DiGRA 2005: Changing Views: Worlds in Play, 2005 International Conference

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Game, Motivation, and Effective Learning: An Integrated Model for Educational Game Design

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Date created: 
2005-06-02
Abstract: 

Game environments have great potential to support immersive learning experiences. Learning can be defined as "the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill." To engage in this act of gaining knowledge or skill, learners must be motivated. According to Chan & Ahern (1999), "When people are intrinsically motivated to learn, they not only learn more, they also have a more positive experience." Games meet both these tests for effective learning environments: they are active experiences, and they have the capacity to provide intrinsic motivation. MOTIVATION & FLOW To motivate is to "provide with an incentive". In traditional instructional design practice, motivation is often considered as a preliminary step in the instructional process (Chan & Ahern, 1999). Intrinsic motivation, however, focuses on the development of motivation throughout the entire instructional process. To understand motivation in instruction, the authors of this paper look at the ARCS Model of Motivational Design developed by John M. Keller. The ARCS Model identifies four components for motivating instruction: attention strategies, relevance strategies, confidence strategies, and satisfaction strategies (Keller, 1983). A well-designed game can include all of these strategies. A well-designed educational game will meld them with the desired learning outcomes. Chan and Ahern (1999) suggest Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow Theory as a tool for understanding and implementing motivation. The authors of this paper see Flow Theory as a critical factor in the development of effective educational game environments. Flow Theory describes a state where the subject experiences a perfect balance between challenge and ability. According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990), flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. Consistent with the ARCS model, applications of this theory focus on providing the learner with appropriate challenge, setting concrete goals, structuring control, and providing clear feedback (Chan & Ahern 1999). To learn, students need to be motivated, and an appropriate level of challenge combined with a clear and attainable goal is highly motivating. Since flow experiences share these key aspects of motivational design, they can be described as intrinsically motivating. Instructional designers can utilize game environments that support flow and enable learning. Learning environments have been largely limited to the classroom model: the teacher stands in front of the class and transmits knowledge to a listening group of students. To support a flow state, a learning environment must closely match each student’s skill level, and provide tasks with clear goals and immediate individual feedback. Houser and De Loach review Donald Norman's work: Things that make us Smart. Norman identifies seven basic requirements of a learning environment. They note Norman's call for interaction, feedback, goals, motivation, challenge, engagement and concentration and conclude that games demonstrate effective learning environments (Houser & Deloach, 1998). GAME, PLAY, AND LEARNING A game is "a system in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome." (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004). The goal of successful game design is the creation of meaningful play (ibid). Johann Huizinga (1955) defines play as "a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious’, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly". The authors of this paper argue for educational game environments that combine play, motivation, flow, and learning. Lepper and Malone (1987) illustrate four key attributes that educational games can employ: challenge, sensory and cognitive curiosity, a sense of control, and the use of fantasy to reinforce and stimulate. The diagram below illustrates the potential for well-designed educational games: Games > Play > Flow > Motivation > Learning Games foster play and challenge, which produces a state of flow, which increases motivation, which supports the learning process. The juncture of learning outcomes with well-designed game mechanics can result in learning experiences which are intrinsically motivating. The challenge for educational designers is to build environments where the dynamics of learning are fully integrated with the dynamics of game-play. Lepper and Malone describe a term called ‘Fantasy’. Fantasy is what players first experience when they play a game. They see the graphics, hear the sounds, and interact with the world. Many educational games implement a form of educational ‘sugar coating’ known as exogenous fantasies - the game is merely used to package and improve the educational setting (Rieber, 1996). In contrast, games that employ endogenous fantasies weave the content into the game. One cannot tell where the game stops and the content begins (ibid). These games integrate the learning dynamics within the 'magic circle' [Salen and Zimmerman (2004), Huzuinga (1955)] that constitutes an immersive game world. If learning is situated outside of the magic circle, the game’s powerful ability to draw the learner into a state of flow is broken, and the learning becomes an incidental intrusion. In a fully integrated educational game, ‘stealth learning’ can occur naturally within the context of the game world (Prensky, 2001 as cited in De Castell & Jenson, 2003). The educational possibilities that videogames provide are similar to those known in ‘active learning’. Active learning is student participation in the learning and teaching process, where students themselves engage with and, to an extent, create their own learning experience (Mitchell, 2002). One of the difficulties with flow experiences is the lack of reflection that is able to take place while one is in a flow state. The authors cite the design of a 3D education hockey game that teaches about concussion. In the game, reflection is incorporated into the immersive 'magic circle' of the game play. Players that engage in concussive activities are forced to sit for a while and consider the seriousness and the implications of concussion effects, just a player would be forced to sit in a live hockey game. The act of reflection is incorporated into both the core mechanics of the game, and the fantasy experience of the game world. This is an example of an integrated design approach, which reconciles flow, learning, and endogenous motivation within an immersive game experience. REFERENCES Chamberlin, J. (1998). Reaching ‘flow’ to optimize work and play. American Psychological Association. Vol. 29. No. 7. Accessed: April 22, 2004. Available online: http://www.apa.org/monitor/jul98/joy.html. Chan, T. S., & Ahern, T. C. (1999). Targeting motivation – adapting flow theory to instructional design. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 21 (2), 152-163. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper & Row. De Castell, S., & Jenson, J. (2003). Serious Play. Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol. 35, No. 6, 649-665. Hoonhout, J., Diederiks, E. & Stienstra, M. (2003). Designing fun, and test it too. Usability Professionals’ Association, Marriott City Center Minneapolis, Minnesota. Accessed: April 22, 2004. Available online: http://www.upassoc.org/conferences_and_events/upa_conference/2004/progra... Houser, R., & Deloach, S. (1998). Learning from games: Seven principles of effective design. Technical Communication, August, 319-329. Huizinga, Johann. (1955). Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Boston: Beacon Press. Keller, J. M. (1983). Motivational design of instruction. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.). Instructional design theories and models: An overview of their current status. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development. Englewood Cliffs. Lepper, M. R., & Malone, T. W. (1987). Intrinsic motivation and instructional effectiveness in computer-based education. In R. E. Snow & M. J. Farr (Eds.), Aptitude, learning, and instruction: Vol. 3. Cognitive and affective process analysis. (pp. 255-286). Hillsdale NJ: Erlbaum. Mitchell, L. (2002). Active Learning and Reflection. LTSN: History, Classics & Archaeology. Accessed: April 22, 2004. Available online: http://hca.ltsn.ac.uk/resources/Briefing_Papers/Active_Learning_Reflecti... Murray, J. (1997). Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: The Free Press. Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Game-Based Learning. New York: McGraw-Hill. Rieber, L. P. (1996). Seriously considering play: Designing interactive learning environments based on the blending of microworlds, simulations, and games. Educational Technology Research and Development; 44(2), 43-58. Salen, K. & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Small, R. V. (1997). Motivation in Instructional Design. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology Syracuse NY.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Law, order and conflicts of interest in massively multiplayer online games

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-04-15
Abstract: 

In huge online games such as EverQuest or Star Wars Galaxies where a great number of players can be connected at the same time, social interaction is complex and conflicts become part of everyday life. There is a set of rules and norms in the game for what is allowed and what is prohibited and these are partly set up by the game publisher and partly evolve over time among the players themselves. Conflicts are surprisingly often based on disputes and quarrels revolving around a limited number of rules and norms that have been established over time by the players themselves in the game. This paper describes and exemplifies a number of often-contested behaviors around which most in-game conflicts revolve. Examples are primarily taken from two studies of Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot but the paper also draws on results from five other studies of five different massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). After describing different types of conflicts in MMOGs, the paper goes on to analyze these incidents in terms of social dilemmas. A social dilemma can concisely be describes as a "tension between individual and collective rationality" (Kollock and Smith 1996). The most well-know example of such a dilemma stripped down to its bare bones is the prisoner’s dilemma (Axelrod 1984, Poundstone 1992). A character in a MMOG can however belong to several groups that operate on different levels and there can be conflicts not just between the individual and the collective rationality but also between different levels of collective rationality. These levels are generically referred to in terms of micro, meso and macro (see Skågeby and Pargman 2005 for an example of analyzing conflicts of interest in file-sharing networks in terms of micro, meso and macro relationships). In MMOGs, these three levels correspond to: 1. A small group of close peers and well-known friends bound together by strong ties (Ganovetter 1973) (micro, everyone has a personal relationship with everyone else). 2. A "mid-sized" group of peers and recognized acquaintances (meso, a relatively small network with personal relationships or overlapping relationships between members) – typically a guild in Everquest. 3. A large group of anonymous strangers bound together by weak ties or by no ties (macro, ten thousand characters with accounts on the same sever). The typical relationship at the micro level is one of friendship, the typical relationship at the meso level is one of being acquaintances and the typical relationship at the macro level is one of being strangers. We can also relate these levels to the traditional sociological categories individual, family and close friends, community and society. This paper assumes that tensions, conflicts, misunderstandings, critical incidents and breakdown are fruitful starting points from which to analyze MMOGs (or "virtual societies"). The perspective presented here thus and in good company with Marx, Engels and Weber writes itself into the "conflict tradition" of sociology (Collins, 1994). Having defined a framework with three different levels of collective rationality, the paper proceeds by utilizing said framework to analyze concrete examples of conflicts within a MMOG in terms of a) conflicts between the individual rationality and the (different levels of) collective rationality (such as for example between a character and the guild he/she belongs to) and b) in terms of conflicts between different levels of collective rationality (such as for example between a guild and everyone else on the server). Finally we call attention to a particularly interesting class of conflicts of interest where it is eminently difficult even to determine if specific behaviors are best described as "crime in progress" or as the ultimate examples of "helping your neighbor". We end the paper by further outlining a framework for regarding MMOGs in terms of virtual societies and virtual communities at the same time (e.g. as virtual societies harboring numerous smaller virtual communities). References: Axelrod, R. (1984). The evolution of cooperation. New York: Basic Books. Collins, R (1994). Four sociological traditions. New York: Oxford University Press. Granovetter (1973). The strength of weak ties. Americal Journal of Sociology, Vol.78, No.6, pp.1360-1380. Kollock, P. and Smith, M. (1996). Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in compter communities. In S. Herring (ed.), Computer-mediated communication: Linguistic, social, and cross-cultural perspectives. Amsterdam, Holland: John Benjamins. Poundstone, W (1992). Prisoner’s dilemma: John von Neumann, game theory, and the puzzle of the bomb. New York: Doubleday. Skågeby, J. and Pargman, D. (2005). File-sharing relationships: Conflicts of interest in online gift-giving. Submited to the 2nd international conference on Communities & Technology, .

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Public Diplomacy and Virtual Worlds

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-04-15
Abstract: 

THEME: Internationalism: Worlds at Play Abstract Public Diplomacy and Virtual Worlds An examination of the role of Massively Multiplayer Online Games as an extension of and venue for cultural dialogue, exchange and identity. Background Over the past decade, communications technologies have evolved more rapidly than has our ability to understand them. Since the early 1990s, we have witnessed a communication revolution, fueled by advances in computer technology, mobile and wireless communication, new information communication technologies, the expansion of broadcast through cable television and most significantly, the Internet. One element of this transformation has been the emergence of "many-to-many" networks, communication networks that allow large numbers of users to communicate with each other, without interference from gatekeepers, regulators or editorial influence. The global information culture is fundamentally shifting from a broadcast environment to a topology where broadcast amplifies, and is amplified by, many-to-many networks that are increasingly enabled by information technologies – including web services, publicly accessible databases, social software (weblogs, wikis, buddy lists, online games, file-sharing networks), mobile devices (camera phones, text messaging, global positioning systems), and the tools and technologies that blur the line between online and real-world spaces (web cams, wi-fi, distributed sensors, Internet cafes, MeetUp and other smart-mob phenomena). This transformation of the global information culture has deep and fundamental implications for politics and public diplomacy – dampening (or reversing) the effectiveness of traditional public diplomacy campaigns while opening up new opportunities that are not on the radar of public affairs people doing "business as usual." For example, relationships formed in the virtual gaming world transcend traditional geopolitical and geosocial boundaries; weblogs played a key role in the last Korean election, and text messages sparked rallies during the recent Spanish elections. Radical movements of every political stripe, from left-wing antiglobalists to religious fundamentalists (Christian, Muslim, Hindu), are fully conversant with the dynamics of these technologies, while their governments are not. The bureaucratic obesity of national governments, often precludes awareness of, much less a well informed response to, these emergent phenomena as they happen. These changes present new research challenges, as well as new opportunities for developing projects with long-term, real world social impact. The Study We are attempting to understand the relationships between many-to-many technologies – networked interaction on a mass scale – and public diplomacy. Our goal in this essay will be to describe how massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) or "virtual worlds" can facilitate intercultural dialogue among various groups. What is Public Diplomacy? Traditional definitions of public diplomacy include government-sponsored cultural, educational and informational programs, citizen exchanges and broadcasts used to promote the national interest of a country through understanding, informing, and influencing foreign audiences. We view the field much more broadly. In addition to government sponsored programs, we are equally concerned with aspects of what Joseph Nye has labeled "soft power." The impact of private activities - from popular culture to fashion to sports to news to the Internet - that inevitably, if not purposefully, have an impact on foreign policy and national security as well as on trade, tourism and other national interests. Why Virtual Worlds? Virtual worlds, mainly constructed through massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), function as communication networks in three different ways: • As one-to-many networks (developer to community). Virtual worlds, in other words, are created by a team of developers and include assumptions, values and beliefs in the structure, design, and art of the game. • As many-to-many networks. Virtual worlds are networked communication systems, which allow for interactive chat, internal email, and private and public messaging. Communication can occur among and between any of the online participants in a multitude of configurations. • As one-to-many networks (player to community). Virtual worlds also offer individual players increasing access to a new form of "broadcast." from things as basic as avatar appearance and selection to the ability to create and display objects or messages in public forums or virtual space. Each of these spaces provides us with research questions that can help us to better understand the role of virtual worlds in public diplomacy. Early research has confirmed that within these spaces, there is a unique opportunity to create, foster and sustain intercultural dialogue and that perception of national values, ideals, and character are both reinforced and altered by the real time interactions that occur in these spaces. Understanding Virtual Worlds • Cross Cultural Comparison. Our report will highlight representative examples of games produced in different countries (for example, United States, Korea, Finland, and England) with varied themes and designs in order to explore both the manner in which notions of nation, cultural values, and citizenship are reflected, integrated and assumed within the content of those games as well as the degree to which those representations are positive, negative or neutral. In doing so, we will ask three fundamental questions: 1. How does game content reflect issues of national identity and cultural values both of the producers and of the players? 2. In what ways are players encouraged or discouraged from engaging in intercultural dialogue and what opportunities exist for such dialogue? 3. What means do players have to reflect national identity or specific cultural values (private chat, avatar appearance and naming, object creation and placement) and how frequently do they engage in such opportunities? • Categorization. The answers to these questions (types and uses or networks, types of game design, and cultural content) provide us with extremely rich data to describe, measure, and access each MMOG’s facilitation of intercultural dialogue (from low to high effectiveness) within the three domains of design, content, and network. Those analyses, in turn, serve as the foundation for a typology that will provide categorical profiles of MMOGs according to combinations of the relative strengths and weakness in each of those domains with regards to fostering various forms of cultural dialogue. We will seek to identify nascent and novel manifestation of such dialogue. The typology overall and the categories elaborated within will offer a wide variety of useful tools to public diplomacy practitioners who are seeking to facilitate productive intercultural exchange during this time of intensifying globalization and technological change.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

The Expressions of Colours

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-04-16
Abstract: 

A whole world is presented in front of the eyes of a gamer. This world has shapes and colours. What do colours transmit? Is this considered in digital games? This is the main subject for the present proposal. We are part of a culture which has been decanting meanings for ages, including those of colours. These coded meanings are shared connotations of feelings, sensations, atmosphere, thoughts, and moods. Repeatedly this symbolism is used without realizing how colours communicate; is there anyone who has ever felt a little blue? So, if colours can express, gamers would get messages which are related to reactions and sensations. The understanding of how colours are used in digital games would provide us a better comprehension about what and how the information could be interpreted by users. Diverse elements of digital games will be taken into account, e.g. characters, landscapes, clothes, objects, interfaces. Some examples would be useful: in StarCraft, the colours of the interfaces change with the race that is being played; if Protoss race is chosen, the command interface will be yellow, colour associated with intelligence, main attribute of protoss. Another illustration, if the game need to emphasize that our character is in solitude or in a sad environment, a good option would be to use blue in the scenery, like in Oddworld: Abe’s exodus. The best format for this presentation is a poster, since screenshots are a convenient way to illustrate how the game industry has been using colours. Hence, there will be posters explaining different characteristics of colours and its connotations whit examples of digital games. The number of panels will depend on the size of the boards assigned to this kind of presentations.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Evolution Of Space Configuration In Videogames

Date created: 
2005-05-28
Abstract: 

Any game takes place within a space, so that the rules of the game are in force within its boundaries, what Salen and Zimmerman (2004) have called ‘the magic circle’. Videogames must also follow this precept, by creating a virtual playfield. How this virtual space has been represented has always been constrained by what technology allows and affords; as technology advances, the configuration of those spaces has also developed and become more complex. This paper deals with the basic spatial configurations in videogames from early games until today, how they position the player with respect to the playfield, and how they transform and challenge pre-existing spatial representations from other media. The first limitation of videogame spaces is the screen itself, which frames the events of the game. Even though computers may have the capability of generating an infinite space, human perception would be unable to encompass it, and still there is no device that could represent an infinite space. As a playfield, it also needs boundaries so that the player knows where the game rules apply. The technological limitations show first in the representation of the space, as the remediation of other spatial representations into the digital medium. As processor speeds and screen resolutions have improved, games have taken place in different spaces: - non-visual spaces, as in written fiction (Zork) - 2D spaces, from the side (Super Mario) or from above (Civilization) - isometric perspective, from architecture (Marble Madness, The Sims) - classic 3D perspective, from painting, architecture, photography (Super Mario 64) These different imported representations allow the player interpret the space according to pre-existing conventions; however the space extends beyond the limits of the screen, so it requires some navigation system. The way in which the space is navigated brings about diverse spatial configurations which situate the player differently with respect to the gameplay. As Jenkins (2002, 2004) proposes, contested spaces are a basic feature in videogames; every different spatial configuration involves a different contest and challenge to advance in it or to ‘beat’ it. These configurations are dependent on the hardware of the computer, so that the larger the processing power, the more elaborate the configuration of the space is. The different configurations (in increasing order of complexity) are: - Screen-to-screen games: every stage consists of one single screen, which shows all the space the avatar had to move in, and when the player completed that stage, she passed on to the next, never going to the previous one. (Pac-Man, Galaxian, Donkey Kong, Arkanoid) - Scrolling screens: The space of each stage is larger than the screen, so the player only sees a portion of the playfield. The screen moves along with the character, scrolling along the space; the playfield is usually shaped as a long road, from left to right or upwards. In early videogames the player could not go back in space once it had passed the left limit of the screen (Super Mario); in others the space advances so that the player has to keep up with it, which is a feature of most shoot-‘em-up such as Gradius. - Expansive spaces: When the space of every stage expands in the four directions outside the screen, it can be displayed as a series of interconnected screens, either screen-to-screen (Prince of Persia, 1992) or scrolling between screens (Castlevania IV). - Impossible Spaces: Taking advantage of the representation used and/or the way the space is configured, the playfield follows a configuration that is impossible in the real world. This is the case of Zork, where it is impossible to draw a coherent map of the different dungeons, or of the first Zelda, where every screen is randomly generated. These different configurations transform the spatial representations imported from other media, as the ones described above, or other traditional space configurations such as labyrinths and mazes. According to Hermann Kern, labyrinth and maze have two different definitions; the maze is a structure where one can get lost, with dead-ends and loops, whereas in the labyrinth one does not get lost, the point being to disorient and delay whoever enters it. The classic Pac-Man takes place in a labyrinth, for instance; if the player can only see a portion of the labyrinth it becomes maze-like, since she feels lost and looping around without the whole picture of the labyrinth, as happens in Pacman Vs. (GC, 2003). The aim of the paper is to highlight the relationship of technology in the possibilities of the representation. Developments in hardware will not cancel out previous configurations, as this paper intends to demonstrate, but allow more complex ones and defy previous spatial representations in new ways. References: Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play. Game Design Fundamentals, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. Henry Jenkins, ‘Game Design as Narrative Architecture’, in Noah Wardrip & Pat Harrigan, eds. First Person. New Media as Story, Performance and Game, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. Henry Jenkins & Kurt Squire, ‘The Art of Contested Spaces’, in Lucien King, ed., Game On. The History and Culture of Videogames, London, 2002 Hermann Kern, 1982. Through the Labyrinth: Desings and Meanings over 5000 years A. Clay, trans. London: Prestel Verlag 2000.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Fictive affinities in Final Fantasy XI: complicit and critical play in fantastic nations.

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-06-02
Abstract: 

Abstract: The Japanese role-playing game meta-genre is marked by structures of diegesis that suggest a distinct ontology of nationality, race, and identity. Particularly, the Final Fantasy games have become associated with a nuanced, unstable play of these identities. The most recent work in the series is the first that is presented as a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. My paper will address what I call fictive affinities (in the tradition of Benedict Anderson’s discussion of national identities as imaginary communities) in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, and identify specific visual and ludological rhetorics and techniques of race and nationality. Some of these are coherent with themes and structures developed in earlier (single-player) iterations of Final Fantasy; others are original to the multiplayer title, and both reflect and repress the international, trans-hemispheric nature of the game itself. The semantics and thematics of this work as a product of a genre – in this case, of fantasy – can be read intertextually. Drawing examples from literary as well as ludological artifacts, I suggest that certain questions of racial and national identity are endemic to the fantasy genre in which Final Fantasy XI (but not all Final Fantasy games) participates, that FFXI can be read as part of a broader Asian, and somewhat more specifically Japanese, reading of that genre, while the mechanics of the game as well as its representative practices create structures of complicity and critique which derive from the virtual agency of the player and its interpellation by the demands of the ludological regime. The fictional world of Final Fantasy XI – called Vana’diel – is a richly articulated fantasy realm in the tradition of other pseudo-medieval fantasy worlds, both literary (Middle Earth, Earthsea, Narnia) and ludic (the World of Warcraft, Everquest’s Norrath, Ragnarok Online). Vana’diel is dominated by 3 fictional nation-states – or rather metropoles, city states with complex and changing hegemonic power over the territory of the 2 landmasses and several islands of the world – one of which a player must join upon beginning the game. This selection of fictional nationality occurs after having chosen a race and gender. These choices determine the initial demands made on the player, who is then placed in a web of quests and missions of unclear political implications. Like most of its predecessor games in the Final Fantasy series, the game begins in media res .The player-races and nations – uneasily united under the banner of a 4th, non-player city-state – are in a state of conflict, called the Conquest, with an array of humanoid enemies called the Beastmen. The player is obliged to participate in this Conquest (with implications economic as well as political – the state of the Conquest affects the availability of in-game economic resources) in the early part of the game. Both playable races and "beastmen" are roundly drawn from human cultures. The playable races refer to American, European, and Oceanic/Asian mostly first-world cultures; the "beastmen" are drawn from Indonesian, African, and American aboriginal cultures, particularly the colonial-era representations of them. A straightforward visual analysis comparing game imagery with historical ethnographic imagery makes the connection clear. I argue that the colonialist discourse of the game can be seen as a Japanese-European hybrid, while the specific complicities of the game and its negotiation of post-colonial themes is consistent with the structure of other Japanese role-playing games, particularly its immediate predecessors in the Final Fantasy series. After the initial period, the game itself requires considerable play with other players in order to adequately navigate it and reveal the epiphanies of identity and nuances that also characterize the Final Fantasy franchise. The process of forming parties of play often requires players of different linguistic, national, and regional identities, as well as different ages and genders, to work in close coordination in elaborate technical performance. English-speaking and Japanese-speaking players are able to participate in their native languages, using game software that allowed them to generate certain key-phrases that would be translated across clients. At the same time, 3rd-language communities began to form with the introduction of Spanish-language and French-language "linkshells," or in-game play communities, using the English-language client software. The game was first released in Japan in 2002; the North American version of the game was released in 2003, and a European released occurred in October of 2004. The arrival of European players has invigorated the 3rd-language linkshells – initially dominated by Quebecois, Hispanic, and Brazilian players in the Americas. In-game fictional nationalities and races would both inform play style and be compromised by real-world identities. . Nonetheless, Japanese and English language communities of play dominate, and national cultures of play style became articulated in in-game and extra-game discourse and forums. The relationship and interplay between the two domains of affinity, and the interpretation of the diegetic affinities, are the focus of my presentation. Selected cited works: Anderson, Benedict, Imagined communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, (Versa, 2001) Altman, Rick, "A Semantic/Syntactic Approach to Film Genre," Cinema Journal, 23:3 Chizuko, Ueno, Nationalism and Gender, trans. By Beverly Yamamoto (Melbourne: Transpacific Press, 2004) Harootunian, Harry D., "Ideology as Conflict" in Tetsuo Najita and J. Victor Koschmann, ed., Conflict in Modern Japanese History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982) Ivy, Marilyn, Discourse of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan Iwabuchi, Koichi, Recentering Globalization: Popular culture and Japanese transnationalism. (Duke University Press, 2002) Kelly, William H, "Is there a Japanese way of playing?" in Hendry, Joy (ed.) Japan at Play: The Ludic and Logic of Power (Routledge, 2001) Morris-Suzuki, Tessa, Re-inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation. (M.E. Sharpe, 1998)

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Understanding Korean experiences of online game hype, identity, and the menace of the "Wang-tta".

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-05-30
Abstract: 

THEME: Internationalism: Worlds at Play The context South Korea continues to set the pace in the world of online games. The nation is a world leader in broadband penetration rates and has a very high level of online game playing. This study reports on the intricate relationship between the sociocultural factors at work in Korean game communities and the context of how games are received. The original field research reported here adds to current knowledge of the interplay between science, technology, and human relationships as expressed in digital games, a growing pastime and mode of social expression. Korean gamers are an excellent field site for studying the global phenomenon of game communities, both online and offline. Gamers in Korea have repeatedly made world headlines with reports on their fascination with games, their real-life social activities relating to game parlours ("PC Bangs"), video game addictions, and even cases of Internet-related death. Of course, moral panics such as these come in waves, and while it is has simply been the case that Koreans are internationally notorious for being very "addicted to video games," there has not yet been a coherent attempt in social research to address the reasons for that in a comprehensive manner. This paper presents an analysis of case studies derived from fieldwork that was designed to consider the different ways Korean game players establish community online and offline. The paper argues that it is possible to formulate a more comprehensive understanding of game players’ life and motivations if we take into account theories of play (e.g., Huizinga). These theories add perspective to game research by highlighting the concept of online sociability as it is created in the interactions between players, online and offline. Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois, and James Hans provide alternative explanations of the experiences involved in the player’s relationship with the game. These theories add to our understanding to the technologically mediated life-world of online gamers in Korea and help us to dig deeper into why gaming seems so compelling in Korea and possibly elsewhere. Methodology The study relied on ethnographic research conducted in a variety of settings, using three primary methods. First, in-depth interviews – online and offline -- were conducted in both Korean and English with players who participate in game communities and subject matter experts in the field. The interviews provided insight into the personal narratives of game players and their motivations for engaging in communities associated with game playing. Second, two focus groups were conducted with a variety of people from different ages and backgrounds on the subject of general Internet addiction in South Korea. This served to compare the many perspectives on Internet usage in Korea. Third, participant-observation in and around PC game rooms (PC Bangs) in Korea allowed the researcher to experience gaming environments and report on the observed situations. This participation in culture and lived experiences was absolutely essential in order to gain an adequate understanding of the role games play in people’s everyday lives. Through these various methods, an assessment of the reasons for intense engagement in online game communities was possible for this study. Collaboration, competition and community This paper is inspired by a Korean term that emerged in interviews: the concept of "Wang-tta." This term describes isolating and bullying the worst game player out of one’s peer group. One can be said to, "make Wang-tta" or be the object of Wang-tta. As a consequence, there is, immense social pressure to be good at games, and many young people take every opportunity to practice the game and become more skilled. In addition, age and gender are important considerations in everyday activities, interactions and life decisions. These issues will be discussed as relayed by informants. Based on this research, we can look at game playing in Korea and rank motivational criteria into three areas, in order of importance: 1. Community and social life 2. Potential profit and stardom through professional/amateur gaming 3. Access to a fantasy life because of more social mobility online. Competitiveness and gaming pervades all aspects of life in Korea. Outside of many Korean classrooms there is a sheet posted of who gets the best grades. There is also a sheet posted of who is best at StarCraft. Video games are seen as a sport, and treated just as seriously. One of the most intriguing things about Korea is that unlike anywhere else in the world, pro-gamers are regarded as celebrities without the common negative "geek" taboo that gamers have in other parts of the world. The mainstream media and sponsorship by big corporations also helps to keep the hyperbole for games like StarCraft going, especially their promotion of pro-gamers. Many people aspire to be just like them and this contributes to the national passion for games. There are many cultural and environmental factors that also facilitate participation in online communities. Korea’s population density, crowded homes, and broadband infrastructure are definite factors to take into consideration when thinking about access to online games. Even if a person has their own computer and online connection at home, it is "easier to communicate in person" at a PC bang—to coordinate with those on your team, and have other tangible experiences together. The "bang culture," of the PC bangs provides meeting places offline. Within this culture one can see indications of the way online communities are facilitated, built, and maintained. This study will provide a synthesis of traditional theories of play within a Korean context, showing that indeed successful online communities work in relation to their offline worlds. This will be useful for understanding of the types of environmental considerations that need to occur when assessing digital gaming habits and culture, at home and abroad.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

A Comparison of Motivational Factors between Game Players

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-04-15
Abstract: 

ABSTRACT Motivation is one of the driving forces behind the recent interest in games with educational goals. People willingly play complex games and we would like to channel that willingness to participate in complex challenges into the educational context. In this paper, we report on a survey administered to two groups of university students, computer science students and business students, examining the role of motivation in electronic games. The results of this study highlight the similarities and differences between the two user groups, based on a framework of motivational factors, and may help to guide the design of educational games and activities. INTRODUCTION This research is a preliminary component of a larger research project, SAGE (Simulations and Advanced Games for Education in Health) [1]. The underlying premise for this research is that the motivation students exhibit in playing games can be capitalized on to develop educational activities that generate similar enthusiasm for learning complex skills and persistence in the activity. In this work, we report on the results of a survey examining the role of motivational factors in two game playing populations: computer science students and business students. The survey is intended to address two questions. First, are motivational factors relevant to the choice of games and the playing of games in these populations? Second, are motivational factors specific to the populations or shared across the populations? The answers to these questions will be useful in two ways. Firstly, we can examine the similarities and differences in responses to motivational factors to evaluate the premise that games are generally motivating and that presenting educational material as a game may increase the motivation of students to participate. Secondly, those motivational factors that appear strongly among both groups may be incorporated in the design of educational applications that require persistence and self-directed learning, whether the application is a game or not. MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS Motivation is the driving force behind the recent interest in games with educational goals. That is, if people willingly play complex games we would like to channel that willingness to participate in complex challenges into the educational context. A metalevel analysis of psychological literature on motivation proposed a framework of positive and negative motivational factors for the educational context related to control, context, competency and engagement [2]. Control factors support self-regulation or autonomy, such as interaction, encouragement of innovation, providing rationales, providing relevant goals, choice and managed guidance. Context includes rationales, feedback and storyline. Competency factors include scaffolding of tasks, appropriate feedback, attainable challenges and models of successful strategies. Engagement factors include personalization, rewards, role playing, challenge, personal notes, collaboration and communication. These factors of motivation are not necessarily discrete sets and aspects may be associated with multiple factors. GAMING SURVEY Using this framework of motivational factors, we surveyed two university populations to understand of the role of these factors in game play in these two populations. That is, what impact do the reported motivational factors have in the context of game playing as reported by these students? The two populations consisted of business students, a population of well educated occasional electronic game players, and computer science students, a population of well educated but more frequent game players. RESULTS Overall, we discovered that the two groups shared similar preferences for factors of control. Both groups reported playing games that allowed them to make choices and made use of the ability during the game. The most common types of choices exercised include speed levels, camera angles/views, time limits, difficulty and music. Students also reported they made use of options that allowed them to replay previously played levels and almost always finished each level before moving on to the next. One main difference that was reported by the two groups was the use of side games and extra features, which were more popular among the computer science students. When examining factors related to context, we found a small number of significant differences between the two groups. Our results surrounding the importance of storyline and characters in game play were somewhat unclear, however the indications from this survey were that they are not as important as we expected. This was more pronounced among the business students. As evidence, the most popular genres of games played by this group were puzzle and card games, such Tetris, Snood and Solitaire. Most games belonging to these genres contain little or no storyline and very shallow characters, if any. We found that animation and graphics were the most highly ranked sources of feedback for both groups and that both groups personalized several aspects of their games. Challenge and feelings of competency were important factors for both groups of students, however, in many instances this was more evident among the computer science group. An appropriate level of challenge was important to both groups and they reported they played games that were difficult to master. When learning how to play new games, the most popular responses by both groups were that they learned by themselves, with the help of friends and through game instructions. Difficult levels, when encountered, were conquered through persistence and help from friends. The computer science students also reported often using online answers to pass difficult levels, much more so than the business students. The two groups of students differed most in terms of factors of engagement. Many of these differences may be attributed to their exposure to technology. Both groups reported they preferred multiplayer games, however the business students reported playing with other players they knew in real life and typically were located in the same room. The computer science students reported they often played online and were much less likely to know their opponents in real life. The computer science students also participated in online gaming communities. Surprisingly, the average length of play for both groups was not significantly different; computer science students played for 96 minutes and business students played for 87 minutes, indicating that both groups were engaged in their game play. CONCLUSIONS This work examined the actual impact of motivational factors in the game play of two diverse user groups. We found that motivational factors, particularly, control and challenge, were reported by both communities of users. Consequently, the aspects of those factors that appear strongly in both groups can be used in the design of new activities to increase motivation and those factors showing differences can be used to tailor applications for specific communities. Future work is focused on the incorporation of these findings into educational games and other activities to enable us to evaluate their effect on student motivation and performance. Our goal is to provide guidelines for designers of educational software that increase the motivation of the user to learn new skills and to be persistence in the participation of the activity. REFERENCES 1. Simulation and Advanced Gaming Environments. (2004). http://www.sfu.ca/lidc/sage1/. 2. Watters, C. and Duffy, J. (2004). Metalevel Analysis of Motivational Factors for Interface Design. In K. Fisher, Erdelez, S. and McKechnie, E.F. (Ed.), Theories of Information Behavior: A Researcher's Guide. Medford, NJ: ASIST (Information Today, Inc.) (In Press).

Document type: 
Conference presentation

New Design Methods for Activist Gaming

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-05-29
Abstract: 

Significant work in the IT, philosophy, and communications communities has focused on designing systems that support human values, but this work has not yet been widely applied to game design. Designers and engineers have become increasingly aware of ways in which the artifacts they create can embody political, social, and ethical values, but there are few practical methodologies for a game designer to draw from when producing games which systematically incorporate values in the design process. Not unexpectedly, many game designers struggle to find a balance between their own values, those of users and other stakeholders, and those of the surrounding culture. In this paper, we present the RAPUNSEL project as a prime example and case study of design in a values-rich context and describe our efforts toward navigating the complexities this entails. In RAPUNSEL, a three-year, NSF-funded project, a team of computer scientists, interaction designers, and social psychologists were tasked with the collaborative creation of a networked game environment to teach programming to middle-school girls. Although it is a large project with multiple interlinked components (e.g. engineering, pedagogy, interface, graphics, networking, etc.), challenging questions about values emerged in several key phases. It was therefore, essential to the quality of the project as a whole to iteratively address questions concerning values and to systematically implement our answers in the design. Drawing on a number of existing approaches and analytic frameworks we demonstrate the range of values that we considered over the project’s lifecycle. We present initial steps toward the development of a systematic methodology for discovery, analysis, and integration of values in technology design in the hope that others may both benefit from and build upon this work. Additionally we present a means for dynamically categorizing values and present specific examples of values tradeoffs we encountered in the game design process and their subsequent resolutions.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

The design of narrative as an immersive simulation

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-05-31
Abstract: 

This paper proposes a concept of narrative as the design of an immersive simulation to be experienced by the interactor in a video game. We face this new narrative status as the reconfiguration of a creative process that was initiated in an attempt to generate, in the digital format, a certain concept of narrative inherited from the canonic cinema, but that, faced with the simulative nature of the video game format, was forced to take a different shape. To explain this concept, we draw a brief taxonomy of agency modes, that is, the diverse attempts made by different video game genres to turn the interactor into an implicated character into the game. We divide these different approaches into two broader genres: in one side, the character-oriented games, and in other side, the simulation games, and we try to point out the fundamental characteristics for each one. For the character-related games, we focus on the concept of Umwelt – as it was proposed by theorists Jacob and Thure von Uexkull, and defined here by Nöth as "the way in which the environment is represented to the organism’s mind and it comprises the scope of the organism’s operational interaction with its environment". For video games, we define it as the simulation of alternative environmental capacities that can be experienced by the player to the extend of giving her the sense of physical presence and immersion into a three-dimensional space. For the simulation games, we focus on the computational modeling of complex systems, based upon abstract theories and concepts, into a time/space simulative system to be managed by the interactor. At the end, we try to point out the emergence of a game format that combines features of these two generic modes of agency into the design of a narrative to be experienced as an immersive simulation. This concept of narrative is starting to gain the figure of a set of computational and semiotic procedures for modeling conceptual universes, in a systemic manner, generating dramatic, virtual environments to be inhabited by the interactor in a way only she can establish in each experience. In this new format, one fundamental notion guides us and defines the premise for game as a narrative form, that is the concept of agency as "the satisfying power to take meaningful action and see the results of our decisions and choices" (Murray, 2000: 126). In the case of the allegedly narrative video game, agency is what provides the interactor – the player– with the possibility of being a part of the story universe, making decisions as one of its characters. This is a scenario we oppose to the more common link made between games and narrative, the one that refers to the game’s theme as its story. "A game’s theme is nothing more than a justification for the games material: a rational explanation that establishes the setting and makes up the global motivation for the games iconography and the events that take place inside the game" (Darley, 2002: 237). What is important is the actual practice of the game, which implies a certain type of "kinesthetic acting" that becomes an end in itself (2002: 237). This "kinesthetic acting" allows agency to the player, turns her into an agent of both story and enunciation, and is the most fundamental characteristic of game. It defines game as a format, and is present in all of its genres, from the least figurative, with its essentially formal logic, to the highly figurative and more explicitly narrative kind. However, when this characteristic reaches the narrative milieu of figurative games, it seems to allow for a certain movement of emotional immersion akin to the one that defines canonic film, and this is what really seems to bring the two otherwise very different forms closer together. However, beyond emulating cinematic aspects as depth of field, shades and textures, it has become clear that the starting ground of presence in the game environment can only be fully implemented when our experience of contact with the objects and other elements of the game world can also be able to simulate aspects of that which we refer to being their behavior in the real world. This way, in the video game, the question of embodiment may become, beyond the main condition for the experience of being in the world, also the premise for a potentially sophisticated experience of alternative Umwelts, a change of point of view and physical abilities. Or else, beyond the implementing of different affordances (Gibson, 1986) both in the game environment and in its avatar and interface, it is the possibility of making our actual change of perception, through the embodiment of a character both physically and emotionally implicated in different contexts, that which turns the video game a potentially interesting narrative format. The act of being in the world can gather more meaning than just immersion, presence, navigation: what still separates game from the status of an artistic experience, more than a total immersion technology, to us, seems to be connected to the creation of semiotic systems capable of turning an immersive experience into a perceptive living experience under the motivations of a character with real dramatic power. REFERENCES DARLEY, Andrew (2002). Genealogia y tradicion: el espetáculo mecanizado. El declive de la narracion: el nuevo cine de espectáculo y el vídeo musical. Cultura visual digital. Espetáculo y nuevos géneros en los medios de comunicación. Barcelona: Paidós. GIBSON, James J. The Theory of Affordances. Ecological approach to Visual Perception. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986. MURRAY, Janet. Hamlet on the Holodeck: the future of narrative in cyberspace. Cambridge: MIT, 1997. NÖTH, Winfried. Ecossemiotics.

Document type: 
Conference presentation