Stargazing - Emotional Game Analysis & Design Method


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My presentation from GameCultures conference at Magdeburg, in March 2009.

  • Hi Nicole,

    I use the term in a metaphorical sense to describe the method, i.e. I make the analogy between a night sky with countless stars, and a game with various elements and features - and, when those stars/elements align into certain constellations, something special happens. In terms of player experiences, their emotional constituens can be conceptualised as the elements being aligned (and continuously aligning) into particular states, and my method tries to get at how those states can be identified and designed.

    The metaphor then extends to how we as players monitor the game goals in various ways, both via perceptual and/or other means, and how this play behavior tends to build up to an emotional sequence. I guess there is a start for a metrics there, as you suggest!

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  • Interesting slides Aki,

    Would love a definition of what you mean by 'Star Gazing' here as part of the presentation. The connection of the direction of gaze relative to goals is an interesting one. There might be some good player metrics that could come out of this, for at least one dimension of the Player Experience (PX).

    Game On!
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Stargazing - Emotional Game Analysis & Design Method

  1. 1. ‘Stargazing’ Emotional Analysis of Game Designs Aki Järvinen, Ph.D. GameCultures Conference / Magdeburg 2009-3-21
  2. 2. Background: PhD study in game design theory
  3. 3. Recent work •  ‘Understanding Video Games as on games & Emotional Experiences’ emotions •  B.Perron & M.J.Wolf (eds.) Video Game Theory Reader 2. London & New York: Routledge. 2008. •  Adapting the ‘OCC model’ into game analysis
  4. 4. Exploring models for analyzing events, agents & objects in game worlds
  5. 5. My design research into games as results of design practices & solutions
  6. 6. •  The author introduces means for analyzing existing game designs with ‘Stargazing’ particular emphasis on identifying their emotionally relevant features. summarized •  The method aims to give tools for uncovering the secrets of successful game designs, so that such findings could be creatively reinvented for new designs. •  The method applies terminology from object-oriented programming in order to produce results that can be reformulated into a game design document, or channeled into a rapid prototyping task instantly.
  7. 7. •  Recognition of something significant Phasic •  Evaluation of the situation; plans to cope emotions with the situation parallel •  Action readiness; tendencies phasic •  Bodily and expressive effects gameplay •  The four-fold phasic nature of emotions is constantly at work in gameplay •  Such, admittedly totalizing view to gameplay emotions, lets us to try to design them, knowingly
  8. 8. •  Metaphor of stars, sky, and their Emotional relationships game design •  A romantic metaphor for a romantic through the design practice metaphor of •  In terms of the stargazing method, the design elements of a game represent stargazing the stars that align into certain constellations... •  ...thus creating so-called eliciting conditions, i.e. ‘conditions under which an emotion can be triggered.’
  9. 9. The most frequently designed/played eliciting condition in video games?
  10. 10. •  The premise: any particular emotional episode of a player, or players, can be Game Design traced back to a certain game state, or a Research sequence of game states. Problem •  Examples: •  Scripted events in Gears of War or Dead Space •  Sequences of dialogue interaction in Animal Crossing •  Instance in World of Warcraft •  Behavior of fire in Far Cry 2 •  How to analyze their emotional constituents & consequences with a rigorous method?
  11. 11. Game States •  Game state is the ‘frozen slice’ of gameplay, a recognizable phase, as emotional that can be used waypoints •  as a focus point when analyzing games •  as the smallest factor in designing game play from an emotional /experience design standpoint •  Game states combine into sequences, and emotional experiences are sequences of emotions, where the result is more than the sum of its parts
  12. 12. •  Goal monitoring is a concept originating Goal from psychological studies in personal goals monitoring; •  It conceptualizes the constant tracking of how one is doing in terms of the goals under where does it pursuit focus, •  i.e. as behavior that has to do with both perceptually? predicting and experiencing of emotions •  Are there certain perceptual and cognitive vectors or formations – constellations - that emerge in the game play process, and are particular important for goal monitoring •  ...and consequently, for the emotional design of the game?
  13. 13. Stargazing at Zuma: ‘The vector of suspense’ between the skull and the closest ball as the focus of goal monitoring
  14. 14. Stargazing at Tetris: ‘The skyline vector’ as the focus of goal monitoring
  15. 15. A practical •  Future work: Turning stargazing results into concrete design tools future with which emotional gameplay application: dynamics, similar to the above examples, could be modeled and tested through abstractions Emotional wireframe prototypes
  16. 16. Abstractions of vectors into game design ‘toys’
  17. 17. Stargazing at Braid
  18. 18. Stargazing at Portal
  19. 19. •  The emotional vector, rather than being Stargazing at a concrete visual set of dynamics, is a mental projection into the game space Braid & Portal: that has to be figured out, and then executed, by the player ‘Projected •  Goal monitoring consists of a sequence of logical deductions and their outcomes vectors’ •  Perceptual goal monitoring is used to inform cognitive goal monitoring, and vice versa. •  ... This type of goal monitoring has different consequences to the emotional flavor of the play experience
  20. 20. Stargazing 3D & sound: Flower: ‘musical time-space vector’ heavily based on aesthetic perceptions
  21. 21. Stargazing Facebook games; Parking Wars: ‘revisiting vector’ via login/ logout
  22. 22. Practical design case: Jukem the puzzle game prototype with a design where the skyline and suspense vectors combine
  23. 23. How to •  Research question in the works: extrapolate •  How can more complex game mechanics & dynamics be modeled the method in abstract forms? to more complex •  Hypothesis: With the help of analyzing metaphors, and how they genres? relate to the events, objects, and agents •  Left 4 Dead: how is the ‘left to one’s own devices’ metaphor emotionally aligned in the design of the game?
  24. 24. Contact •  Aki Järvinen, Ph.D. • • •  Twitter: @aquito