In the greater pyramid scheme of things

Remember back in February when I started playing a tapping guitar? No? Well, anyway, I am learning how to play a tapping guitar (check out the February post for a neat YouTube clip). In my case it was built by Kevin Siebold of Krappy guitars.

However, playing tapping guitar is way harder than playing the violin. The violin I taught myself in a few evenings staying in a hotel room on a business trip. Same amount of time spent on the tapper and I can’t even play Twinkle twinkle little star. So I started out trying to learn from a book instead, Easy Touchstyle Basics. While I sort of but that project on the shelf for a while since I got myself a Playstation with KillZone 2 I still find the book pretty neat. And it can be had for free as PDF if you sign up to the Megatar newsletter.

This morning I got one such newsletter, introducing a new exciting way to get also the second book for free. It all revolves around a pyramid scheme, I refer six people and get a book, they in turn refer six each people and they their books, who in turn refer 36 people and get their books, who in turn refer 216 people and get their books, who in turn refer 1286 people and get their books, who in turn… well, you get it.

Still, free is free, and the link also shows how to get the first book (no pyramid scheme necessary). – How to get the second method book for tapping, for free. – Krappy guitars tapping guitars.

I2GD:7 – Expanded game experiences

Right. Four weeks have passed since my last blog on the course site. I will write one for this lecture as well. If you for some reason read this before actually watching the video cast I suggest that you fast forward 38 minutes into the show, and watch it to the end, before watching it from the start. Doing so will make everything make more sense.

0:00 – Introduction

0:40 – Expanded game experiences
Game experience in a wider sense, the context of the game experience, hetrogenic usergroups.

The model in the podcast is based on studies of causal games (but also relevant for hard core game experiences).

0:1:43 – Game experience
What in the game design makes us comfortable in the game, makes us enjoy the game, what makes the game fun, what makes the game good.

How can we design the experience that the game provides.

2:24 – Immersion, Flow, Usability and Playability

3:08 – Context
The context of the experience, highly subjective, time and place of playing.

4:11 – Transformation of digital play
Games are used for many different purposes. Different games are played in different situations (at work, with friends, mobile while waiting, workout in dance games).

5:45 – Causal games phenomenon
Rising phenomenon of simple games.
Accessability is part of the genre, play in the browser. Factors before/outside actual play affects the experience.

7:00 – Games as services
Distribution is not part of the actual game (XBLilve Store, PS Store), but part of the experience. Achievements, gamer tags, avatars, may or may not be part of actual game play.

8:14 – Example: Mobile games experiences
You must download the game to your phone, there are several different services for such games. It may be much work and/or difficult to get mobile games, such games are usually of a causal nature. (Here I expected the question “If mobile games are so hard to get, are they still causal?, that question never came. and the segment reached no real conclusion.)

9:55 – Is gameplay all we need to design?
… no, we should design the whole experience. (This sort of relates to my thoughts on Form. gameplay corresponds somewhat to Rules, but the rules are not the entire experience of play.)

10:52 – Designing experiences?
Not only designing one part of the experience.

11:09 – Design process
Is decentralized, different actors do different parts of the game. Usually not in communication with each others. Marketing, designers, service providers, different views on the game.

The game designer is not the only one that has to think about the experience of the game!

12:41 – The player?
The experience of reading reviews, discussing the game with peers, and actually purchasing it reflects on the gameplay experience later. (The influence of a game hype could be related to this. Those that anticipated Fable thought it sucked, but those that came into the game with no preconceptions on how it would be quite enjoyed it.)

13:37 – The holistic experience?
If I am looking for a causal game, do I want to install something to my computer? “Preplay” is part of play experiences.

Buying collectibles, game art, magazines, modding, expand the game experience.

15:17 – Decentralized design decentralized experiences?

Expanded game experience (EGE) model
Used for understanding game experience from this (above) context.

17:11 – Activities
Six different activity steps, when designing the game experience. (Pretty picture at 17:47.)

  • Information retrieval – Forums, reviews, advertising
  • * Do you choose to play? Decide not to play?
  • Enabling activities for the player – Buying hardware/console to play. (Patching windows-machines in order to play.)
  • *
  • Preparation for the game experience – setting up the board, turning on console
  • *
  • Gameplay itself – Depends on the game
  • * Do I stop?
  • After-play – Recap of experience, seeking information, speaking with friends.
  • * Replay or…
  • Abandonment of game product – Temporary removal?

21:49 – Summary of the EGE model

22:15 – Critical decisions
See * in list above.

25:16 – User states
Situations of the player. Changing our activities/preferences during the experience.
(Pretty picture at 26:56.)
The player is in different states between different steps of the EGE model. (But really, the user may be in many different states for each of the steps. The state of the player affects the experience in the different steps. Different players will experience it differently.)

29:44 – User context and resources
(Pretty picture at 30:00.)
Shows resources that the player may (or may not) use in different states.

31:45 – motives & drivers, resources, worldview & beliefs, situations
Affects the above.

32:14 – Affordances & thresholds
What is possible to design? Provide different things to the player. Require them to do things/restrict them from doing things.
(Pretty picture at 33:16, again.)
What is the target of the design?
Experience should make sense, investment – quality.

37:59 – EGE

  • Larger experimental context
  • Changing user states
  • Balance between affordances and thresholds

39:26 – Expanding your horizon for versatile game experiences
The model is work in progress, expands the horizons on game experiences.’s-podcast-and-assignment/ – Lecture 7, the EGE model. – My last blog on the course page, a game review.

I2GD:6 – Understanding players and play experiences

0:00 – Introduction

0:48 – Cultural Study of IT
Cultural studies of IT are multidisciplinary. Involves technology and humans.

To understand the role of players in game studies, one must understand both media and humans.

2:05 – Digital culture
Field of humanities, with literature and cinema studies. How digital tech provides new opportunities for expression, new art forms (like games) and constraints of tech from a critical angle. What are the politics of digital technology?

3:30 – Hypermedia
Invented in the 1960’ies by Theodore (Ted) Nelson, concerns new kinds of text and media. (Like the web, media linked together.) Interactive media.

5:43 – Game studies
Emerging discipline (hundreds of academics in the field). Mostly non-technical (Game research is the more technical part. (Pathfinding and AI.) What kind of experiences do games provide, why do some people like some games, while others do not?

7:55 – Interdisciplinary triangulation
This is the triangulation used by Tampere Uni.

  1. Humanities
  2. Social sciences
  3. Design research

(See pretty picture at 9:48. )

Game design extends that picture with another triangle, this is not shown in the podcast.

13:20 – Theory of meaning for games
Reminder of Core/Shell-theory from lecture 2.

14:17 – Digital game = Digital media + Gameplay

Includes duality. How people feel when participating in the game. Also digital media, like impressive graphics and sound, and force feedback from controllers.

15:29 – Semiosis = sign-based meanings
Analysis of signs in game (texts, textual instructions, symbols, user interface symbols)

Also, how the character has been described in the game (e.g. are females described as feminine or masculine), ideological connotations, does the game try to make you feel in a certain way in regard to the characters. Messages that the game is sending.

Semiosis is the meaning making potential of the game.

17:39 – Ludosis = meanings born out of playful behavior
Not sign focus, something not in the game, but in the action of playing the game. Can only be understood by participating in the game. How does it feel to play the game? Is it engaging?

20:19 – People play differently
Same game – different meanings!

(This I mostly relate to everyone that claim to play (P’n’P) DoD, but everyone plays it differently. Just because the game has the same name does not mean it is the same game.)

In an MMORPG, some want to explore, some want to RP, some want to kill monsters. The game is a tool that a player uses for his own purposes.

A game must be studied with several different players, since players approach in different ways.

22:40 – Intense involvements in game and play produces immersion
(Swedish ‘Leva sig in i spelet.’)

Lost in the game or focused on it. Not only the RPG immersion, but in a wider sense.

23:57 – Games are complex
Three kinds of gameplay immersion exist (based on his own studies). SCI-model.

  • Sensory – Something pleasurable in the game. Impressive graphics? Good sounds or soundtracks.
  • Challenge-based – The interaction of the game. (Important for core of the game. Even nethack is popular!) A nice puzzle. Skill development is required. A game of chess can be immersive to players that focus on it.
  • Imaginative – Similar to immersion in a good novel or movie. Focusing on characters. (This sounds more like immersion in story rather than immersion in character from RPG theory.)

Good games provide all three. (Pretty picture at 29:09 with explanation, the aural map.)

33:11 – WIth the right methods it is possible to evaluate player experiences
Test your game early. How do players evaluate games?

(Pretty picture at 34:06. Results of SCI evaluation of games, based on survey.)

39:05 – Often players are just used as testers
… use them to provide ideas for the game too. Listen to the beta testers.

Developers often develop games that they like themselves, missing out on a more general appeal. Test, adapt and your game will be liked by more.

40:50 – Study of players

41:14 – Not much reliable information available about digital play
More is published now though.

41:35 – Industry figures show how game sales have increased
… not the same as how much people have played the game. People still play old Nintendo games even if they are not for sale. Causal games are not tracked in sales.

(Pretty picture at 42:39 showing game sales increase in the last decade.)

43:51 – It appears that people play in different styles or have different mentalities
(Mentalities – Mental attitude while playing.)

44:23 – Player motivations
Causal fun, intense fun, killing time, entertainment, achievements, immersion… The reasons people play. People have different reasons.

47:03 – People playing same games together form game cultures
Players that talk about play experiences (fanfic, forums, chats) consider this for your game. If your game gets a bad rep in a culture/community it will not get played and get bad reviews.

(Pretty picture at 48:48 game cultures in Finland.)

52:48 – Most people play in causal styles
Not everyone is a ‘gamer’.

E.g. playing with their kids, playing to relax, playing to kill some time.

53:44 – Conclusions

Games and players are part of an increasing participatory culture. Games are not in isolation. Some TV-shows are game-like.

You must understand the preferences of different kinds of people (age, gender, ethnicity)

55:16 – To consider

Is digital play becoming more pervasive (common to play games)? Are games coming into the main stream.

Can we see the rise of a ludic (playful/gamer) society? What happens when more people become familiar with digital media? What would such a society look like? What games would be generated? What experiences would they generate?’s-podcasts-and-assignment – The sixth lecture.

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