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?

intro2gamedesign.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/6th-week’s-podcasts-and-assignment – The sixth lecture.

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