Pleased to announce that I’m part of the team behind a new conference provisionally entitled The Player Experience: The Emotions and Worlds of Digital Games, due to launch in the Summer of 2016. An inter-disciplinary event, we are intending to sit at the intersection between Game Studies and Cyberpsychology, but will accept submissions from philosophy, narratology, neurobiology, or any other field with connections to the subject. We also welcome delegates from the games industry who’d like to give a presentation, or who’d just like to attend.
The theme for the first conference in the series is Avatars: Presence and Immersion, looking at the representation of identity in and around the fictional worlds of games, and how these lead to presence (high fidelity of experience) and immersion (deep engagement) within those imagined worlds.
The conference will be hosted at the University of Bolton in Greater Manchester UK, and we expect the Call for Participation to begin in February 2015 and close around 30 May 2015. The conference organisers are myself, Dr. Angela Tinwell, and Dr. Julie Prescott. At the moment, we are asking for Expressions of Interest consisting of an email stating that you would like to take part and your academic field and institution, or your company.
Please email px [at] ihobo [dot] com - or click this Email Robot – to let us know this event interests you. Hope to hear from you soon!
Over on ihobo today, a consideration of whether histories of constraints would be the best way to consider the temporal element in game designs. Here’s an extract:
Attempts to provide a taxonomy of game genres founder on the lack of consistent criteria, and usually have to be arbitrarily assigned. Connecting ‘shooters’ into a lineage suggests scrolling shooters were direct influences on first person shooters, for instance. But there's no evidence suggesting Zaxxon has any connection with the design of DOOM, or that Space Invaders inspired Zaxxon. As a historical tool, genre categories can provide some useful connections – DOOM certainly did influence GoldenEye 007, for example – but genre cannot be used as a unifying framework for game history because the genre lineages are narrowly valid and do not constitute a complete description of game history. An alternative approach can begin by considering the historical constraints that acted on any given title, grouping games by common constraints into related clusters.
Player satisfaction modeling depends in part upon quantitative or qualitative typologies of playing preferences, although such approaches require scrutiny. Examination of psychometric typologies reveal that type theories have—except in rare cases—proven inadequate and have made way for alternative trait theories. This suggests any future player typology that will be sufficiently robust will need foundations in the form of a trait theory of playing preferences. This paper tracks the development of a sequence of player typologies developing from psychometric type theory roots towards an independently validated trait theory of play, albeit one yet to be fully developed. Statistical analysis of the results of one survey in this lineage is presented, along with a discussion of theoretical and practical ways in which the surveys and their implied typological instruments have evolved.
Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation and the boardgames panel! It was a great shame to only be able to attend one day of the conference.
Skip over to ihobo for my thoughts on the conference I just finished:
Where does the games as art debate go now? How much do stereotypes of the gamer dominate and distort perspectives of games in culture? Can counterplay and co-creation in games change the relationship between the makers and players of games? Issues such as these were the focus of lively debate in-and-out of the conference halls at Videogame Cultures 3 in Oxford University’s Mansfield College.
Right, I really needed that break from blogging… Frankly, I was feeling incredibly weighed down by the weight of academic papers that I had to write, and needed to focus on them. Here’s a list of all the papers, book chapters and presentations I’ve written or worked upon in the last month and a half:
“Player Typology in Theory and Practice” (with Rebecca Lowenhaupt and Lennart Nacke)
“BrainHex: Preliminary Results from a Neurobiological Gamer Typology Survey” (with Lennart Nacke and Regan Mandryk)
“Neurobiological Foundations for Player Satisfaction Modeling”(with Lennart Nacke) in Game Telemetry and Metrics (eds. Mady Seif El-Nasr and Anders Drachen)
“Chaotic Good in the Balance” in Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy (eds. Jon Cogburn and Mark Silcox)
“Dungeons & Dragons & Dice &… Prop Theory for Role-Play” in Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy (eds. Jon Cogburn and Mark Silcox)
“Prop Theory for Game Aesthetics”
“Orthodox Science Fiction and Fictional Worlds”
“Fictional Worlds in Films and Games”
That’s a lot of papers for someone who doesn’t work as an academic! Anyway, I now have this workload under better control, so with luck I should be able to get back into the blogging.
Blogging resumes again next week - hope to see you in the comments!
It is one of the strangest aspects of play that whatever can be endured will ultimately serve to enhance the enjoyment of the player who perseveres. Tolerating repetition adds satisfaction to the completing task. Tolerating difficulty in challenges turns mere success into glowing victory. Tolerating frustratingly obscure puzzles leads to smug triumph when they are eventually cracked.
Of course, each of these ordeals to be endured will also exclude certain players from reaching their eventual rewards. Not everyone is willing to endure tedium, difficulty or obscurity. But it is striking to note that the same things which cause certain players to give up a game are the very things which make it worth playing for others. This is more than just ‘different strokes for different folks’ – it seems as if whatever a player will endure ultimately ends up enhancing the reward they experience.
Cross-posted from ihobo; comments accepted on either blog.
What words do we use to discuss what we like and dislike about games? The words people use in specific contexts reveals something about their relationship with that aspect of life, and this is true of games as much as anything else.
What words would you use to describe what you like or dislike in the context of:
Game pacing, that is, the rate at which content is added to a game e.g. “well-paced”, “slow” or a “grind”.
Virtual worlds, that is, the fictional worlds of games e.g. “beautiful”, “dark”, “dull” or “immersive”.
Mechanics, that is, the rules and systems of games e.g. “unbalanced”, “perfectly balanced” or “quirky”
Compulsiveness, that is, the extent to which a game captures and holds attention in the short or long term e.g. “addictive”, “compelling” or “replayable”.
Any other aspect of games I’ve not mentioned
Feel free to simply describe games you are currently playing or your favourite games in whatever words you choose – I’m interested in the words we already use to describe our play experiences, any anything in this respect could be useful.
No new post on ihobo this week as I am still hoping to foster further discussion on the notion of gamer virtues. Here are some of the questions thus far:
Can all the many vices I have singled out be understood solely as "fair play", or is there a sense in which terms like "camping" serve to restrict the options for play in ways that favour one player over another?
Is "imba" a term which can be best understood as having come to mean "efficient player", and if so is the sole virtue that players of World of Warcraft recognise mere efficiency?
Do any other online communities recognise virtues for their players? Do players ever say anything nice about one another, or do they just bitch about how their fellow players annoy them?