Paralysing Fear: Player Agency Parameters in Horror Games

Boonen Casper S. Mieritz Daniel
2018 DiGRA Nordic '18: Proceedings of 2018 International DiGRA Nordic Conference

The horror video game genre is dedicated to building suspense and scaring its players. One of the ways in which it achieves this goal is through the manipulation of the player’s agency. With this paper, we seek to examine and identify elements used to manipulate the agency of the player in horror video games, to see how they can be used to evoke horror and dread within the player. To this purpose, a qualitative humanistic approach has been applied, through the analysis of six horror games. Our results indicate several common themes, found in the elements used to manipulate player agency. Based on these themes, we have developed an Agency Parameter Model, illustrating a hierarchical relationship between different categories used to manipulate agency. At the core of the model are three overarching categories: Player Character Parameters, System Parameters, and Player Parameters.


Applying the Two-Factor-Theory to the PLAY Heuristics

Strååt Björn Warpefelt Henrik
2015 DiGRA '15 - Proceedings of the 2015 DiGRA International Conference

It is a common practice to use heuristic evaluations to assess usability and user experience of digital systems. Video games are no exception. Several video game researchers have presented different lists of best practice, design patterns, principles and heuristics over the last decade. The authors of this paper wanted to see if there is an aspect of priority that can be applied to an existing set of video game heuristics and if it is possible to classify the heuristics according to type. This study uses a survey where the participants were asked to classify Desurvire and Wiberg’s (2009) PLAY heuristics according to Herzberg’s theory into either Hygiene Factors or Motivators. The participants were instructed to view Hygiene Factors as essential to ensure functionality for an enjoyable play experience, while Motivators are mostly aimed at polishing the experience. The method used in this study is inspired by a previous work, where web design heuristics were classified in a similar manner. Results show that the method is applicable, and that it yields interesting results. Preliminary results indicate that mainly heuristics that consider usability are perceived as Hygiene Factors while the heuristics classified as Motivators consider other topics, such as storyline and immersion. Interestingly, the PLAY heuristics are evenly split between these two categories.


Human, all too non-Human: Coop AI and the Conversation of Action

Simon Bart
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper considers the cultural sociological questions that might begin to be asked when players understand themselves to be cooperating rather than competing with the computer when they play digital games. Coop play with game AI in games like Call of Duty provides the basis for understanding human relationships with computers and machines in a way that may differ from the cultural historical antagonism embodied in a game like computer chess. This investigation also opens the doors for the analysis of emergent play in human-computer interaction.


Agency Reconsidered

Wardrip-Fruin Noah Mateas Michael Dow Steven Sali Serdar
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

The concept of “agency” in games and other playable media (also referred to as “intention”) has been discussed as a player experience and a structural property of works. We shift focus, considering agency, instead, as a phenomenon involving both player and game, one that occurs when the actions players desire are among those they can take (and vice versa) as supported by an underlying computational model. This shifts attention away from questions such as whether agency is “free will” (it is not) and toward questions such as how works evoke the desires agency satisfies, employ computational models in the service of player action and ongoing dramatic probability, use interfaces and mediation to encourage appropriate audience expectation, shift from initial audience expectation to an understanding of the computational model, and can be shaped with recognition of the inherently improvisational nature of agency. We focus particularly on agency in relation to the fictional worlds of games and other playable media.