Disambiguating Play: An Exploratory Analysis of Gaming Modes


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Disambiguating Play: An Exploratory Analysis of Gaming Modes

  1. 1. disambiguating playan exploratory analysis of gaming modes Sebastian Deterding MAGIC Lab, Rochester Institute of Technology DiGRA 2013, Atlanta, August 27, 2013 c b
  2. 2. 1 Research problem 3 Method 2 Theory 4 Empirical results 5 Summary 2
  3. 3. 3 Method 2 Theory 4 Empirical results 5 Summary 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 specific mode of engagement 6 what it takes for granted
  7. 7. jumping cracks on walkways six degrees of wikipedia 7 informal games: gaming w/ many objects
  8. 8. debugging playtesting/reviewing making a machinima testing screen resolution a scientific study learning (serious games) sports (e-sports) work (goldfarming) instrumental play: gaming Forms ... 8 Taylor 2006, Sicart 2011
  9. 9. …that lack typical »game« features 9
  10. 10. The challenge of instrumental play • Instrumental play has features (folk-theoretically) associated with work, not play nor games Taylor 2006; Yee 2006; Malaby 2007; Nardi 2009 • Often involuntary, inautonomous, exotelic • Often serious, predefined, non-negotiable consequence • Often negative emotions • Often repetitive, pre-organised, effortful 10
  11. 11. Jesper Juul »According to Roger Caillois, the professional player or athlete is working rather than playing. This quickly becomes counterintuitive since a contest such as a marathon may include professional athletes as well as amateurs who are running “for the fun of it.” This logically means that the marathon is or is not a game at the same time. A better explanation is that even professional players are playing a game, but that in this specific game session, the consequences have been negotiated to be financial and career- determining.« half-real (2005: 62) 11
  12. 12. how to disentangle situational forms of engaging with games?
  13. 13. 13 What is this? What forms does it take?
  14. 14. 14 What sense do they make of their experience?
  15. 15. frame analysis 15
  16. 16. A frame analytic account of the conventions, understandings, experiences of »video gaming« in leisurely and instrumental contexts research goal 16
  17. 17. 1 Research problem 3 Method 4 Empirical results 5 Summary 17 Theory 2
  18. 18. 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) 18
  19. 19. Basic tenets of frame analysis • Frames are people’s socially co-oriented and reproduced »organising principles« for types of situations • They organise both covert experience and overt behaviour • Frames do so materially (how situation X is), and epistemically (how people perceive, conceive, identify, expect X), and normatively (how people demand/sanction X ought to be) 19
  20. 20. gaming frame Total mesh of actors, objects, processes reproducing-changing the reoccurrence of similar types of situations over space & time framing as »gaming« Process of constituting a situation as being »gaming« game objects/settings Stabilise affordances relative to dispositions 20 the gaming frame frame understanding Current understanding of situation as »gaming« gaming dispositions Enable understanding, perception, enactment relative to objects
  21. 21. 1 Research problem 2 Theory 4 Empirical results 5 Summary 21 3 Method
  22. 22. Method • Purposive sampling of interviewees gaming leisurely & instrumentally: journalism, design, research, e- sport (n=19) • Semi-structured interviews, 90-120 min. each • Interviewees invited to report »typical« flow of events, then report norm (breaches) following conceptual framework, then compare contexts • Transcription of all interviews • Coding and analysis w/ MAXQDA following directed qualitative content analysis Hsieh & Shannon 2005, Gläser & Laudel 2011
  23. 23. 1 Research problem 3 Method 2 Theory 5 Summary 23 4 Empirical results
  24. 24. »gaming« is a multitude 24Photo: Robert Hedge
  25. 25. »I would call it a game – but I did not play it.« Object Framing Instrumental gaming
  26. 26. instrumental keyingsleisurely modes Exotelic instrumental goal Professional norms Highly consequential Mostly controlled Autotelic enjoyment Sportsmanship norms Slightly consequential Mostly autonomous 26 Review gaming Analytic gaming E-sport training E-sport tournament Relaxing gaming Socialising gaming Engrossing gaming Hardcore gaming Competitive gaming instrumental gaming leisurely gaming
  27. 27. not a completely new insight ...
  28. 28. 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 28 Cf. Strong 1979
  29. 29. 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 • Experience of instrumental gaming is very different • But: Behaviour and material configurations are highly similar to leisurely gaming ‣ Instrumental play is a keying: a re-framing 29
  30. 30. 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) 30
  31. 31. e.g.A rehearsal 31
  32. 32. Johan Huizinga »First and foremost, all play is a voluntary activity.« homo ludens (1938/1950: 7) Cf. Caillois 2001, Suits 2005, Pellegrini 2009, Burghardt 2005
  33. 33. controlled motivation • Instrumental gaming gives rise to experience of controlled motivationDeci & Ryan 2012 • Occurs 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 • Events framed as »play« feel »work-like« if experienced as controlled motivated, events framed as work feel »like play« if autonomously motivated 33
  34. 34. 1 Research problem 3 Method 2 Theory 4 Empirical results 34 5 Summary
  35. 35. summary • Frame analysis distinguishing »games« as objects from »gaming« as situational framing accounts for • Informal games: 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 35
  36. 36. sebastian@codingconduct.cc @dingstweets codingconduct.cc Thank you.