Three Dimensions of Video Games

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While not a new technology, advances in stereoscopic video displays have attempted to make more translucent the divide between video games and their players. Modern video game systems now support native 3D display technology, as do many modern televisions. Indeed, the promise of 3D appears to be in line with the implicit promise of the video game: to allow the user a virtual space to escape, control, and challenge skills in an immersive fantasy environment. Assuming a complementarity between the goals of 3D displays and video games, we might assume 3D games by proxy to be more enjoyable and desired. Yet, one might also argue that the inclusion of a third dimension of attention may be a particularly taxing situation, especially for a video gamer already attending to the processing of complex narrative and control structures in many video games. Research has shown a curvilinear relationship between the cognitive load of a video game’s interface and both performance at and enjoyment of the game, and it remains open to empirical question whether the added cognitive load required to process a 3D environment would be beneficial or detrimental to performance and enjoyment when compared to a similarly-situated 2D environment. Moreover, as 3D games are designed with aesthetics as well as gameplay mechanics in mind, we wonder if audiences might enjoy the presentation as much as, if not more than, the players themselves – audiences not having to make the same cognitive resource commitment to gameplay as users. The current paper delineates arguments suggesting both positive and negative influences of 3D and proposes a series of experimental designs aimed at further understanding the relationship between agency, demand, and perspective on performance at, presence in and enjoyment of video games.

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  • Abstract: While not a new technology, advances in stereoscopic video displays have attempted to make more translucent the divide between video games and their players. Modern video game systems now support native 3D display technology, as do many modern televisions. Indeed, the promise of 3D appears to be in line with the implicit promise of the video game: to allow the user a virtual space to escape, control, and challenge skills in an immersive fantasy environment. Assuming a complementarity between the goals of 3D displays and video games, we might assume 3D games by proxy to be more enjoyable and desired. Yet, one might also argue that the inclusion of a third dimension of attention may be a particularly taxing situation, especially for a video gamer already attending to the processing of complex narrative and control structures in many video games. Research has shown a curvilinear relationship between the cognitive load of a video game’s interface and both performance at and enjoyment of the game, and it remains open to empirical question whether the added cognitive load required to process a 3D environment would be beneficial or detrimental to performance and enjoyment when compared to a similarly-situated 2D environment. Moreover, as 3D games are designed with aesthetics as well as gameplay mechanics in mind, we wonder if audiences might enjoy the presentation as much as, if not more than, the players themselves – audiences not having to make the same cognitive resource commitment to gameplay as users. The current paper delineates arguments suggesting both positive and negative influences of 3D and proposes a series of experimental designs aimed at further understanding the relationship between agency, demand, and perspective on performance at, presence in and enjoyment of video games.
  • Looking at video game development, we might be able to break it into the (a) 90s focus on graphics, (b) the 00s focus on processor speed, and now (c) a focus on the user experience on “the other side of the screen.” Many game technologies have worked to bring the user closer to the virtual experience by working to remove the fourth wall dividing the virtual from the actual.
  • So, we remove the fourth wall, and players don’t seem to like it very much! In fact, some major industry players such as EA have already begun to phase out 3D games – using the classic ‘paper glasses’ as a sardonic indicator of a long-dead technology.
  • In short, we suggest that 3D perspectives might be damaging the video game experience because they are detrimental to performance (learning to cope with a new interface) and presence (introducing mechanics associated with the Uncanny Valley), and these effects are perhaps magnified by a general increase in task demand – simply, 3D environments are more demanding of the user’s mental (and physical?) resources!
  • Three Dimensions of Video Games

    1. 1. THREE DIMENSIONS OF VIDEO GAMES:THE INFLUENCE AGENCY, DEMAND,AND PERSPECTIVE ON PERFORMANCEAT, PRESENCE IN, AND ENJOYMENT OFVIDEO GAMES – A PROSPECTUSNicholas David Bowman, Ph.D.Gregory Cranmer, M.A.
    2. 2. WHAT?• Lots of research on gaming, but let’s put (some of) it together to explain the phenomenology• For us, the phenomenon is fun
    3. 3. TECHNOLOGY PROGRESS• The history of gaming has been tied to advances in tech – Bit Wars – Processor Wars – Engagement Wars?
    4. 4. TECHNOLOGY PROGRESS• Does progress always mean better? – Jöckel & Bowman (2012) say no • Usability > Graphics  Enjoyment – Bowman & Tamborini (2012) say ‘meh’ • Game selection was curvilinear with task demand, effects on enjoyment less clear – Industry evidence suggesting 3D gaming is dying • One claim is that is too demanding, disorienting
    5. 5. RESEARCH MODEL Performance - + - + R2 ~ 1.00User Perspective + Task Demand User Agency Enjoyment0 = 2D; 1 = 3D 0 = Yes, 1 = No - + - + Presence -
    6. 6. CAUSES
    7. 7. TASK DEMAND• We can look at the workload of a given interface – Bowman and Tamborini (2012) found TLX to predict selective exposure following mood manipulations – Link to enjoyment less clear
    8. 8. USER PERSPECTIVE• Assumption is that “forced perspective” drives presence, driving up enjoyment• Lots of (anecdotal?) evidence suggesting forced perspective to be detrimental to fun (demanding?)
    9. 9. USER AGENCY• Game are more fun when played not watched… – Pleasure of control – Pleasure of presence• But, watching can be fun also; especially rich visuals
    10. 10. EFFECTS
    11. 11. PERFORMANCE• Bowman et al. (in press) find (shockingly) that + performance = + enjoyment• How might TLX interfere with performance? Badly.
    12. 12. PRESENCE• The sense of “being there” in the virtual environment is though to help boost enjoyment…• …but we can also be disturbed by the environment?
    13. 13. ENJOYMENT• Enjoyment (hedonic) can be met by: – Control of the game – Performance at the game – Feeling present in the gameSo, why aren’t 3D games doing well?
    14. 14. RESEARCH MODEL (AGAIN) NOTE: Time spent playing might solve all of this! Performance - + - + R2 ~ 1.00User Perspective + Task Demand User Agency Enjoyment0 = 2D; 1 = 3D 0 = Yes, 1 = No - + - + Presence -
    15. 15. FOR MORE INFORMATIONPLEASE CONTACT:Nicholas David Bowman, Ph.D.Nicholas.Bowman@mail.wvu.eduonmediatheory.blogspot.com@bowmanspartan

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