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

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Wherever Hardware, There’ll be Games. The evolution of hardware and shifting industrial leadership in the gaming industry 1968-2004

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

Video game was the first truly digital entertainment medium, requiring processing power both in the production and consumption stage. Born out of the transistor, it was also intimately connected with its logic: the doubling of the processor capacity every 18th month or the halving of the price for the same processing capacity in the same time. Transistor technology and video games have been able to conquer society in an evolutionary process. Hence, video games have had an unprecedented ability to conquer new platforms and incorporate new technologies. In this regard it is the foremost example that growth of a medium succeeds not by digital convergence but digital divergence (1). What started out on a mainframe has later moved to the arcade, the home console, handhelds, the personal computer, and the mobile phone. The development of new platforms has made gaming experience possible trough a more diversified market that incorporate a larger part of our life (work, home, travel time, leisure time) and economic segments. Today, games are available on five different platforms (2), in some cases these different platforms have been non-competitive in the sense that they have complemented each other (such as the handheld and the console), in other cases they have been competitive to a large degree (e.g. the console and the PC). The game mediums’ unique ability to utilize and adapt to different platform makes it metaphorical to its nature. For every gaming platform, games have developed its own expression and the platform diversification in itself has also been one of the reasons behind the long term viability and growth of the game industry; when one platform for various reasons has stagnated, another platform has been able to continue to innovate. The development of hardware has also changed the nature of games and gamers from a socio-cultural point of view. When the main gaming market moved from the arcade to the home console market, adventures with developed characters became possible. When the CD-ROM was introduced to the console market with Playstation and Sega Saturn, the ability to incorporate music, video and high quality pictures made lifestyle oriented games possible that could follow different cultural trends. The evolution of communication technology made different kind of online games possible, making games a social experience. The move from the arcade to the home meant, from a sociological point of view, that the group of players became more diverse. People who previously would or could not play computer games due to the fact that the games were placed in public meeting places mostly dominated by young males, could now enter the game worlds from home: elderly people, children, and women. Recent surveys of Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) (3) show, for example, that the average age of players is unexpectedly high, and that a comparatively large fraction of the players are women. The domestication of computer games also led to a higher degree of social complexity in- and outside the games. In addition to the interaction with players in the game the home backdrop allows interaction with family members and friends physically present. The use of home communication technologies for gaming purposes increases the interaction complexity further. The result is a multi-faceted and simultaneous on- and offline interaction process. Object Our paper explores how the shifts and diversification of video game platforms have affected both the industry, as well as its socioeconomic context. We argue that the technological development in primarily processing capacity and later on storage capacity and communication technologies profoundly has changed the comparative advantages of different business model over the history of video games. The nature of this transformation can explain the shift in industrial leadership for companies producing hardware, as well as the outcomes of the battle between firms from different industries competing for this leadership. The paper will study the hardware and industry system in three major periods, the Atari era, the Nintendo era and the Sony era. Each period has had its own market logic and the shift has been unexpected but fast, regardless of the strong position held by the dominant firm. As digital technology has transformed boundaries between industries, firms from many earlier separated industries have entered the game hardware market. Repeatedly, the disruptive nature of technology has changed the competitive marketplace. Industrial leaders have been unable to change when the technological development has transformed the competitive advantages of different business models. To a large degree, the situation resembles what has been described as "the innovator’s dilemma" (4). We argue that the proliferation of platforms have been essential to the evolution of the video game industry. When one platform stagnated, new forms of software could evolve in entirely unexpected places. The multitude of platforms made it possible to overcome tendencies of stagnation. It has also made it harder for dominant actors to monopolize or control the market. Technology has always found a way to slip through. The recent emergence of on-line gaming has increased the room for innovation in several unexpected ways. Indeed, it has added a new dimension to gaming. As communities evolve around games an interactive social context is added. The effects of Metcalfe’s law are added to Moore’s law, and a vast expanse of innovative possibilities is created. The new social context of gaming might call for a very different kind of entrepreneurial capabilities. (1) Jenkins, H. (2001) "Convergence? I Diverge" Technology Review, June issue. (2) Console, handheld, PC, arcade, mobile phone. (3) Yee, N. (2004) "The Psychology of MMORPGs: Emotional Investment, Motivations, Relationship Formation, and Problematic Usage" in Schroeder, R. & Axelsson, AS. (eds.) Avatars at Work and Play: Collaboration and Interaction in Shared Virtual Environments. London: Springer-Verlag. (in press) and Axelsson, AS. & Regan, T. "Playing Online" in Peter Vorderer & Jennings Bryant Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates. (4) Christensen, C. (2000) The Innovator’s Dilemma. HarperBusiness Essential.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

’Feel It, Don’t Think: the Significance of Affect in the Study of Digital Games

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

As a discourse, digital game studies is still in the process of formation, charting its terrain, defining its terms, and formalizing its methodologies. Even at this early stage, however, the field has already accrued a number of important grounding assumptions and embedded paradigms. Key among these is linear or Albertian perspective, which functions as a structural model for gamespace, and, to a large extent, as an epistemological model for the discourse that studies it. Digital gamespace is a derivative of Renaissance pictorial space. It is designed by and for subjects that belong to a culture of visuality, and know how to ‘read’ an image and to order its space rationally. To date, this visually biased, structural/semiotic angle has tended to dominate the methodological side of game studies. Structure – rhetorical, narrative, taxonomical – is a key concern in much current research, with games scholars calling for the construction of unified vocabularies, taxonomies, rhetorical strategies, and definitions in the field of games and game design. Structural and semiotic approaches have also been used to theorize the experience of gameplay itself, with linguistic and rhetorical models brought to bear on the issue of enjoyment in gaming, and psychoanalytic frameworks used to investigate the relationship between player, character, and gamespace. Approaches to gaming and interactivity remain incomplete, however, "if they operate only on the semantic or semiotic level, however that level is defined (linguistically, logically, narratologically, ideologically, or all of these in combination, as a Symbolic)." (Massumi 27) As any player knows, the rush you get from a good game is not confined to the space of the screen; it is a subrational, bodily thing as well, involving phenomenological or affective dimensions which cannot be programmed into a game, but which are nonetheless vital to good gameplay. Affect is key to the perception of images, and to the notion of meaningful interaction with them. While this is true of any image, it is impossible to ignore in digital games, where the user engages dynamically with moving images. What is lost in structural or semiotic approaches is precisely this sense of image perception as an embodied ’event’. Most games researchers are players as well, and the field of game studies is underpinned by a shared – if not yet widely acknowledged – recognition of digital games as rule-based systems that players interact with on an affective plane, in real space and time. Nonetheless, the notion of affect has yet to be theoretically unpacked to any significant degree digital games researchers, and there is little concensus in the field regarding the definition of the term, which is widely used as a synonym for emotion. As it will be understood here, however, affect is not the same thing as emotion. Affect is a way of describing the ’feel’ or intensity of a game, and as such it differs from the sociocultural capture or qualification of this intensity – the manifest content (narrative, symbolic, emotional, or otherwise) of a game. Affect refers to the unquantifiable features of a game – those phenomenological aspects of interactivity that are difficult to describe and to model theoretically, but which nonetheless make a game come alive. While narrative and structural approaches have much to reveal about the content of a game, they are far less articulate when it comes to discussing gameplay in affective terms. As console-based action and FPS games, pervasive games, and other more ’active’ genres become more popular amongst games researchers, however, they bring with them new methodological requirements. The following discussion addresses some of these requirements. Drawing on the theoretical approaches of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Brian Massumi, and examining a variety of digital games and platforms ranging from the cerebral (online chess) to the physically involving (Eye Toy), it looks at interactivity along affective lines, in terms of the embodied nature of image perception and the player’s material relationship to digital technologies. Works Cited: Massumi, Brian. Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2002.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Liberal Sims?: Simulated Difference and the Commodity of Social Diversity

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-06-01
Abstract: 

My paper focuses on the different kinds of audiences represented in Electronic Arts’ hugely successful game The Sims, isolating the female player from the male player, the queer player from the straight player, and the racially or ethnically marginalized player from the Caucasian player. It will focus on how The Sims, praised as socially progressive for its liberal views towards same-sex relationships, absence of racial stereotyping, and non-sexualized presentation of women, is interpreted by, targeted toward, and marketed to these various different audiences. The paper will conclude that this recent spike in social liberalism may not be the result of a socio-cultural change in ideology, but a change in economic strategy and the marketing of cultural and sexual difference. The history of the video game medium is glaringly phallocentric and greatly mono-cultural. The traditional target market for all types of digital gaming is male – and predominately young, white, middle-class, and principally heterosexual males. While early games featured abstracted avatars and characters that might have appealed to everyone regardless of gender, sexuality, and race – nothing in the game play of Atari/arcade era games like Asteroids (1979), Missile Command (1980) or Space Invaders (1978) suggested the personal details of the unseen characters involved, and it was hard for players to identify with nonrepresentational figures like Q-Bert and Pac-man on the basis of ethnicity or sexuality – more photo-realistic games emerging in the mid-eighties depicted playable heroes in such a way to appeal to target audiences. The vast majority of playable characters from this era were male, customarily white when depicted as humanoid, and presumably heterosexual, since female love interests were frequently being rescued by the male heroes (examples from contemporary and classic digital games are provided in the paper). Theories concerning this lack of diversity are, of course, rooted in Western culture’s histories of patriarchy, hetero-normativity, and Caucasian-centred thinking, but are also influenced by other sociological factors affecting how gender, sexuality and race are intertwined with technology and new-media. According to Brunner, Bennett, and Honey, women and people of colour avoid taking advanced level courses in mathematics, science and technology more often than Caucasian males, leaving the industries responsible for designing digital games dominated by white men (72). This warrants regarding video games and technological advances on a whole as material commodities "developed, controlled and directed by a ‘patriarchal’ capitalism, and as unequally distributed and hence differently accessible [to women and minorities]" (Bryson & de Castell 256). Thus a circular pattern appears: games designed by white males come to reflect the interests, experiences, and biases of their designers, and are consumed primarily by white male audiences. The "others" not included in this pattern – women, same-sex desiring people, and people of marginalized races and ethnicities – often get misrepresented, stereotyped, or ignored in the medium. However, in recent years, several digital games have emerged that fulfill the representation and identification interests of traditionally "othered" audiences – The Sims being one such game. I argue that the reasoning behind such inclusions does not necessarily reflect a sudden change in cultural liberalism, but instead reflects a change in how traditionally marginalized people are marketed to in late capitalism. Gaming companies have been targeting non-traditional gamers since the mid-to-late nineties, when, according to Henry Jenkins, increased competition began to limit the profits any one company could earn from the core market of young white males: [The] game market had entered into an age of heightened competition at a time when, in fact, ninety percent of American boys were already playing computer games. To survive, these game companies understood that they would need to expand their market and thus, then as now, there were… [new] targets… (Jenkins, "Further Reflections") Given my hypothesis of a correlation between late-capitalist marketing and the representation of difference, I will begin my analysis by discussing how the setting of The Sims, the North American suburbs, is intimately linked to how difference is perceived in the game: the suburbs carry with them a set of constructed expectations and values that cannot be ignored when thinking about difference in the game. Suburbia was created for the middle and upper classes to escape from overcrowded urban centres, and from the increasingly impoverished, increasingly different people inhabiting them (Flanagan; Spigel 3, 16). I want to suggest that The Sims holds a contradictory relationship with its deeply coded setting, a relationship that is both progressive and regressive. While it does not necessarily conform to the cultural, familial, and gender role definitions associated with the postwar suburbs – people of colour are welcome, families don’t have to be nuclear, and women don’t have to be domestic caretakers – The Sims does conform to the suburban philosophy of sameness. The social, sexual, and ethnic differences included in the game do not define the characters involved. Despite the array of different kinds of people featured, everyone is standardized into one category of "normal." While standardization on the basis of social equality is not what I’m arguing against, I am instead weary about the mould for this standard, which is detectably aligned with the traditional patriarchal, heterosexual, and Caucasian-centred suburban space. This theory forms the base of my subsequent arguments. Since the debut of The Sims in early 2000, the bulk of the criticism surrounding it has stated that its players are "more often than not" female (Brooks 58). That women and girls are thought to make up the majority of players for this mainstream video game is significant given widespread assumptions that the medium is unappealing to females, and that the dominant demographic of players is made up of boys and young men. Indeed, it is regular to theorize video games as a part of "boy culture" (Jenkins, "Complete Freedom" 269-270). However, The Sims, more so than any other PC product right now, allows for the complication of gender norms. This is perhaps surprising since it manages to do so while still ascribing to historically gendered settings (the home, the commercial district) and activities (home decoration, caretaking) and in such a way that keeps any deviations from social normativity the option of the player, not a preprogrammed aspect of the game that must be addressed by all players. Similarly, the homosexual acts performed in The Sims do not define the identities of the preprogrammed characters - sexuality is an action, not an identity, at least not in the game elements offered by Electronic Arts. By not creating gay identities to choose from, EA avoids being accused of generalizing or essentializing perceived and perhaps stereotyped traits of people who identify as gay or lesbian (Consalvo 186). They avoid the sticky problems confronted by toy companies like Mattel, the makers of Barbie, when creating dolls or figurines meant to represent difference. Cultural critic Ann duCille explains how Mattel, facing criticism for not making their black Barbie dolls distinct from their classic blonde, white Barbies began producing dolls that reinforced and emphasized racially stereotyped physical features (558). The producers of The Sims seem to have side-stepped the issue. By putting the tools of identity creation into the hands of players, EA can still appeal to homosexual consumers, while not having to determine themselves what "gay" or "lesbian" looks like. But would this tactic work the same in a game with fixed characters and narrative? Is difference only depicted where it is profitable? Does the fact that The Sims is directly marketed to non-traditional audiences factor into its content? Of course, just the possibility of queer relationships in a high profile mainstream video game is a progressive step forward for our traditionally heterosexist culture – but one arguably taken only to welcome traditionally "othered" consumers into the culture of late capitalism. The same is true for ethnic and racial difference in the game. Beyond the shade of skin tone, there is no difference between any two Sims created; ethnic and cultural differences are not programmed aspects of the game. While this ensures that every Sim is given equal footing socially and there is no discrimination on the basis of skin colour (a positive thing, however unrealistic), there are no differentiations among people of different racial make up – meaning everyone conforms to the same cultural lifestyle – that of the middle class, Caucasian suburbanite. In this regard, The Sims assimilates ethnic difference into white American society. Being more melting pot than multicultural paradise, the preprogrammed world of The Sims denies ethnic players the particularities of their culture in the game: while it is possible to create and import a Musalla prayer rug into the game, players do not have the power to program or animate their conceived Muslim characters to use it. This elimination or impossibility of cultural difference has made the history of the characters playable in The Sims very much the history of the white American suburbanite. I conlcude by asking why there has been this sudden spike in social liberalism, at least on the surface, in such games as The Sims. I suggest that it could be, as Naomi Klein states, a kind of exploitation of diversity initiated by targeting untraditional markets to better tap into the consuming potential of millions of non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual people – what Stuart Hall sees as the commercial appropriation of difference (Hall 273). Klein argues that in the early nineties, corporate producers and marketers of pop culture embraced Generation X’s demand for more liberal diversity and positive representation of marginalized peoples, but did so not out of conversion of political belief, but because of the financial rewards involved (Klein 110-111). I believe this applies to the "identity and gaming" issue proposed for the conference.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

A Short and Simple Definition of What a Videogame Is

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

Introduction Why should we define the term videogame? Because we have reasons to study videogames. What are these reasons? James Newman gives us an answer: "the size of the videogames industry; the popularity of videogames; videogames as an example of human-computer interaction." Indeed, videogames belong to of our culture. But surprisingly, it is rare to come across concise definitions of the word videogame. Then, it is necessary to work on it. I am not claiming that nobody defined properly the notion of videogame before. For example, Eric Zimmerman has issued notable publications about it. I am mentioning that we need a short and simple definition. The goal of this essay is to propose such a definition. I also outline how to understand its terms by using existing definitions. And I finally discuss the videogame heritage and how it helps us to say what a videogame is. Definition Here is a possible definition: A videogame is a game which we play thanks to an audiovisual apparatus and that can be based on a story. This definition is short and simple, and I would like to demonstrate that it really defines the term videogame. I will show that this definition is based on well-known thoughts about game, play, interactivity, and narrative are. In other words, this definition is nothing but an articulation of existing definitions. The articulation is possible and easy because I do not directly speak about interactivity and narrative. Game Needless to say that a videogame is a game. It is obvious but we have to clearly remember this. Before being a cultural form, an art form, a narrative form, and more, videogames are games: "However, even if it sounds obvious, videogames are, before anything else, games." (Frasca). So, what is a game? We have had games for a very long time, but the definitions are not numerous. Nevertheless, some of them are applied to videogames with adeptness. Roger Caillois, inspired by Johan Huizinga, provides elements to define what a game is: a fictional, unpredictable, and unproductive activity with rules, with time and space limits, and without obligation. He also presents an approach for classifying games. He especially identifies two orientations. He calls it paida and ludus. We can understand it as freedom and constraints. Gonzalo Frasca says it "describes the difference between play and game." Effectively, some games without quantifiable outcome can be considered as toy-games (two famous examples: Sim City and The Sims). I use Zimmerman's words (quantifiable outcome), so it is time to discuss his definition of what is a game: "A game is a voluntary interactive activity, in which one or more players follow rules that constrain their behavior, enacting an artificial conflict that ends in a quantifiable outcome." This definition, which is not far from Avedon and Sutton-Smith's, is a very accurate definition of what a game is. Thus, it does not include toy-games and puzzle-games. Is there a quantifiable outcome in toy-games? Is there always an artificial conflict in puzzles-games? My answer is: a videogame can be a puzzle-game, a toy-game, or any kind of game that can be handled by an audiovisual apparatus. Chris Crawford calls this wide range of games interactive entertainments or playthings. Play To introduce what playing a videogame is, I will quote Zimmerman again: "Play is the free space of movement within a more rigid structure. Play exists both because of and also despite the more rigid structures of a system." Zimmerman also defines three categories: game play, ludic activities, being playful. Given these categories, the famous Huizinga definition is related to the first category: "Play is a voluntary activity or occupation executed within certain fixed limits of time and place, according to rules freely accepted but absolutely binding, having its aim in itself and accompanied by a feeling of tension, joy and the consciousness that it is 'different' from 'ordinary life'." We can also try to list the pleasures of playing. The Le Diberder brothers have their answer: competition, accomplishment, system mastering, narrative enjoyment, and audiovisual experience. Moreover, we can think of other aspects beyond system mastering and that game designers know very well: discovering hidden elements and cheating. Audiovisual Apparatus The audiovisual apparatus I am talking about is an electronic system with computing capabilities, input devices, and output devices. It can be an arcade videogame, a videogame console, a handheld console, a computer, a PDA, a phone, etc. It means that we have human-computer interactions and that videogames can be seen as user interfaces. Then, we can talk about interactivity. As Jasper Juul notices, this is a major difference between videogames and their "nonelectronic precursors": "The main difference between the computer game and its nonelectronic precursors is that computer games add automation and complexity - they can uphold and calculate game rules on their own, thereby allowing for richer game worlds; this also lets them keep pace." Interactivity is the heart of the Rouse definition of the term gameplay: "A game's gameplay is the degree and nature of the interactivity that the game includes." Story A videogame can be based on a story. In most cases, it is, but sometimes not. Tetris, for example, is an abstract challenge that does not need a story. They are many ways to insert narrative elements in a videogame: back-stories, cut-scenes, discussions, etc. Then, academics wonder if we can study and design videogames like literature and film. Some answers are very clear: "The first and most important thing to know about games is that they center on PLAY. Unlike literature and film, which center on STORY, in games, everything revolves around play and the player experience. Game designers are much less interested in telling a story than in creating a compelling framework for play." (Pearce). "The hidden structure behind these, and most, computer games is not narrative - or that silly and abused term, "interactivity" - but simulation. (Aarseth 2004) Hence, videogames are often seen as simulations: "Narrative is based on semiotic representation, while videogames also rely on simulation, understood as the modelling of a dynamic system through another system." (Frasca 2004). We know that a videogame can be based on a story. But is a videogame always a simulation? Answering is not easy when we consider abstract games like Qix and Tetris. But the answer, following Frasca, could be that these games are simulations of systems that their designers have imagined. It would mean that a videogame would always be a virtual game because we do not manipulate the game elements in the real world. Videogame Heritage By looking back to the past, as Chris Crawford does, we can see how the videogame heritage can help us to know what a videogame is. One way of doing that is to identify, as John Sellers does, milestones. For example, Ms. Pac-Man was the "first game to star a female character." This raises interesting questions about genre differences and videogames. We can also look at the history of videogames. Our starting point could be the first commercial game (Computer Space, 1971, the arcade version of Spacewar, 1962) and we could identify the four following periods: - 1971-1978: first years, pioneers' success, - 1979-1983: golden age, genre development, - 1984-1993: less technological limits, strong ideas, - 1994-now: CD-ROM, 3D, PlayStation, PC, big productions, normalization, online games. From the pioneers' success, we learn what an arcade videogame is (for example Pong). From the golden age, we learn how diversified the videogames can be (sports, adventure, fighting, etc.). From the years between 1984 and 1993, we learn that strong ideas make the difference. I have to give some details about what I call strong ideas. I will do it trough famous examples: new powerful ideas (Tetris), deep gameplays (Bubble Bobble, Shinobi), genre crossings (The Legend of Zelda), innovative narrative elements (fights in Battle Chess), complex system simulations (Sim City), multiplayer fun (Bomberman, Super Mario Kart), leading unintelligent animals (Lemmings), simple and strong ideas (Pang). Finally, from recent big productions, we learn about the future of videogames: bigger and bigger, more and more online, and less and less diversity. About this last point, the Le Diberder brothers say: "Wargames, games of skill, racing games, and even fighting games and shoot'em up games will be simple levels in simulators that will combine them." But small devices represent a great opportunity for retro gaming. Weak hardware needs strong ideas and old games contain strong ideas. Conclusion We have seen that I articulate existing definitions into one short and simple definition of the term videogame. We have also seen that this definition could easily be completed, for example with what the videogame heritage teaches us. And to conclude, I would like to add that knowing what is a videogame is obviously very useful to know what a good videogame is. A good videogame is a good game. We have a lot fun while playing a good videogame. We forget the audiovisual apparatus (transparency, immersion) while playing a good videogame to take advantage of a deep gameplay. And we enjoy the story of a good videogame based on a story. By going deeper in this direction, we get criteria for good games. Then, we can verify these criteria regarding the videogame heritage. * This abstract: about 1500 words * Full paper: 2835 words and about 30 references * Note: this work is part the Inspiration project (http://www.utc.fr/inspiration/)

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Affective Videogames and Modes of Affective Gaming: Assist Me, Challenge Me, Emote Me (ACE)

Date created: 
2005-04-16
Abstract: 

[Jill] I don’t know what happened. [Chris] Barry. Where’s Barry? So opens the mansion scene to Capcom’s survival-horror Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996) – and with it one of the gaming world’s first tentative steps toward realisation of the emotionally-immersive, narrative cinematic experience. In this paper we describe the fundamentals of affective gaming; covering their origins, how they operate, some examples, an-in-depth analysis of one of our early affective games (Gilleade & Allanson, 2002), their current capabilities and the ongoing research to develop them further. We also explore a new approach to game design based on three high-level design heuristics: assist me, challenge me and emote me (ACE), a series of gameplay "tweaks" made possible through affective videogames. We are emotionally-creatures. If affect is not conveyed properly during game play (e.g. if Resident Evil’s ability to inspire fear in the player was non-existent), the player’s suspension of disbelief can be negatively affected and the movie-inspired immersive experience is spoiled. Advances in computation and memory capabilities mean that videogames are more than capable of conveying affect just as well as traditional media (e.g. film, books). As a result games are becoming more reliant on the imagination of game designers for their affective material rather than the constraints of the currently available technology. But the interactive nature of the videogame allows us to go one step further than traditional media. Unlike the latter; videogames are dynamic entities, they change according to how the player interacts with them. At the moment, these interactions are based purely on the input the player consciously decides to use in the game world (i.e. actions executed through the game controller). However these actions are not the only thing going on with the player during play; there are also the mostly unseen physiological responses that go on within the player’s body. Such responses are useful in identifying the current emotional state the player is in. If this information could be somehow collected and invested in the game dynamics; the affective bandwidth of future games could be increased (i.e. bi-directional, game affects player, player affects game and so on) allowing for the emotive "tweaking" of conventional gaming experiences or the creation of whole new ones. There are two ways in which physiological responses have been used in gaming so far. The most obvious are biofeedback games (sometimes referred to as affective feedback) such as the Media Lab relax-to-win racing game (Bersak et al, 2001); where players consciously try to control their biological responses of which they are not normally consciously aware (e.g. heartbeat, skin response, blood pressure). Such games use biological sensors to influence game play, thus the player effectively controls the game via their control of their own internal bodily functions. A variant of this is the skin-response based videogame created by Future University-Hakodate (Sakurazawa et al, 2004) where onlookers attempt to influence the physiological state of the player (i.e. provoking flight or fight responses through loud noises such as clapping) which then affects the game play (i.e. makes its more difficult, the player would attempt to exert conscious control over their biological responses to avoid getting into further difficulty). The other use of physiological data is for truly affective gaming, a derivation of Affective Computing (Picard, 1997). These games use the player’s own physiology to assess their current emotional state; this information is then used to manipulate gameplay in some prescribed manner in order to create more engaging and / or immersive entertainment experiences. The player may not even be aware that their physiological state is being sensed, the intention is to capture their normal affective reactions. In previous work on affective games (Gilleade & Allanson); we used the player’s heart rate to control the difficulty of a conventional videogame. Whenever game play was deemed too boring or overly exciting (i.e. represented as a decrease or increase in heartbeat rate respectively) the videogame would alter play to reverse the player’s affective state to keep within an optimum range. In the full paper we will describe these two classes in more detail and also introduce a more complete classification and discussion of affective gaming. Based on this analysis of other affective games and our own experience of the design of affective games, we propose several high level design heuristics for affective gaming, which we will explore further in the paper: • Assist me: Games that; identify player frustrations to which the game offers assistance through the current gaming context. • Challenge me: Games that; identify the player’s state of enjoyment in relation to the current challenge being offered to which the game compensates for if the challenge is to be found lacking. • Emote me: Games that; identify player responses to intentional emotional provoking content to which the game manipulates subsequent related content in respect to the recorded response. References: ----------- Gilleade, K., Allanson, J. (2003). A Toolkit for Exploring Affective Interface Adaptation in Videogames. Proceeding of HCI International 2003, volume 2. LEA, New Jersey, pages 370-374. Bersak, D., McDarby, G., Augenblick, N., McDarby, P., McDonnell, D., McDonal, B., Karkun, R. Biofeedback using an Immersive Competitive Environment. Online Proceedings for the Designing Ubiquitous Computing Games Workshop, Ubicomp 2001. Sakurazawa, S., Yoshida, N., Munekata, N. (2004). Entertainment Feature of a Game Using Skin Conductance Response. Proceedings of ACE 2004, Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, ACM Press, pages 181-186. Picard, R. Affective Computing. MIT Press (1997).

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Interactive Story Writing in the Classroom: Using Computer Games

Date created: 
2005-05-30
Abstract: 

Computer games offer a new medium for creative writing – immersive stories where the "reader" is an active participant in the story. These stories are rich in visual and audio texture. Decisions made by the reader influence how the story unfolds (possibly even changing the outcome). In contrast to traditional pen-and-paper story writing, where the author is expected to specify everything textually, in interactive stories the "writer" uses computer tools to create visual representations of a virtual world. Vibrant colors and visual objects replace textual adjectives and vivid descriptions. Some commercial games, such as BioWare’s role-playing game Neverwinter Nights [1], provide a toolset that allows a story composer to "write" an interactive story. BioWare’s Aurora toolset has the capability to create story backdrops and scenery, and to populate the scenes with characters and supporting props. Their scripting language, NWScript, is used by the writer to specify plot components, character/prop behaviors, and their interactions. Scripting languages attempt to lessen the programming burden by presenting the user with a simplified specification language – but it is still too close to computer programming. Programming/writing interactive games with current tools is slow, cumbersome, and fraught with error. This paper discusses ScriptEase, a high-level tool for writing interactive stories that frees the author from doing explicit computer programming. To validate its ease of use for non-programmers, we describe the first time it has been used in the classroom (a Grade 10 English class). In this pilot, the students learned to use the Neverwinter Nights and ScriptEase toolsets to write interactive stories. ScriptEase By computer game standards, NWScript is a state-of-the-art scripting language, allowing the user the ability to create rich worlds and complex characters. However, the scripting language is difficult for non-programmers to learn. It closely resembles the C programming language, requiring the user to understand concepts such as functions, types, and data, as well as a large library of useful routines. This is a serious impediment to making the story creation capabilities accessible to a non-technical audience. ScriptEase is a scripting tool developed at the University of Alberta [2] that generates NWScript for Neverwinter Nights. The program provides menu-driven, textual interface that is used to specify the story. From the user specifications, the tool automatically generates the appropriate NWScript code to perform the desired actions. Writing stories in ScriptEase is accomplished using patterns. The user specifies a pattern and then customizes it to suit their needs. For example, a frequently occurring pattern in fantasy games is to open a chest and have something happen. The user selects this pattern and then sees a series of dialogue boxes that allow him/her to specify attributes for the chest. The storywriter can select a visual effect that occurs when the chest is opened and any other actions that are appropriate to the plot (a magical spell that is cast on the player’s character, a statue that animates, teleporting the player’s character to another location, etc.). A story is written by composing and customizing patterns to specify the plot, character and prop interactions, character behavior, and conversations. Classroom Pilot Working collaboratively with a high school English teacher and a high school student, a series of tutorials were created (for the tools Neverwinter Nights, Aurora, and ScriptEase) [3]. The high school teacher developed, and the high school student tested, an interactive story writing assignment targeted for High School English students. The interactive writing assignment was used as part of the curriculum in a Grade 10 English class, and administered over a two-week period in November 2004. It consisted of two components: 1. The students were taken on a field trip to the University of Alberta for the tutorials (because of the availability of computing equipment). At the end of the trip, students were ready to write their stories. 2. Three one-hour English classes were completed in the high school computer lab, allowing the students to work on their stories. Extra computer hours were made available for those who needed it. Twenty-one students completed the assignment. At the time of this writing, the assignments are currently being graded by the teacher. The conference presentation will discuss the insights gained from this classroom experience. This initial pilot has been tremendously valuable for giving feedback on the use of interactive storytelling in general, the computer tools in particular, and ways to improve the tutorials, the student computing environment, and the scope of the assignment. The initial experience was very positive for all parties. In particular, the teacher conducted a student survey after the assignment was completed and reported a very high level of satisfaction from the respondents. Future Work An experimental study using ScriptEase is planned in March/April using another English class as the target population. At the time of this writing, we are in the final stages of getting ethics approval to gather data on the students and their performance. Data will be used to identify any correlations between student abilities (e.g. problem solving skills) and background (e.g. computer experience), and how well they do on the assignment. Further, we hypothesize that some students who have difficulty expressing their creativity in words using traditional technologies may have no such limitations using interactive story writing technology. On the other hand, there may be other students who excel at traditional writing, but that do not have sufficiently developed logical thinking skills to design and create an interactive non-linear story. The development of interactive story writing technology is still in its early stages. Our work is intended to make this technology available to non-programmers, demonstrate its pedagogical value in the classroom, and work towards popularizing this medium as a new form of creative literature. References 1. BioWare Corp., http://www.bioware.com. 2. "ScriptEase: Generative Design Patterns for Computer Role-Playing Games", M. McNaughton, M. Cutumisu, D. Szafron, J. Schaeffer, J. Redford and D. Parker, Automated Software Engineering, 2004, pp. 88-99. 3. Tutorials and assignment available at http://www.cs.ualberta.ca/~script/scripteasenwn.html.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Architecting Scalability for Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming Experiences

Author: 
Date created: 
2005-04-18
Abstract: 

With this article we want to identify the main scalability issues for the development of Massive Multi-Player Online Games. There is no generic architecture to achieve scalability for every problem. We must understand the nature of the problem in order to reach system scalability. Massive Multi-Player Online Games (MMOG) are conceived with the objective of massive use by a potentially geographically dispersed population. In their design we are faced with scalability challenges which are specific to the interactive modalities and the socio-technical scenarios we intend to enable [Fitch 2001]. The emergence of the Internet made possible the development of interactive distributed systems that can be accessed by thousands of users in virtually any part of the world. The scalability issues introduced by such a massive use must be considered in the system design. By scalability we mean the system fit capacity according to his loading charge, for example, accommodates increasing interaction volume, without significant degradation of quality service. It is commonly known that scalability can’t be secured if we only pay attention to some system parts. To achieve scalability in any kind of distributed system we must design all the components to achieve this goal. For example, a system that has high scalability in the simulation and low communication scalability may result in a poor scalable system, globally. To see the scalability problems in a MMOG we must understand the system dynamics and structure and what’s bound for. Looking at the existent types of MMOG – massive multi-player online role playing games, virtual environments, massive multiplayer real time strategy, massive multiplayer online first-person shooter – we can try to generalize some features that allow us to analyze their scalability requisites. Normally, in this kind of games the action takes place in a virtual 3D environment, where thousands of players interact by controlling avatars, allowing real-time interaction between users in simulated virtual worlds. The action environment can be persistent in order to maintain the notion of space and time continuity [wikipedia 2004]. From an analysis of the characteristics of MMOG systems and their usage we can start to identify four main scalability issues: a) simulation capacity that allows for thousands of players to be online in the same virtual world; b) data storage capacity of all the information that is used to represent the virtual worlds and one efficient distribution method for guaranteeing availability when needed; c) reliable and efficient communications for experience coordination and smooth interaction; d) architectural integration enabling system expansibility through new computational, communication and storage resources. Next we will briefly discuss these issues. The simulation component role in MMOG is to process the events that are generated through the player’s interaction or by sub-systems that generate automatic environmental activities (e.g., atmospheric, AI bots). Besides the high event volume that must be processed, the simulation activity has other challenge: the size of the virtual universe data model. Virtual universe action area can have the size of a planet or even a galaxy, which becomes very complex to handle [Rosedale 2003]. As previously referred, the MMOG environments are commonly 3D and very dynamic, being impossible for the clients to keep the virtual world state. So, when a player enters the virtual world must be given to him all the information necessary to animate that world. This information has two different types: data model that represents abstractly the virtual world; and the necessary multimedia elements needed to visual and sonorous animation. Nature and volume size of multimedia information become the main problem of the distribution system [Yu-Shen 1997]. Communication scalability is one of the essential issues in simulated real-time games through Internet. Scalability must be understood not only by the capacity to support communication between a high numbers of players, but also, as the capacity to maintain a communication performance level that doesn’t put at risk the game experience quality. This fact in the MMOG systems is paradigmatic, since there are possible thousand of players interacting with the world objects and moving in the same space. Objects state and players activity must be informed to all players in order to maintain the game integrity/consistency [Smed 2001]. Structural scalability is important to increase the system live span. In order to achieve this requisite the system structure must be designed to enable the addition of new resources. Architectural scalability, through the specification of clear system components that interact in a clear dynamics, through defined protocols, is a pre-requisite for system repairing, actualization and evolution; and must also have the capacity to integrate significantly contribute to the later incorporation of new technologies and devices. At first glance, we would think that to achieve scalability in MMOG implementations we would simply have to work on an architectural design to satisfy all the requisites that have been presented. But that would not be enough. System scalability also emerges from the balance and harmony of the system components. When we are trying to satisfy some requisite, the ideal solution may be in conflict with some other requisite. For example, the best solution for the distribution of static content (such as 3D models, textures and sounds) can jeopardize communication scalability for more immediate real-time events, as their compete for the available bandwidth. The best solution may not be the optimal one for any system component, but the best overall solution for the integrated system, that guarantees an adequate level of quality to the interactive experience. In order to achieve such a balance we have to consider an adequate partitioning of responsibilities for the components and the internal and the external dynamics that are originated.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Games, Montage and the First Person Point of View

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

Games, Montage and the First Person Point of View By Michael Nitsche michael.nitsche@lcc.gatech.edu LCC – Georgia Tech Executive Abstract Montage of moving images is an effect present in games. To investigate this effect we look at the use of the first person point of view (POV) in montage elements controlled by the player. The focus of the analysis lies on montage that combines gameplay and visualization. The interactive control that generates a reference between player and player-character emerges as a condition for meaningful montage. A view to the value of classic film theory to this interactive condition concludes the paper. Montage and Games The visual fragmentation of the interactive playground through larger levels and 3D worlds introduced cinematic elements to games. Once games outgrew a single screen and perspective some form of selection of visible elements became necessary and framing, mise-en-scene and montage entered the video game world. Not surprisingly, a wide range of work addresses the question of camera control in real-time 3 dimensional virtual worlds [Drucker 1994; He/ Cohen/ Salesin 1996; Tomlinson/ Blumberg/ Nain 2000; Courty et.al. 2003], cross-referencing between games and movies [Manovich 2000; King/ Krzywinska 2002] and the use of cut-scenes [Klevjer 2002]. But apart from the very well covered work on interactive cinema (see e.g. Davenport’s group at MIT, Manovich in San Diego, the European SAGAs program) few have looked into the element of montage in real-time 3D worlds. Montage of a film image is understood as the technique and result of selecting, editing, and piecing together separate film clips into a linear sequence. In contrast to film video games pick from a limited pool of pre-defined and rule-driven viewpoints instead of a limited pool of prefabricated shots. As game action depends on the player’s interaction the resulting image is highly variable. This seems to conflict with any relevant theory of montage. Unpredictable combinations complicate the traditional category of montage as a result of the editing and as a distinct process of meaning generation. Following this logic, Manovich identifies an ‘anti-montage tendency in GUI’ [Manovich 2000, 143]. But, in practice, montage as a modus operandi stays present in games. The pictures are still edited and the resulting montage is not only functional – as Poole suggests [Poole 2000, 93] – but also representational. It not only serves the gameplay but also expresses meaning and style. To shape this expression, a game like Gretzky NHL 2005 (989 Sports for EA, TBP) can include 700 different camera positions. Notably the editing here is heavily geared towards the replay mode during which the action is already defined. The cameras show the event in a non-interactive but highly dramatized way that quotes live TV sport broadcasts. Interactive Montage and the First Person Point of View In contrast to the replay mode, interactive montage is tied to the variable gaming situation. Any cut during an interactive montage is triggered by the player in combination with a game feature – not as mere visual effect. The resulting montage cannot be traced any traditional style. Interactive montage operates only within the gaming situation and is a defining element of the play as the cut becomes part of the interaction that shapes the event. While the literature on montage in games is still very thin – the work on element of montage as triggered by the player during the gameplay has not been developed at all (e.g. missing in [Salen/ Zimmerman 2003]). Yet it is in this form of interactive montage where the strengths of the game and the expressive feature of cinema depend on each other. Instead of the much-discussed conflict between the two media the interactive montage offers a shared field where gameplay and cinematic language are closely intertwined and interdependent. Thus, any ‘annihilation’ [Eskelinen 2001] of a discussion of these cinematic features would be misleading – any approach based too closely on film theory [Wolf 2001] would lack the game specifics at work. To avoid such asymmetric concentration on either medium two restrictions apply in this paper’s discussion: 1) The editing has to be integral part of the functional gameplay and connected to an interactive option. Any cut has to be clearly motivated by the underlying game system and initiated by the player. 2) In order to allow for comparison between different games and the development of a general montage form the paper concentrates on cuts either to or from a first person POV – a camera perspective once proclaimed the only feasible one in VR from [Laurel 1986] to [Manovich 2000]. Such a restriction narrows the range of games but provides the necessary frame for in-depth analysis. The reference between the player and the main player-character is at the center of the investigation. Established through interactive access to the virtual character’s behavior and cinematic means that present the character to the player while rooting it inside the virtual world, this reference becomes the joint around which the interactive montage of the first person POV develops. How applicable are classic film theories to this condition? Instead of the assembly of different visual attractors (Eisenstein) the player-character position is the reference for the cut’s efficiency and is re-instated. Such a character-centered approach still allows for combination of seemingly opposing attractors. Instead of a guidance of the audience through the camera (Pudovkin) the camera has to be guided by the player. What we can identify in the interactive montage of first person POVs are elements of Bazin’s realist cinema [Bazin 1967]. Especially his demand for long takes, eye-level camera perspectives and unobstrusive cutting are part of many cuts to and fro first person POVs. Such a reference makes sense in the light of the new "reality" that the game generates in its event generation. Thus, players realizing the event and its visualization might retrace Bazin’s ideals not only in the gaming situation but also in the cinematic presentation and montage of it. While this approach might provide one source for the underlying theory the practical analysis of various montage elements has to be an ongoing process of which this paper is part. References - Bazin, André, What is Cinema? (Berkeley/ Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967) - Courty, Nicolas/ Lmarache, Fabrice/ Donikian, Stéphane/ Marchand, Éric, ‘A Cinematography System for Virtual Storytelling’, in: Virtual Storytelling. ICVS ’03 (ed. by Olivier Balet/ Gérard Subsol/ Patrice Torguet) (Berlin et al: Springer, 2003), 30-37 - Drucker, Steven M., Intelligent Camera Control for Graphical Environments (Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994) - Eskelinen, Markku, ‘The Gaming Situation’, in: Games Studies, vol. 1, 1 (July 2001) at: http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/eskelinen/ - He, Li –Wei/ Cohen, Michael F. and Salesin, David H., "The Virtual Cinematographer: A Paradigm for Automatic Real-Time Camera Control and Directing"

Document type: 
Conference presentation

Players as Authors: Conjecturing Online Game Creation Modalities and Infrastructure

Date created: 
2005-04-18
Abstract: 

This paper will outline a movement beyond the apparent creative stagnation in the videogames industry through a possible transformation that proposes to mobilize the players to the creative process, by enabling them to assume creative roles in online games, thus becoming authors. This paper will analyze the meaning of a "player as author" metaphor with a discussion of what is the potential and challenges in mobilizing players as authors and how to stimulate this transition of roles. But is this a real transition? Isn't the act of playing already a creative one? We will attempt to shed some light into this and identify new professional roles that may emerge from this mindset. We will also analyze the requirements needed to develop an infrastructure to support these new player/creator roles. By using a MMORPG as the ideal game genre to prototype such an infrastructure, a virtual world is idealized in which the players socialize and experience the needs of such a worldview, and attempt creative acts to satisfy those needs. In such an environment we expect to foster the emergence of collaborative playwork as the world will become populated with player's designs. The basis for developing content will be new game arenas where, with the right tools avaliable, new game concepts will possibly emerge. A scripting language is outlined to enable players to create new programmable content, allowing players to define objects, structurally and behaviorally, and combine them to synthesize new game experiences. The effects of enabling online or play-time edition on game scenarios, objects and characters must still be studied for a better comprehension of the socio-technical tradeoffs as the technologies required for such collaborative setups are complex and may become computationally expensive, and as such will limit scalability for a minimum quality of experience. To enable such a setup, characterizing the scope and range of actions for the definition of games is a most important aspect. If we want new interactive experiences to go beyond character or object personalization, for new game concepts to emerge the player-author needs to be given control over the rules and parameters that functionally define a game. Aesthetically, being able to influence the presentation layer of the game design is also a requisite for creative work. Two illustrative examples are discussed: rules definition and camera control. The rules can be defined in two ways: through the definition of object behaviors and through the definition of general game rules. A defining part of the experience of games and their design is how to promote goal setting. A goal can be preset by the game author when she's creating the game setting; or it can be negotiated by the players through socializing within the game (e.g., a wealthy character may want some valuable information from another player which would refuse to trade it and, to get it, hires another player in the role of a "spy", a group of players forge an alliance within a game to achieve an agreed set of goals); Goals can also be influenced dynamically through the affordances and constraints provided by the possible interactions with and between the objects that appear in the game, or by the players that participate in the experience. A design decision that could be passed to the player-author is camera control over specific events of intervals. By controlling the camera, the author will become a kind of director and the resulting experience may be considered a movie, at least in the machinima category. A number of decisions should be made about how and when the player controls a camera. But the control of the camera shouldn't be made saying "The camera should be in a position (x,y) and pointing in a θ angle", instead, a more sociable way of doing this would be "The camera is in a determined object and when the player passes by the object the camera does a close-up on it". Further research will be needed to study what options could be made and in what way, and their technical, aesthetic and social implications. The definition of a flexible supporting data model is of crucial importance because of it influences the range of new content that can be created. If the data model is too concrete it may artificially bound the creative space to specific genre or interpretation. On the other hand, an abstract data model can be hard to understand. All editing can be made available through a scripting language, which allows experts to create virtually everything they wish. But novice users should also be empowered to create. Possible ways to ease the creation process and the use of metaphors in the design of the interaction will be discussed in this paper. For such possibilities to be effectively mobilized by players, first they must be experienced and learned. A progressive route from novice to expert usage should be provided not to loose author candidates, which brings us to one more fundamental requirement in the design of the infrastructure: its usability and evaluation. These possibilities and their influence on interface design will be discussed.

Document type: 
Conference presentation

The Pervasive Interface; Tracing the Magic Circle

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

Walking the Line: The Interface in Limbo Investigating the Interface in Pervasive Games Eva Nieuwdorp, graduate student Utrecht University ** Changing Views: Worlds in Play ** June 16-20, 2005 Vancouver BC, Canada Paper proposal Categories Theoretical Perspectives: Redefining the concept of the interface in formal digital game theory; by researching the existing discourse surrounding interface theory, the applicability of this term to the area of digital games will be tested by looking at the status of the interface in pervasive gaming. Identity in Gaming: The identity of the pervasive game itself, existing both on, and because of, the thin boundary between fantasy and reality, play and game, as constructed both in the physical world and in the imagination of the player. Keywords: pervasive games, ubiquitous computing, exploration, fantasy, reality, interfaces, borders, human/computer interaction, player/game interaction. Abstract Pervasive games are steadily emerging as a new genre in the field of digital games. Unlike other games, the mobile nature of the pervasive game is unique in its ambivalent wavering between fantasy and reality when played. In this research, I will argue that it is exactly this ambivalence that is at the core of the player experience and indeed the construction of the game world itself. Set against the backdrop of the physical reality of everyday life, the thin line between the evident árealá world and the institutionalised fantasy of the game becomes the crux to which the pervasive game owes its existence; the pervasive game can therefore be viewed as a quintessentially and structurally interdisciplinary concept, interweaving the concept of reality with that of fantasy and transforming our everyday environment into a world in play. This situation on the one hand complicates the notions of reality and fantasy (fantasy referring to the game), while on the other hand within the game world the terms áludusá and ápaideaá are set off against one another. But what exists at the crossroads of these intermingling phenomena? What are the instances that incite the merging of fantasy and reality, and how can we best define this merge? In this paper, I will investigate these questions by looking at the applicability of the term áinterfaceá to the problematic co-existence of said antagonistic forces in the pervasive game. When investigating the nature of this type of play, one irrevocably must seek out the borders between the different elements of fantasy and reality, which leads us to the interface. Applied to digital games, the interface is invariably equalled to either the hardware (i.e. controllers and the like) or the software (i.e. visual elements of the game world) that gives rise to human/computer interaction. The screen captures both of these, as it is both a part of the hardware while visually representing the (3D) game world at the same time through software, functioning as a veritable Albertiás window through which the user can step from physical reality into the virtual universe of the game. The screen is viewed as a translucent membrane, an intermediary, which translates digital signs into actual player experience and parallels the player’s physical actions to manipulation in the digital realm. But is this notion of the interface in digital games satisfactorily covering all game genres? The example of the pervasive game, where little hardware and software is present, but which is inherently digital in its structure, challenges the current concept of the interface. Both from the perspective of the game, which is ambivalent in its player/game interaction and reality/game status, and from the perspective of the interface, which seems to be absent in the pervasive game, it is interesting to see how these two terms can be defined in relation to one another. By asking the question where and how the interface comes into being in the pervasive game (if it is in fact an apt term at all in this case), I will investigate the limbo between reality and game, as well as ludus and paidea in the pervasive game genre. The part of the player forms an important part of this paper, as he/she is in effect the crudest example of an interface in this type of play. After all, the player is of primary importance to the existence of the pervasive game: without him/her the streets will inevitably return to their everyday status. I will therefore argue that in part the interface I am trying to define can be located in the thoughts and imagination of the player. However, it must be noted here that player experience as such will not be addressed in this paper. This paper is an addition to the discourse surrounding interface theory and HCI. A buzzword by nature, the term áinterfaceá needs to be investigated and redefined in order to remain academically valid; at the same time the pervasive game, being part of recent developments in game culture, through careful analysis needs to be given a place in the discourse of digital games. In order to gain an insight in the player/game interaction and the relation between reality and game, I will therefore argue that a theoretical perspective is needed as a basis for further research into both interface theory and pervasive games. By approaching the interface through formal game theory, I will investigate the place and status of the interface in the pervasive game, as well as the different factors the intermediation consists of, in search of defining the interaction between fantasy and reality in pervasive gaming as a result from playing in a realistic environment.

Document type: 
Conference presentation