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Sotamaa Achievement Unlocked 270909 Final


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Sotamaa Achievement Unlocked 270909 Final

  1. 1. Achievement Unlocked – Rethinking Gaming Capital Olli Sotamaa F.R.O.G. 2009, Vienna, Austria September 25-27, 2009
  2. 2. Structure What are game achievements? Why achievements intrique players? Player motivations and achievements Theories of collecting Gaming capital Are game achievements bound to change the dynamics of game cultures?
  3. 3. What are achievements? Montola et al. (2009): Game achievements are secondary reward systems designed for digital games Achievements offer optional sub-goals and provide rewards that are visible to the player and other players In the past few years achievements have been introduced to various gaming platforms
  4. 4. Kuvia Xbox Live Gamerscore
  5. 5. Kuvia Kongregate Badges
  6. 6. Steam Achievements: Team Fortress 2
  7. 7. World of Warcraft Achievements Mafia Wars Achievements
  8. 8. Why study achievements? Achievements raise strong emotions “over-achievers” and “badge junkies” vs. those who see that achievements annoyingly distract attention from the actual gameplay Achievements can change play motivations They also seem to transform the subtle dynamics of game cultures
  9. 9. Not an entirely new idea...
  10. 10. Activision sew-on patches
  11. 11. Play motivations? At first glance achievements seem to appeal to particular player motivations achievers (Bartle), completionists However, achievements can provide replayability and extended play time for various kinds of players Importantly, achievements also include social aspects like bragging rights and as we will see they can also become materials of identity work
  12. 12. Achievements and play behaviour Achievements not only serve existing motivations but they can also make players behave differently and force them to think what the game is all about Some examples: – Geometry Wars: Pacifist achievement – Team Fortress 2: Death Sentence achievement (Rocket-jump with 15 health) – Mafia Wars: My little friend achievement
  13. 13. Beyond play motivations All in all, the meanings attached to achievements cannot be entirely reduced to play motivations > larger perspective is needed The alternative starting points I discuss in the paper: theories of collecting dynamics of gaming capital
  14. 14. Collecting “a form of acquisition and possession that is selective, active, and longitudinal. A necessary condition is that the objects, ideas, beings, or experiences derive larger meaning by their assemblage into a set.” - Belk et al. 1991
  15. 15. The significance of collection Pöyhtäri (1996) argues that: the collector uses her collection to demarcate a special area from the variety of all objects the objects that miss from the collection set the collector’s remaining tasks in this respect, the collection both defines the activity and is the objective of it
  16. 16. Belk et al.: Collecting differs from... accumulating that lacks selectivity and the items associated with it lack unity and defy categorical description hoarding that focuses on utilitarian items in the expectation that they may be needed in the future investing in which the sole purpose for acquisition and possession is to make profit
  17. 17. Collecting and achievements Is it possible to form a original and unique collection of achievements? - At the moment, not really... Often the player's relation to achievements seems suggestive of accumulating (e.g. Xbox Live Gamerscore is mostly about quantity, not quality) While the economic benefits of game achievements are not entirely straight forward, the connections between achievements and capital are already visible (hoarding, investing)
  18. 18. Economic aspects of achievements Achievements increase platform loyalty Achievements spawn paratextual industries – Guidebooks – Player-to-player services Leads us towards the idea of gaming capital
  19. 19. Gaming capital Gaming capital (Consalvo 2007) is a flexible cultural currency gained by playing and being knowledgeable about games (reworking of Bourdieu's cultural capital) Not only about being a good player, but any games-related activities that are appreciated in the player’s social circle can become sources of gaming capital (Sotamaa 2009)
  20. 20. Gaming capital and achievements Traditionally gaming capital has been something that confers status only in the eyes of the beholder who is initiated into the particular subculture Game achievements make gaming capital quantifiable and visible in new ways As achievements increasingly find their way e.g. to blogs and social networking sites one's gaming hobby becomes openly expressed
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  22. 22. Game achievements presented in Facebook
  23. 23. Conclusion Game achievements are there to stay, we should be more aware about the potentials invested in them While one's attitude towards achievements is often connected to play motivations, we have to look beyond “pure” play So far game achievement systems mostly miss many pleasures associated with collecting Achievements make gaming capital visible in new ways and can for example work to make playing more acceptable