The academic homestead of Annika Waern

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

The design space of body games

This year’s proceedings from CHI (the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computer systems) have now made it into the ACM digital library. Elena Marquéz Segura, Jin Moen, myself and Lina Johansson had a full paper together this year. It is called “The design space of body games: Technological, physical and social design” and tells the story of how we designed games with and around the “body bug”, a nicely designed playtool with very small capabilities for interaction.

I am rather satisfied with this paper. At its core, the paper is about how pervasive game design involves designing much more than just a game engine and an interface. In that sense, it is similar to the ‘360 illusion‘ paper from 2009. But where that paper dealt with fiction-heavy and large-scale games (and seems to be read as a paper about larp), this time we apply the same principle to a much simpler and restricted range of games which we call ‘Body games’. These are games that are played by moving and take their main enjoyment from body movement. By restricting the domain this way and by looking at a really restricted playtool, we are able to be much more precise in what the design goals are and how we can bring in physiological and social aspects into the game design.

This paper is to a large extent Elena’s achievement. Most of the work in this paper was  Elena’s master thesis project; and it is now also part of her Ph.D. work. Without her energy, enthusiasm and fantasy I doubt that this project would have gotten far.

A bachelor thesis on Shadow Cities

Last fall, I supervised this bachelor thesis by Linnéa Nordlund and Alex Sjöberg Larsson. Their job was to investigate how players of a fairly hardcore pervasive game, Shadow Cities, felt about the fact that the game uses a freemium model of payment. Linnéa and Alex played the game, scrutinized forum discussions, and performed a small survey.

Their results are rather surprising. In the forum discussions, players either complain about the in-game purchases as they provide play advantages, or downplay their importance in the game. But in the (anonymous) survey, players agree that the in-game purchases provide play advantages and, at the same time, like to use them. There seems to be a difference between the public discourse around the game, and how players actually use the function and play the game.

Linnéa and Alex also made some attempts to find out which players are most positive towards in-game purchases. As they wanted a short survey, they did some shortcuts here and the player classification method they used did not fully work out. Still, they found that players that classified themselves as hard-core players were more accepting towards in-game purchases, something that again contradicts the usual perception of the hard-core player as someone who wants to win by skill alone.

I find their results intriguing and plausible, and it is also a very well written bachelor thesis. Hence, I have asked Linnéa and Alex if I can make it available here. Due to the small size of the survey it has no chance of getting accepted into an academic venue, and my hope is that there might be a scholar out there who’d like to take this work further.

And thanks to you, Alex and Linnéa! You were awesome students!


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