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

Receive updates for this collection

Consumer Driven Computer Game Design

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-04-14
Abstract: 

The Critical Incident Techniques (CIT) is widely used to study customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the service industry. CIT provides questionnaire respondents with an open format to describe in their own words incidents that create lasting impressions. The purpose of this research is to develop a methodology for computer game design with the goal and intent of creating games that increase the consumer’s satisfaction through play. Too often game designers, either with or without intent, create games that satisfy their own perceptions of a good game without considering the needs of the consumers that will play the games. Previous research has shown that retail products and services offered internationally are often incongruent with the expectations of the target customer. Global retailers that push products without consideration of the target needs and wants too frequently lose market share and the opportunity to build lasting brand loyalty. Customer driven computer game design applies the critical incident technique as a means to define the elements of good and bad game design using a proven tool to build customer satisfaction. A methodology is described whereby game designers establish the goal and intentions of the game by listening to the voice of the consumer. The methodology was tested by distributing CIT surveys to active game players who each wrote two stories about their game playing behavior and experiences. The first story described the respondent’s best experience playing games and the second story described their worst experience. The stories were archived and content analyzed using Gremler’s best-practice methods for identifying categories and critical incidents. A summary sheet describing the frequency of good and bad incidents was derived by three coders. The respondents’ original game playing stories were further abstracted into key good and bad descriptions and appended to the summary CIT frequency data sheet to create a consumer game report. Creative artists were asked to review the consumer reports on the elements of good and bad game design. After reviewing the data, the artists were asked to design a new game that they felt would most likely satisfy the customer’s view of a good game. The creative artists were then assigned the task of creating a new game and were evaluated on their ability to satisfy the customer driven game criteria. Upon completion of the concept design process, each artist submitted a one page story describing the game and supplemented the story with concept drawings that represented the game and the game protagonist. The game concepts were field tested using focus groups of consumers that matched the target demographics of the new game. This paper reports the methodology for customer driven computer game design and provides details of the game concepts selected by teenagers and young adults in Taiwan.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Cinematic Camera as Videogame Cliché: Analysis and Software Demonstration

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

"Only with effort can the camera be forced to lie: basically it is an honest medium: so the photographer is much more likely to approach nature in a spirit of inquiry, of communion, instead of with the saucy swagger of self-dubbed ‘artists’" -Edward Weston, "On Photography" by Susan Sontag Of all the fictions presented in the videogame medium, perhaps none is more prevalent and less recognized that the notion of the camera. The central lie told to the videogame player by the camera is that it exists at all. Although referred to widely in the critical and game development literature, the peculiar nature of the videogame camera is that it is not there, at least not as an optical camera. If a camera is best described as "an optical system for recording light," a videogame camera is properly described as "a computational system for producing light." While this difference is apparent and self-evident, the ongoing collusion of the optical and videogame cameras has resulted in a number of unique, and perhaps avoidable, conceptual and methodological moves. Confusions arise as the conceptualization of the videogame camera merges with the optical camera, forcing a reading of videogames as form of photography or, more often, as cinema. The consequences of these conceptual and methodological missteps include the following key issues: First, the videogame medium is rich in examples of non-optical, non-cinematic camera perspectives. Games such as Pac-Man and Asteroids provide clearly non-Euclidian spaces rendered in the service of the symbolic needs of the game rather than any effort to mimic cinema. Even a contemporary game such as SimCity 4 forgoes possible optical (and therefore cinematic) perspectives to present the word in an impossible isometric perspective. The contemporary development of 3-D technologies and hardware has meshed with and fueled the aesthetic recapitulation of Renaissance impulse toward realism in art, leading game development efforts away from classic, non-optical perspectives and toward the scientific perspective of the cinematic, optical camera. This move has unnecessarily disadvantaged "classic" game designs and winnowed the design vocabulary for contemporary game developers. In short, we have more Doom and less Spacewar. This consequence can be described as "the cinematic camera as videogame cliché’" A second issue mirrors the first as theorists attempt to merge cinematic theory with videogame theory based on assumptions about apparent structural similarities in the media. However, this theoretical position does not account for the conventional merging of the videogame and optical camera concepts. Even if, as Lev Manovich argues, "Rather than being merely one cultural language among others, cinema is now becoming the cultural interface, this is a transient phenomenon. Even though games may have absorbed cinema has their primary interface, this is a not a necessary arrangement. Instead, it becomes clear that the cinematic interface only remains necessary until indigenous videogame interfaces develop further and reach full cultural adoption. The colloquial evolution and encoding of the cinematic, optical camera perspective as the primary player perspective in games is not a necessary configuration of the interface. Games do not require a cinematic interface and therefore are not bound to a cinematic theoretical model. Moving beyond a strict reading of the videogame camera as an optical camera returns valuable design options to the game development library, provides a platform for recontextualizing film theory vis-à-vis games and establishes a theoretical platform for considering games as sui generis and not simply an extension of other modern media. To reach this perspective, this paper describes the evolution of the optical, cinematic camera perspective in games, describes how the cinematic camera became the preferred videogame interface, develops a theory of consequences described as the "cinematic camera as videogame cliché", outlines competing perspectival urges in the videogame medium and, finally, proposes solutions. To illustrate and illuminate how the optical cinematic camera perspective limits expression and creation in the form, this paper is paired with a software project that provides several non-optical, non-cinematic camera perspectives. This real-time, 3-D software allows the player to experience radical, non-optical camera perspectives as described in the paper.

Document type: 
Conference presentation