Designing Fun: A Method to Identify Experiential Elements in Analog Abstract Games

Dhamelia Malay Dalvi Girish
2022 DiGRA ’22 – Proceedings of the 2022 DiGRA International Conference: Bringing Worlds Together

To play a game, players interact with the game system by following rules. Upon interaction, different properties emerge. The experience of fun is one of the fundamental emergent properties that players seek from a game. There are many conceptual viewpoints of fun; yet, little research on how a rule system’s qualities help create fun. We present a qualitative empirical method that connects the players’ fun experience in context to the rule system. We describe the protocol for the method and its rationales. Two case studies employing our method on abstract analog (non-digital) games are presented. Our method helps researchers identify experiential elements of games and design-attributes to modulate them. The design-attributes also aid in interpreting the conditions generated by the rule system for fun to emerge. Lastly, we discuss the method’s strengths in terms of findings and potential applications in research and practice.


I Predict a Riot: Making and Breaking Rules and Norms in League of Legends

Donaldson Scott
2017 DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference

This paper examines the relationships between player community norms and developer-created rules of play in the competitive team game, League of Legends (Riot Games, 2009). Since the game’s release, players have established their own sets of strategic norms – much like player positioning systems in sport – which are used as a de facto baseline for play at all levels of competition. Since these norms are distinct from the game developer’s rules concerning online behaviour, however, it is unclear as to whether individual players have the ‘right’ to enact experimental game strategies that fall outside of the pre-existing framework. In November of 2016, however, it was revealed in one of the game’s online community hubs that a player had been threatened with a permanent account ban after repeatedly engaging in one such experimental strategy. A study of the following discussion as it played out within the player community shows that players are aware of larger issues concerning meaning-making in competitive League of Legends, and that they identify the game developer as a key figure in this ongoing process.


Selling out the magic circle: free-to-play games and developer ethics

Jordan Philipp Buente Wayne Silva Paula Alexandra Rosenbaum Howard
2016 DiGRA/FDG '16 - Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG

We describe a narrative case study of a free-to-play, massive multiplayer online role playing game through virtual ethnography inside the game as player and passive, participatory observation of the official game forum to understand the actions of both, the developer and the player community in relation to subliminal development changes of the game rules. We then show that players are able to claim agency and change the course of the game design while trying to allocate themselves as both, consumers within a heavily commercialized game model and invaluable members of the gaming community itself. We draw from studies on player agency, game co-creation as well as research on free-toplay game design to demonstrate how a developer constantly undermines player agency through an ongoing re-definition of the game rules disrupting the magic circle which is the main contribution of this study. Our discussion outlines the constant struggle of players to level the playing field within this damaged magic circle which is punctured by casino-like game reward mechanisms, in-transparent development notes, deceptive developer implementations and game modifications in the context of the freemium business model of game design.


Rules in Computer Games Compared to Rules in Traditional Games

DeLeon Chris
2014 DiGRA '13 - Proceedings of the 2013 DiGRA International Conference: DeFragging Game Studies

Michael Liebe argues that Salen and Zimmerman's interpretation of Huizinga's magic circle does not apply to computer games. Liebe's insight reveals not only a different relation for computer games to the magic circle, but also hints at a difference in the nature of rules in computer games. Jesper Juul's comparison of non-digital sports to simulations of those sports highlights a missing aspect in understanding how rules in computer games are of a different nature than those of non-computer games: rules as flexibly defining real-time spatial interactions. Rules in computer games are more like laws of physics, rules in non-computer games are more like laws of society. Besides meta rules such as tournament arrangements, only a handful of "rules" - as the word is applied to non-computer games - exist for nearly all computer games. Moreover, such rules are largely the same: use standard input, and don't alter the game.


The gaming landscape: a taxonomy for classifying games and simulations

Klabbers Jan H.G.
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

Following Huizinga’s view, the play element of culture is emphasized. While playing, by means of rules, the participants in a game interact with one another to impact on the reference system. Thousands of simulation games are available that depict many different areas and purposes of use. The variety of the gaming landscape is illustrated by linking the various foci and areas of interest in one scheme. To see the wood for the trees, the generic model of games is presented, based on the three interconnected building blocks: actors, rules, and resources. I will point out that even if games have similar forms, their purpose, subject matter, content, context of use, and intended audience(s), may be very different. A framework for constructing, deconstructing and classifying games emerges, based on the combination of the three building blocks with elements of a semiotic theory of gaming: syntax, semantics and pragmatics.


Making and breaking games: a typology of rules

Järvinen Aki
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

The paper introduces a particular approach to the study of rules. Different aspects of rules are studied: what are their functions, what do rules govern, what is a ruleset, and what are the elements in a game that rules govern. Five elements are discussed: components (pieces/ player characters/etc.), procedures associated with components (moving them or manipulating them in other ways), environments that define the physical boundaries of a game, theme that gives the game a subject matter, and interface which is used to access the game. The author introduces five types of rules, each type relating to a game element. The typology provides a better understanding of rules as a fundamental structure of games, and it can also be applied as a tool for analysing individual games’ structure and ruleset.


Play’s the Thing: A Framework to Study Videogames as Performance

Fernández-Vara Clara
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Performance studies deals with human action in context, as well as the process of making meaning between the performers and the audience. This paper presents a framework to study videogames as a performative medium, applying terms from performance studies to videogames both as software and as games. This performance framework for videogames allows us to understand how videogames relate to other performance activities, as well as understand how they are a structured experience that can be designed. Theatrical performance is the basis of the framework, because it is the activity that has the most in common with games. Rather than explaining games in terms of ‘interactive drama,’ the parallels with theatre help us understand the role of players both as performers and as audience, as well as how the game design shapes the experience. The theatrical model also accounts for how videogames can have a spectatorship, and how the audience may have an effect on gameplay.


Negotiating Play: The Process of Rule Construction inProfessional Computer Gaming

Taylor T.L.
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

When discussing how computer games work one oftenencounters the argument that a primary functioncomputation plays in the space is “handling” rules. In thismodel of computer game play the device, be it personalcomputer or console, acts as central (and often final) arbiterof rules, upholding the contract of the game with its playersand seamlessly and equitably enforcing a fixed set of rules.While other “layers” of rules are sometimes introduced tonuance this model, there often remains a core sense that thecomputer is centrally relied upon for the lion’s share ofrule-governance.Yet there are a number of studies that signal this story ofthe division of play labor is not so clearly demarcated. InMikael Jakobsson’s fascinating article on a console gameclub and their competitions for the game Super SmashBrothers he shows how the gamers enact a dynamic set ofrules to facilitate play that go well beyond the formalizedones set by the game itself [3]. This often includes on thespot “tweaks” to facilitate play at a particular event. T.L.Taylor’s work on MMOGs also highlights the complexnegotiation around what counts as appropriate and fair playfor online players and how they often interact with softwareto construct strong norms & rules governing their activitieswell beyond the fixed system the game software provides[7,8]. We might additionally look at the interesting work ofauthors exploring practices around cheating, hacking, androle-play to find waypoints in understanding rulenegotiation in computer game spaces [1,2,4,5,6].This piece picks up on the theme of rules negotiation bylooking at how these processes are handled in theprofessional computer gaming scene. One might think thatthe kinds of negotiations described by the scholars notedabove are a unique subset of play and that the very seriousdomain of pro-play (where large sums of money andprestige are often at stake) would surely represent a spherein which the rules of play bear a more one-to-onecorrespondence with system rules & constraints and arecertainly well-defined in advance of competition. I willargue, however, that rules negotiation is a consistent featureof multiplayer computer gaming.


And Justice for All – the 10 commandments of Online Games, and then some…

Johansson Magnus Verhagen Harko
2010 DiGRA Nordic '10: Proceedings of the 2010 International DiGRA Nordic Conference: Experiencing Games: Games, Play, and Players

As part of our research project on the social aspects of gaming and more in particular the structuring of behavior in online multiplayer games using norms and rules, we present an overview of the type of rules used by clans and guilds in both MMOGs and FPS games. Not surprisingly, both genre and player motivation play a role in the selection and creation of rules. We also note that one of the types of behavior addressed in many rules, griefing, needs a more sophisticated analysis than used in previous game research. We conclude by presenting a set of “game commandments” that summarize the rule sets analyzed.


Just a Cyberplace The rules in videogames: between Ontology and Epistemology

Mosca Ivan
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

In this essay you will find a theory about the relation of videogames and rules. The analysis illustrates the Social Ontology Project founded by John Searle and introduces some new concepts, such as Gameframe, Cyberplace and Interactive Figmentum. After some theoretical arguments you will find a double grill to categorize player types regarding to rules.