Effects of Game Design Features on Player-Avatar Relationships and Motivation for Buying Decorative Virtual Items

Wang Hao Ruan Yu-Chun Hsu Sheng-Yi Sun Chun-Tsai
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Many online game players are developing strong psychological attachments with the avatars they use for gameplay. Player-avatar relationships can affect gaming experiences in terms of enjoyment, immersion, and virtual character identity, among other factors. For this study we tested various propositions regarding the effects of game design features on player-avatar relationships, and the effects of those relationships on decorative virtual item consumption motivation. Participants recruited from 15 online game forums were asked to complete two questionnaires on these topics. Our results indicate significant correlations between player-avatar relationships and both game design features (e.g., death penalties and pet systems) and decorative item consumption motivation. Our results offer insights into how game designers can, to some extent, manage player-avatar relationships by fine-tuning design features, perhaps facilitating marketing objectives in the process.


Port or conversion? An ontological framework for classifying game versions

Grabarczyk Paweł Aarseth Espen
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

The notion of a “game port” appears in both: the popular discourse surrounding video games as well as the academic discourse. As pointed out in the literature, it is notoriously vague and often overlaps with other similar concepts, such as “conversion”. We show that the main reason for the murkiness of the notion of a “game port” is its close connection to the marketing narrative which changed during history. We argue, that despite the problematic nature of the concept of a “game port” it is indispensable in context such as game analysis and game preservation. For this reason, we propose a formal classification of different game versions suitable for future use in these selected contexts.


Describing the Game Studies Canon: A Game Citation Analysis

Frome Jonathan Martin Paul
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

This article analyzes how game studies scholars cite videogames in their research. A content analysis of over 580 articles from the field’s two main journals is used to identify the currently-invisible canon of most-frequently cited games in game scholarship. We show that the canon is far more varied than previously suggested and demonstrate ways that it has changed over time. The article's research implications include explicating different functions of game citation as well as providing an empirical basis for identifying under-researched games. Our findings also identify the games with which familiarity is most important to understand existing research. Finally, we propose ways the game studies canon can help address pedagogical, technological, and legal obstacles to the development of game studies as a discipline.


Sites of Play: Locating Gameplace in Red Dead Redemption 2

Westerside Andrew Holopainen Jussi
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

In Video Game Spaces (2009), Michael Nitsche proposes three indicators of ‘placeness’ in video games: identity, self-motivated and self-organised action, and traces of memory (191-201). We read this notion of placeness as closely aligned to, or overlapping with, the understandings of place and site articulated in theatre and performance research as site-specific performance. Here, we articulate the ideas (and analyse the experiences) of placeness and sitedness in Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2) through an analytical conversation between performance studies and games design research with a human-computer interaction bias. Through a close-reading of gameplay experiences (Bizzocchi and Tanenbaum, 2011), we individually experienced over 30 hours of RDR2 gameplay while taking notes, recording, and capturing screenshots. During our individual analyses, we met periodically to compare notes, discuss notable game moments and share analytical insights. At this intersection of game research and performance research, we ask to what extent the theoretical articulations of aesthetic/affective experience in physical, corporeal and material spaces can develop – and further nuance – our understanding of how place is experienced (and thus designed) in contemporary videogames. In doing so, we propose the term gameplace as a means of articulating what this article will define as the affective relationship between place, experience and play.


Adapting the Empty Orchestra: the Performance of Play in Karaoke

Bryan Jeffrey S Tanenbaum Theresa
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Karaoke is a unique social game of performance play that is easily adapted into existing play forms and play communities. In this paper, we examine how karaoke is encountered by players, how the game is structured, and how karaoke is adapted by play communities by evaluating the ludic elements of karaoke and the playful methods players use to engage with the game, ending with critical examples of playful adaptations. The success of the informal play experience of karaoke can inform the design of more intentional social play. We argue that karaoke is so adaptable because of its ubiquitousness, its relative lack of explicit rules, the flexibility of is implicit rules, the personal nature of its goals, and the variability of its primary mode of play. This creates a loose structure that can take in other structures, be incorporated by them, or even completely consumed by them, yet remain recognizable.


In Situ: Researching corporate diversity initiatives with game developers

Westecott Emma Stein Suzanne Hsu Cheryl Rahman Kashfia
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

This paper explicates the design and development of a feminist action research pilot that studied and supported the launch of a diversity initiative within a major game development studio. Drawing on methods from design research including rapid ethnography and model making, we describe the stages our pilot study followed, including key models and high-level findings, as well as outline the ways in which we collaborated with our research partner in this initial stage. Use of these methods helped us build an integrated model that can be used as a strategic tool to direct the focus of ongoing work by our partner and other developers. By sharing our process, we hope to illustrate one way that researchers might engage design research methods in service of equity work of this nature in partnership with the game industry.


The Path That Lies Ahead: Intimacy Through Overwhelmedness in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Doyle-Myerscough Kaelan
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

In this essay I read The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to consider the potential of video game worlds to create intimate affects. I trace out a framework of intimacy not as a relationship between individuals but as an affect defined by sensations including vulnerability, the loss of control, and precarity. Then, I read the formal, aesthetic, proprioceptive and structural elements of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for intimate affects. I understand the intimacy of Breath of the Wild as not anchored to any individual but distributed through the game world. Within this framework I argue that Breath of the Wild creates intimacy through being overwhelmed and contending with overwhelmedness. Finally, I consider the context of contemporary precarity to understand the stakes of inhabiting intimate game worlds.


Categorizing Morality Systems Through the Lens of Fallout

Casas-Roma Joan Arnedo-Moreno Joan
2019 DiGRA '19 - Proceedings of the 2019 DiGRA International Conference: Game, Play and the Emerging Ludo-Mix

Morality systems in computer role-playing games (CRPGs) are a characteristic feature of the genre. Although there is plenty of literature studying how players relate to moral choices, only a few studies analyze or compare how specific games represent the player’s moral persona. This paper studies how morality systems have been modeled in the Fallout series to keep track of the player’s moral profile, categorizing the different techniques used in those systems. A special emphasis is put on how in-game actions affect the PC’s moral alignment, as well as how non-player characters (NPCs) react to that beyond the game’s scripted narrative. The goal is to provide guidelines that would lead to the development of more comprehensive and detailed morality systems, and where the player could immerse in a virtual world where the NPCs would act more as individual agents, with less reliance on explicitly scripted scenarios.