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Outside the Box: Toward an Ecology of Gaming Enjoyment

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My talk at the Lincoln Games Symposium 2017

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Outside the Box: Toward an Ecology of Gaming Enjoyment

  1. 1. outside the boxtoward an ecology of gaming enjoyment Sebastian Deterding University of York November 10, 2017 c b
  2. 2. »Enriched environments«
  3. 3. Marian Diamond »The combination of toys and friends was established early on as vital to qualifying the environment as ›enriched‹.« qtd. in stuart brown, play (2009: 39)
  4. 4. Playing!
  5. 5. Marian Diamond »Back in the early 1960s, women had to struggle to be taken seriously as scientists. I was already seen as this silly woman who watched rats play, so I did avoid the words ›toys‹ and ›play‹.« qtd. in stuart brown, play (2009: 40)
  6. 6. Game an object with formal features
  7. 7. Playing a specific frame of engagement
  8. 8. jumping cracks on walkways six degrees of wikipedia 10 playing does not require games: »informal games«
  9. 9. debugging playtesting/reviewing making a machinima testing screen resolution a scientific study learning (serious games) sports (e-sports) work (goldfarming) 11 Taylor 2006, Sicart 2011 games dosn’t determine play: »instrumental play«
  10. 10. our guide for the morning
  11. 11. 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) 13
  12. 12. How do objects, contexts, and people interact to afford gaming enjoyment?
  13. 13. safe action embarrassment autonomy
  14. 14. <1> safe action
  15. 15. material frames afford uses & meanings features of the environment dispositions of the actor
  16. 16. Failure
  17. 17. “negotiable consequence” as socio-material accompplishment
  18. 18. strategic interaction
  19. 19. outcome = payoff
  20. 20. outcome =!= payoff reason #1
  21. 21. iconic action with safe props
  22. 22. symbolic action with safe props
  23. 23. »Now the central question can be put: what system of enforcement is employed to ensure that the game will be played in the right ‘spirit,’ that is, that once the player makes a move, he will abide by his action and not, for example, change his mind in mid-play or withdraw his bet or refuse to let go of it, or claim he is not ‘really’ playing, or tip the table over?« Erving Goffman strategic interaction (1969: 121)
  24. 24. Blam! You’re dead! No! Am not!
  25. 25. collectively enforced commitment reason #2
  26. 26. unambiguous, hard-to manipulate props reason #3
  27. 27. muting symbolic consequence reason #4
  28. 28. I don’t love you anymore Atreus /whisper: I don’t love you anymore I don’t love you anymore. By: Me [mailto:me@here.com] Sent: Thursday, September 26, 23:45 pm To: You [you@there.com] Re: Our relationship I don’t love you anymore.
  29. 29. [ironic voice] I don’t love you anymore Atreus /whisper: “I don’t love you anymore” ;-) I don’t love you anymore. By: Me [mailto:me@here.com] Sent: Thursday, September 26, 23:45 pm To: You [you@there.com] Re: Our relationship “I don’t love you anymore.” ;-) *wink*
  30. 30. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlatimer/5173242541 outcome =!= symbolic payoff
  31. 31. art »as if« fictional media contests games rehearsals play
  32. 32. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlatimer/5173242541 »as if« requires situational work
  33. 33. else »work« devolves into »shoot«
  34. 34. heightened arousal enjoyment #1
  35. 35. raised symbolic stakes of self ...
  36. 36. … feed into arousal
  37. 37. »collective effervescence« enjoyment #2
  38. 38. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlatimer/5173242541 overt »as if« enables covert meanings enjoyment #3
  39. 39. showing character in the face of Fate
  40. 40. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlatimer/5173242541 modernity forbids »archaic« Fatefulness
  41. 41. modern character display
  42. 42. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlatimer/5173242541 modern character display
  43. 43. <2> embarrassment
  44. 44. charles horton Cooley »The thing that moves us to pride or shame is not the mere mechanical reflection of ourselves [in a mirror], but an imputed sentiment, the imagined effect of this reflection upon another’s mind.« human nature and the social order (1922: 184)
  45. 45. embarrassment embarrassment embarrassment embarrassment play embarrassment blocks play in non-play contexts
  46. 46. But then why does this work?
  47. 47. Festival: a known transgressive situation reason #1
  48. 48. … with framing information
  49. 49. normalcy in numbers reason #2
  50. 50. embarrassment embarrassment embarrassment embarrassment play play community shields from embarrassment
  51. 51. http://file-magazine.com/blog/before-i-die-by-candy-chang also as material trace of others
  52. 52. A space safe from disapproving eyes reason #3
  53. 53. Johan Huizinga »This is the third main characteristic of play: its secludedness [...] play moves and has its being within a playground marked off beforehand either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course.« homo ludens (1950: 9–10)
  54. 54. »Since I am then mostly in a public surrounding, loud screaming or throwing that thing in the corner are not an option. Although you would really want to do it, you have to restrain yourself a bit there and, let’s put it this way, appear a bit more suited for public.« (P7/269-271) unregulated emotion enjoyment #1
  55. 55. shameless impropriety indulgence enjoyment #2
  56. 56. … und gemeinsame Entblößungrelatedness through joint embarrassment enjoyment #3
  57. 57. I trust you not to really hurt me. You can trust me not to really hurt you.
  58. 58. <3> autonomy
  59. 59. Roger Caillois man, play, and games (1958/2001: 6) »There is also no doubt that play must be defined as a free and voluntary activity […]. A game which one would be forced to play would at once cease being play.«
  60. 60. Jesper Juul »Roger Caillois claims that games are voluntary. The problem is that it is quite unclear what this means. Is it not a game if social pressure forces the players to play? Because human motivation is too complex to be explained in terms of its being voluntary/involuntary, I believe that it is not possible to meaningfully describe whether games are voluntary or not.« half-real (2005: 31–3)
  61. 61. Notice something?
  62. 62. Jesper Juul »Roger Caillois claims that games are voluntary. The problem is that it is quite unclear what this means. Is it not a game if social pressure forces the players to play? Because human motivation is too complex to be explained in terms of its being voluntary/involuntary, I believe that it is not possible to meaningfully describe whether games are voluntary or not.« half-real (2005: 31–3)
  63. 63. Roger Caillois man, play, and games (2001: 6) »There is also no doubt that play must be defined as a free and voluntary activity, source of joy and amusement. A game which one would be forced to play would at once cease being play.«
  64. 64. Jesper Juul »Roger Caillois claims that games are voluntary. The problem is that it is quite unclear what this means. Is it not a game if social pressure forces the players to play? Because human motivation is too complex to be explained in terms of its being voluntary/involuntary, I believe that it is not possible to meaningfully describe whether games are voluntary or not.« half-real (2005: 31–3)
  65. 65. Edward Deci, Richard Ryan »To be autonomous means to behave with a sense of volition, willingness, and congruence; it means to fully endorse and concur with the behavior one is engaged in.« motivation, personality, and development (2012: 85)
  66. 66. Fun Voluntary Voluntary Fun
  67. 67. the issue with non-play contexts Heeteretal.2011,Mollick&Rothbard2013
  68. 68. in-game autonomy support
  69. 69. in-game autonomy support • Salient autonomy with meaningful choice (impacts game world, no faux choice) & open spaces • Salient controlled motivation related to expectations and values • Expected opportunity for action is thwarted (invisible walls, ‘logical’ move impossible, game is more ‘railroady’ than genre standard) • Cut scenes, QTE take away expected agency • Progress requires acting against player’s values Ryan, Rigby & Przybylski 2006; Rigby & Ryan 2011
  70. 70. http://albanyny.bitsbytesbots.com/after-school-enrichment contextual autonomy support?
  71. 71. »It’s still a game as such, and defined as such, but I would not say that *I* play it at that moment.« »sometimes you just have to play, you have to get further, no matter whether you want to or not. And then, then that is, then playing is indeed work.« autonomy experience not context drives work/play labelling finding #1
  72. 72. leisure play has license to reconfigure & leave finding #2
  73. 73. leisure play accomplishes a “relaxed field” finding #3
  74. 74. Interviewer: »So that’s the usual process, that you, that you pick a day, and then on that day start in the afternoon and stop in the evening? Interviewee: »If it is that way and I can focus on the afternoon, then I also plan it like that, such that I have finished everything until then, until that point, that could make me go to the door or interrupt the game.« »in my private rooms, then I can show any emotion, because there would be nothing inappropriate in doing so, because I wouldn’t offend anyone with it« [With a Nintendo DS] I am then mostly in a public surrounding, loud screaming or throwing that thing in the corner are not an option. Although you would really want to do it, you have to restrain yourself a bit there and, let’s put it this way, appear a bit more suited for public.« relaxed field
  75. 75. leisure play minimises consequence finding #4
  76. 76. »[When money is involved] there's the pressure that you have to win. Of course, everybody who plays wants to win somehow. […] Bu::t when it's about money, that's a real thing, and that you have to work hard for. That wouldn't have a playful character for me then.« »when you fail and know: <<I can’t write the review tomorrow>>, because you actually haven’t reached these and these things, [...] the consequence then means for instance, that you have to get up in the morning two hours early to start the game again. And that can be incredibly infuriating.« minimised consequence
  77. 77. solitary leisurely play avoids social pressures finding #5
  78. 78. »Especially with WoW you somehow had [...] a social coercion behind it. Because as I said, this reputation and then also the social contexts that you maintained through it. Or found there. [...Y]ou don’t feel like training in the evening, or something, and you still go there. Because you feel socially obliged somehow.« »[When playing with friends not alone] the considerateness for the friends dominates, for the people with whom I’m sitting there. So then it’s less the case, that I focus on the game and say: <<I am now, now I am free and can determine this.>> Instead it’s also more about me being the host, and being a guest of somebody and still take regard of that.« avoiding social pressures
  79. 79. <4> summary
  80. 80. safe action
  81. 81. embarrassment
  82. 82. autonomy
  83. 83. outside this (analytic object) box
  84. 84. outside this (explanatory model) box
  85. 85. outside this (methodological) box
  86. 86. sebastian@codingconduct.cc @dingstweets codingconduct.cc Thank you.

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