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Key Concepts of Game Studies

Key Concepts of Game Studies

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Key Concepts of Game Studies

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  1. Key Concepts of Game Studies Prof. Q

  2. Before we start… • Take out your smartphone / tablet and download a free game from the marketplace, or use your laptop to go to Newgrounds or another free flash games site.

  3. Topics • Game Mechanics • Narrative (briefly) • Ludos vs. Narrative • Interactivity • Immersion

  4. Game Mechanics – Definitions • “Something that connects players' actions with the purpose of the game and its main challenges.” – Gamers Survey • Rule based system/simulations that facilitate and encourage a user to explore and learn the properties of their possibility space through the use of feedback mechanisms” – Cook • “Mechanics describes the particular components of the game, at the level of data representations and algorithms (…) mechanics are the various actions, behaviors, and control mechanisms afforded to the player within a game context” – Le Cart • “A particular set of rules available to the player in the form of prescribed causal relations between game elements and their consequence to particular game states" - Javiren • “Game mechanics are methods invoked by agents for interacting with the game world. They are methods invoked by agents, designed for interaction with the game state.” – Miguel Sicart

  5. Gamification Mechanics From Gamification.Org •

  6. Gamification on Mechanics • Achievements are a virtual or physical representation of having accomplished something. • Appointment Dynamics are game dynamics in which at a predetermined times/place a user must log-in or participate in game, for positive effect. • Behavioral Momentum is the tendency of players to keep doing what they have been doing. • Blissful Productivity - The idea that playing in a game makes you happier working hard, than you would be relaxing. • Bonuses are a reward after having completed a series of challenges or core functions. • Cascading Information Theory - The theory that information should be released in the minimum possible snippets to gain the appropriate level of understanding at each point.

  7. Gamification on Mechanics II • Combos are used often in games to reward skill through doing a combination of things. • Community Collaboration - The game dynamic wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a riddle, a problem or a challenge. • Countdown - The dynamic in which players are only given a certain amount of time to do something. • Also called Exploration, players love to discover something, to be surprised. This also can be seen in the Game Feature, Discovery. • Epic Meaning - Players will be highly motivated if they believe they are working to achieve something great, something awe-inspiring, something bigger than themselves. • Free Lunch - A dynamic in which a player feels that they are getting something for free due to someone else having done work

  8. Gamification on Mechanics III • Infinite Gameplay- Games that do not have an explicit end. • Levels are a system, or "ramp", by which players are rewarded an increasing value for a cumulation of points. • Loss Aversion - people's tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. • Lottery - A game dynamic in which the winner is determined solely by chance. • Ownership is a powerful Game Dynamic that creates Loyalty. • Points are a running numerical value given for any single action or combination of actions.

  9. Gamification on Mechanics IV • Progression - A dynamic in which success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks. • Quests - Also known as Challenges. Challenges usually implies a time limit or competition whereas Quests are meant to be a journey of obstacles. • Reward Schedules - The timeframe and delivery mechanisms through which rewards (points, prizes, level ups) are delivered. • Status - The rank or level of a player. Players are often motivated by trying to reach a higher level or status. • Urgent Optimism - Extreme self motivation. The desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success. • Virality - A game element that requires multiple people to play (or that can be played better with multiple people).

  10. What do people agree on regarding Game Mechanics? In Short… • Game mechanics are the systems of rules which govern player interaction with the game world, and the interaction between the player and the game world. • Schell identifies the following elements: • Game rules • Challenges • Game restrictions • Game spaces • Game objects • Attributes • User experience

  11. Describing Game Mechanics • Play • Think about gameplay • Separate the different tasks • Each task represents a different mechanic • Navigation • Running • Jumping • Swimming • Exploration • Collection

  12. Play your game • Think about and describe the mechanics.

  13. Which of these does your game use? • Achievements • Appointment Dynamics • Behavioral Momentum • Blissful Productivity • Bonuses • Cascading Information Theory • Combos • Community • Countdown • Discovery • Epic Meaning • Free Lunch • Infinite Levels • Gameplay • Loss Aversion • Lottery • Ownership • Points • Progression • Quests • Reward Schedule • Status • Urgent Optimism • Virality

  14. Some quick questions • Can a timer be a game mechanic? • Can a combo counter be a mechanic? • Can player emotion be a game mechanic? • Can behavior be a game mechanic?

  15. Can narrative be a mechanic?

  16. Narrative - Definitions • "Performance of an account of events real or imagined.“ – Travis • “A sequence of preplanned and connected events that have been laid out by a designer. The sequence can be branching and be told out of order, but it remains a narrative as long as the events have been purposely placed and in some way connect to one another.” – Fractional Games

  17. Mechanics of Play vs. Narrative • “Gameplay will never smoothly be part of a narrative and there is an inherent conflict between the two.” – Jonathan Blow • “Gameplay wants to give the player a challenge and sets up goals that needs to be overcome. A narrative wants to move things forward and is often highly dependent upon time and space. Simplified, one can say that gameplay tells players to stay where they are and experiment, narrative presses the player onwards and wants them to obey commands.” – Blow • … and Juul • … and Aarseth

  18. Narrativists on narrative • “They mean the game as an involving experience that immerses, inspires, enchants and artistically resonates with the player. They don’t necessarily mean plot or the normal conventions of drama, but rather use a holistic understanding of the idea of narrative itself.” – Whatgamesare • The game world • The scripted events • Player interaction • Player emotions • Achivements • Etc.

  19. However… • This does not mean that games cannot have stories. Instead it means that we need to rethink how stories are told. – Cotskyan, Gee, Jenkins, etc.

  20. Game mechanics as narrative? • The more ordinary understanding of ‘narrative’, and the one that RaphKoster uses in his article, is content that exists as a part of the fantastical layer of the game, enhancing and informing the mechanical aspects. It has a function, which is to move the game along from task to task, but is less vital to the playing experience than the actual play.

  21. Can mechanics tell a story? Or do they just make a point?

  22. Questions on narrative • Can narrative be a game mechanic? • Can game mechanics be used to tell a story? What about to craft a narrative?

  23. interactivity • “The codified rendering of responsive behaviors” – Murray • “A technology is interactive to the degree that it reflects the consequences of our actions or decisions back to us” – Rokeby • A kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. • Casual examples of interaction outside of science include: • Communication of any sort, for example two or more people talking to each other, or communication among groups, organizations, nations or states: trade, migration, foreign relations, transportation, • The feedback during the operation of machines such as a computer or tool, for example the interaction between a driver and the position of his or her car on the road: by steering the driver influences this position, by observation this information returns to the driver. • Levels of Interactivity • Noninteractive – There is no feedback • Reactive – there is feedback related to a single message • Interactive – There is feedback related to multiple messages

  24. Interactivity in games

  25. About interactivity… • The concept of interactivity can be applied to modes of communication and behaviors as well as to forms of media. With this in mind: • What form of media can be considered interactive?

  26. Immersion • The state of consciousness where a visitor’s awareness of physical self is transformed by being surrounded in an engrossing environment; often artificial, creating a perception of Presence in a non-physical world. • The term is widely used for describing partial or complete suspension of disbelief enabling action or reaction to stimulations encountered in a virtual or artistic environment. • The degree to which the virtual or artistic environment faithfully reproduces reality determines the degree of suspension of disbelief. • The greater the suspension of disbelief, the greater the degree of Presence achieved.

  27. Types of Immersion • Tactical immersion • Tactical immersion is experienced when performing tactile operations that involve skill. • Strategic immersion • Strategic immersion is more cerebral, and is associated with mental challenge. • Narrative immersion • Narrative immersion occurs when players become invested in a story, and is similar to what is experienced while reading a book or watching a movie. • Spatial immersion • Spatial immersion occurs when a player feels the simulated world is perceptually convincing. The player feels that he or she is really "there" and that a simulated world looks and feels "real". • Full Immersion • When all the previous levels of immersion have been achieved.

  28. Immersion, Narrative, or Game? •

  29. Questions or comments?