Modes of Play: A Frame Analytic Account of Video Gaming


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Modes of Play: A Frame Analytic Account of Video Gaming

  1. 1. modes of play a frame analytic account of video gaming Sebastian Deterding Graduate School of Media and Communication, Hamburg University Hamburg, August 14, 2013 c b
  2. 2. 1 Research problem 3 Method 2 Theory 4 Empirical results 5 Outlook 2
  3. 3. 3 Method 2 Theory 4 Empirical results 5 Outlook 3 1 Research problem
  4. 4. the trouble with formalist game studies 4
  5. 5. Game: an object with formal features 5 what it sees
  6. 6. Gaming: a mode of engagement 6 what it misses (or takes for granted)
  7. 7. why does this matter?
  8. 8. Convergence: one use,many objects 8
  9. 9. jumping cracks on walkways six degrees of wikipedia 9 informal games: one use,many objects
  10. 10. Convergence: one object,many uses Gaming game Reading book Sending e-mail Movie watching Music listening 10
  11. 11. Internet Browsing Video editing multimedia display Virtual world »Home« Text, audio, video chat Online TV/DVD streaming Media store (film, music, TV) CD, MP3, DVD, BluRay player ... Convergence: one object,many uses
  12. 12. debugging playtesting/reviewing making a machinima testing screen resolution a scientific study learning (serious games) sports (e-sports) work (goldfarming) instrumental play: game uses ... 12 Taylor 2006, Nardi 2009, Sicart 2011
  13. 13. that lack typical »game« features (negotiable consequence …) 13
  14. 14. And trouble the notion of a »magic circle« 14
  15. 15. Jesper Juul »The magic circle is the boundary that players negotiate. (…) Game scholarship should be about analyzing the conventions of this boundary, and how and when this boundary is created and negotiated.« the magic circle and the puzzle piece (2008: 62) 15
  16. 16. frame analysis evoked as a solution 16
  17. 17. frame analysis: an answer to game convergence? • Convergence & instrumental play destabilise games as objects, widen gap between objects and uses • Formalist conceptions of games don’t account for fluid configurations & situated usagee.g. Salen & Zimmermann 2004, Juul 2005 • Researchers suggest micro-sociological accounts in responseMalaby 2007, Nardi 2009, Juul 2008 • Most prominent suggestion by far has been frame analysis (FA)Juul 2008, Deterding 2009, Glas et al. 2011 17
  18. 18. Develop a systematic frame analytic account of video gaming (to determine whether it answers to the conceptual challenges of convergence and instrumental play) research goal 18
  19. 19. state of research 1. FA is only pointed at, frequently misconstrued e.g. Fine 1983, Copier 2007, Pargman & Jakobsson 2008, Consalvo 2009, Stenros 2010, Waern 2012 2. FA is critiqued as structuralist, ignoring process and subjectivity e.g. Denzin & Keller 1981, Collins 1988, Warfield Rawls 2003, Stenros 2010 3. FA is critiqued as subjectivist, ignoring structure materiality (sic) e.g. Giddens 1988, Fine 1991, Copier 2007, Crawford 2012 4. Existing empirical research on processes of framing, but not the conventionse.g. Linderoth 2004, Aarsand 2007 5. Little empirical research on instrumental play 19
  20. 20. research objectives 1. Construct a systematic FA of video gaming 2. Explicate its processuality 3. Explicate the role of materiality 4. Describe frame conventions of video gaming 5. Describe specifics of instrumental gaming theoreticalempirical 20
  21. 21. 1 Research problem 3 Method 4 Empirical results 5 Outlook 21 Theory 2
  22. 22. »I assume that when individuals attend to any current situation, they face the question: ‘What is it that’s going on here?’« Erving Goffman frame analysis (1986: 8) 22
  23. 23. A frame is »the definition of a situation«: »principles of organization which govern events ... and our subjective involvement in them.« Erving Goffman frame analysis (1986: 8, 10-11) 23
  24. 24. RO1: Basic tenets of frame analysis • Frames are socially shared and reproduced »organising principles« for types of situations • They organise both covert experience and overt behaviour and matter • They do so materially (how X is), epistemically (how people perceive, conceive, identify, expect X), and normatively (how people demand X ought to be) 24
  25. 25. RO1: aspects organised by frames • Motivational relevancies • Rules for action and communication • Attentive access, focus, involvement • Emotion (display) • Objects, settings, events • Actors and their footing • Internal organisation of the situation • Metacommunication and transformation rules • Frame limits and gearing into the world 25
  26. 26. ro1: definitions • Frame: The total mesh of actors (including their dispositions and attitudes), objects, settings, actions, communications and events (and their features) that reproduces-and-changes their perceivably similar co-occurrence as types of situations across space and time • Framing: The situational process of a set of actors, objects, settings, actions, communications, events self-organising as a recognisable type of situation • Frame perception: An actor’s perception of the current framing of a situation • Frame understanding: An actor’s reflexive apprehension of a frame perception • Frame experience: An actor’s phenomenal experience of the former two • Frame configurations: The features of situationally arranged objects and settings that align with a frame • Frame dispositions: Embodied properties enabling an actor to perceive, identify, enact a specific frame 26
  27. 27. ro2: the processuality of frames • Integrated ethnomethodology & practice theory to account for situational constitutionGarfinkel 1967, 2002, Mondada 2011, Warfield Rawls 2003, Schatzki 2002 • Integrated structuration theory to account for long- term social institutionalisation & changeGiddens 1984 • Integrated technical frames to account for role of technology in institutionalisationBijker 1987 27
  28. 28. Frame perception/ understanding A Actor A Object/setting C Actor B Frame perception/ understanding B Event C Metacomm. B, C Communication B, C Action B informs ... confirms challenges guides informs attention, perception, understanding of confirms/challenges Metacomm. A Communication A Action A (re)configures 28 Ro2: framing process Garfinkel 1967, 2002, Mondada 2011, Warfield Rawls 2003, Schatzki 2002, Aarsand 2007 produces produces
  29. 29. Ro2: the processuality of gaming • Enactment as »gaming« involves two constitutive orders: gaming a game and this game • No »magic circle« necessary: just actors’ perception, understanding, enactment as »gaming« in open, sequential, indexical coordination Aarsand 2007 • Metacommunication does occur, but is neither frequent, nor necessary, nor sufficient to constitute »gaming« (metacommunication is also indexical) 29
  30. 30. frame total mesh of actors, objects/settings, processes producing-changing the reoccurrence of similar situations framing Enactment of a situation as being of a certain type preconfigures reproduces/changes obduracy Features of objects/settings stabilise possible actions, events, communications vis-à-vis actors socialisation Disposition of actors stabilise possible understandings, perceptions, actions vis-à-vis objects 30 Ro2: frame and framing processes Giddens 1984, Bijker 1987
  31. 31. game-related frames/framings paidia ludus Play frame Game frame Designed objects/settingsDesigned objects/settings Toys and playgrounds Games and gaming grounds FramingFraming Playing Gaming Incidental objects/ settings Incidental objects/ settings Playlike interactions Gamelike interactions Designed objects/settingsDesigned objects/settings Playful interactions Gameful interactions KeyingKeying Playful keying Gameful keying 31 transformingkeyingprimaryframe frame
  32. 32. ro3: the materiality of frames • Integrated affordance concept from ecological psychology Mead 1938, Gibson 1986, cf. Noble 1979, Heft 1989, Chemero 2003 • Affordance: current relation of actor dispositions and environment features that specifies possible future actions and events relevant to the actor • Social: Stemming from and tied to social world, requiring social learning • Situated: Indexical, framed, (re)configurable • Extended: Encompasses action, motivation, emotion, meaning 32
  33. 33. ro3: the materiality of gaming • Game objects/settings afford frame-aligning actions, communications relative to actor dispositions • Game objects/settings co-constitute and indicate the framing »gaming« • Frame dispositions disclose game objects/settings • Framing specifies situationally intelligible and appropriate uses of game objects/settings • Game objects/settings • articulate chanciness and cause-effect links • mute consequentiality • compress cause-effect links and focus attention into one scene 33
  34. 34. research objectives 1. Construct a systematic FA of video gaming 2. Explicate the role of process 3. Explicate the role of materiality 4. Describe the frame conventions of video gaming 5. Establish the specifics of instrumental gaming 34
  35. 35. 1 Research problem 2 Theory 4 Empirical results 5 Outlook 35 3 Method
  36. 36. research method Describe frame conventions of leisurely & instrumental video gaming descriptive, theory-generating Qualitative research, grounded theory Corbin & Strauss 2008 theory-guided Starting with conceptual framework Maxwell 2004 directed qualitative content analysis Initial guiding framework, open for emergence/fading of concepts Hsieh & Shannon 2005, Gläser & Laudel 2010 36
  37. 37. Data collection strategy research objective strategy Frame conventions of leisurely and instrumental gaming (RO4,5) = Sample & compare data on both Cognitive schemata that are … Episodic interviews Flick 2010 Intersubjective and ... Purposive sampling of subjects to maximise variation across relevant dimensions Taken-for-granted Invite recall of norm breaches Garfinkel 1967 Invite contrasting comparison of diverging forms Goffman 1986 37
  38. 38. research process Conceptual framework Interview guide Sampling strategy Interviewing Transcription Coding/Memoing Integration theory data collection & analysis writeup Cf. Corbin & Strauss 2008, Gläser & Laudel 2010 38
  39. 39. initial conceptual framework aspects organised by frames possible variations of frames Motivational relevancy Settings Goffman 1963, Deterding 2013 Rules for action and communication Devices Deterding 2013, Fritz et al. 2012 Objects, settings, events Genres Deterding 2013, Fritz et al. 2012 Attentive access, focus, involvement Contextures Goffman 1963, Simon 2007, Deterding 2013 Emotion (display) Age Fritz et al. 2012 Actors and footing Gender Fritz et al. 2012 Internal organisation Gaming intensity Fritz et al. 2012 Metacommunication Frame limits Gearing into the world Goffman 1986 39
  40. 40. purposive sampling for variation dimension participant #1 ... participant #n Gender (male, female) female Age (19-50+) 53 Gaming intensity (low-intense) low Genre (Casual, sport, simulation, Jump & Run, Action/Shooter, …) Casual, social games Device (PC, Browser, Console, mobile console …) Tablet, Browser Setting (Home, arcade, LAN party, ...) Home Contexture (Singleplayer, F2F Multiplayer, synchronous online multiplayer…) Singleplayer Form (Leisurely, instrumental) Leisurely 1Fritz et al. 2012 2Deterding 2013 3Simon 2007 40
  41. 41. research key points • 19 interviewees gaming leisurely and instrumentally: game journalists, designers, researchers, e-sport athletes, »regular« gamers • Semi-structured interviews, 90-120 min. length, plus accompanying participant observation • Coding and analysis w/ MAXQDA 41
  42. 42. 1 Research problem 3 Method 2 Theory 5 Outlook 42 4 Empirical results
  43. 43. instrumental keyingsleisurely modes Exotelic instrumental goal Professional norms Highly consequential Mostly controlled Autotelic enjoyment Sportsmanship norms Slightly consequential Mostly autonomous 43 Review gaming Analytic gaming E-sport training E-sport tournament Relaxing gaming Socialising gaming Engrossing gaming Hardcore gaming Competitive gaming
  44. 44. • Not one video game frame: multiple modes of gaming around motivational relevancyStrong 1979 • Participation norms emerged as cluster of conventions: Whether to play what when with whom, and cease play • Settings shield from disapproving onlookers • Devices fit socialisation and modes better or worse • Genres fit modes and affect participation norms through closure points, participation dependency, initiation effort • Contextures matter as social closeness: response presence and past/future interactions affect strength of participation and harmony norms RO4: conventions of video gaming 44
  45. 45. RO4: conventions of video gaming Motivation • Autotelic enjoyment (of euphoric ease, engrossment) Rules • Playing by the letter and the spirit of the rules; no circumvention of technically given scope of action (»cheating«) • Strategic action is allowed and demanded (gameworthiness), but to be balanced with enjoyment of others (harmony) Emotion • Display care about outcome (no »spoilsporting«), but remain cool enough to strategise • Amplified arousal (display) in multiplayer gaming through up- & downtalking, emotion performance Attention • Easy material access to game state, material covering of »hidden information« • Focus on and engrossment in game state allowed and expected Internal organisation, actors • Gaming encounter (ratified participants: onlooker, player, …) encloses gameplay (player in rule focus, character in fiction focus) organised in rounds; further inner laminations possible (game in game, fiction in fiction) Objects, settings, events • Dedicated rooms shield from embarrassment through disapproving onlookers • Devices offer joint focus of attention and action Metacommunication • Players and devices need interaction sequences to mutually establish beginnings and endings Gearing into the world, frame limits • Gaming is »slightly consequential«: enough to be arousing, not too much to induce anxiety • Actions, objects, settings are configured to minimise bodily harm (e.g. made symbolic) • Actions, communications, events are framed »as if«, decoupled from surrounding interactions • Detachment of self from outcome after gaming encounter is expected (»good winner/loser«) • Depictions & enactments of sex, violence, nazism are controversial 45
  46. 46. r04: modes of leisurely gaming relaxing socialising engrossing hardcore competitive Motivational relevancy Relaxation Relatedness Engrossment Competence Achievement Telicity Very low Low Medium High Very high Absorption Very low Low Very high High Very high Arousal Very low Medium-high Medium High Very high Gameworthiness Very low Low Medium High Very high Harmony Very low/absent Very high Low/absent Very low/absent Very low Typical contexture Mostly singleplayer F2F Multiplayer Mostly singleplayer Mostly singleplayer Multiplayer Typical genres Social & casual games Party & board games RPG, adventure, TBS, simulation Shooter, RTS, action, MMORPG Combat, sports, shooters, RTS Typical devices Mobile, tablet, PC Console, PC PC, console Console, PC PC, console Typical settings Transit, recreation spots, home Private or shared room at home Private room at home Private room at home Private room at home 46 Cf. Strong 1979
  47. 47. »I would call it a game – but I did not play it.« Object Framing ro5: Instrumental gaming
  48. 48. ro5: instrumental gaming • Again, multiple forms of instrumental gaming: reviewing, analysing, training, tournament • Participants reported instrumental gaming to be »not playing«, used emic terms to distinguish them • But behaviour and configurations highly similar to leisurely gaming • And people reported »slipping« from instrumental into leisurely ‣ Instrumental play is a keying: a re-framing 48
  49. 49. Keyings are »conventions by which a given activity, ... meaningful in terms of some primary framework, is transformed into something patterned on this activity but seen by the participants to be something quite else.« Erving Goffman frame analysis (1986: 43-44) 49
  50. 50. e.g.A rehearsal 50
  51. 51. ro5: controlled motivation • Instrumental keyings give rise to dysphoric tension = controlled motivationGoffman 1953, 1972, Deci & Ryan 2012 • When current needs mismatch situational givens and salient controlling motivations keep individual from changing or leaving • Leisurely gaming typically allows freedom to change or leave the situation: Taken-for-granted absence of controlling motivation is part of game enjoyment 51
  52. 52. 1 Research problem 3 Method 2 Theory 4 Empirical results 52 5 Outlook
  53. 53. summary • FA distinguishing »games« as objects/settings and »gaming« as situational framing accounts for • Convergence: Situational actor-object relation affords gaming, but actors constitute it with objects • Instrumental play: A keying of gaming as instrumental task • The is no one video gaming frame, but leisurely modes of gaming around types of enjoyment and instrumental keyings around types of instrumental goals • Leisurely gaming is enjoyable partially because it provides the autonomy to reconfigure or leave the situation 53
  54. 54. limitations • Small, homogeneous sample, qualitative study ‣ Calls for quantitative validation, cross-cultural & historical comparison for generalisability • Mainly interview data ‣ Calls for observational data for actual behaviour • Relatively small number of (instrumental) contexts ‣ Calls for broadening across more contexts 54
  55. 55. Ramifications & Future research • »Gaming« as frames and framing suggests theoretical approach to »media« in age of convergence • Situational autonomy support important for game enjoyment ‣ Poses challenge for serious games, gamification in low-autonomy situations • Situational factors important for game enjoyment ‣ Calls for ecological approach to/studies of game enjoyment »in the wild« 55
  56. 56. @dingstweets Thank you.
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