Game Research

Blog by the game research group

Research through Game Design: Two Cases

Game design aims to solve a design problem of “how do we create this specific game?” The main goal of this process is a game; new understanding about game development and game design is merely a by-product of that process. In game design research the aim is to uncover new facts and insight about game design, design processes, or games as designed objects; that is, to gain new knowledge and understanding about game design. (Lankoski and Holopainen, forthcoming.)

Below you can read two examples of my research by design project.

Lies and Seductions (2009) is a game built around a triangular drama. The game was designed to test ideas of character-driven game design and explore game mechanics around a social conflict between characters. While artificial intelligence (AI) was not a research topic, the game required building an AI capable modeling different personalities that react to events based on their personalities and preferences.

Publications on Lies and Seductions:

  • Lankoski, P. & Horttana, T. (2008). Lies and Seductions. In ICIDS08 (Erfurt, Germany 26–29 Nov), Berlin: Springer, pp. 44–47. DOI=10.1007/978-3-540-89454-4_7.
    Lankoski, P. & Björk, S. (2007). Gameplay design patterns for believable non-player characters. Proceedings of DiGRA 2007 Conference: Situated Play. University of Tokyo: Tokyo. Available at: http://www.digra.org/dl/db/07315.46085.pdf.
    • Lankoski, P. & Björk, S. (2007). Gameplay Design Patterns for Social Networks and Conflicts. In GDTW 2007 Conference Proceedings, Liverpool, UK.

In the MOGAME project (2003–2004), we studied the possibilities of mobile games that utilize the unique features of the mobile technology. The MOGAME project was design and development based research. Within the project (one of the firsts) persistent location-aware multiplayer game, The Songs of North, was build in order to study how certain game mechanics can be used in mobile games. In addition, how different limitations of mobile technology influence to the game design was studied. Pokemon GO (Niantic, 2016) uses similar game mechanics.

Publications on MOGAME

  • Ekman, I., Ermi, L., Lahti, J., Nummela, J., Lankoski, P., & Mäyrä, F. (2005). Designing sound for a pervasive mobile game. ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology ACE 2005, Valencia, Spain. Available at http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1178477.1178492.
  • Lankoski, P., Heliö, S., Nummela, J., Lahti, J., Mäyrä, F., & Ermi, L. (2004). A case study in pervasive game design: The songs of north. In: NordiCHI ’04: Proceedings of the Third Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Tampere. 413-416. Available http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1028014.1028083.

 

Video game marketing – A student textbook

Zackariasson, P., & Dymek, M. (2016). Video Game Marketing: A Student Textbook, Routledge

The game industry is well on its way of becoming one of the world’s biggest cultural and entertainment industries in terms of turn-over. Sweden and the Nordics is a world-leading region, which is not only reflected in remarkably many and extremely successful game developers, but also by many game developer education programmes at university level.

The game medium has many years ago left its roots in the “teenage room” behind, and is now played by a broad spectrum of gamers of all ages on practically any electronic device with a display – on computers, game consoles, mobile phones, tablets, all connected via social media.

Despite the fact that the world of video games is one of the world’s most technologically intensive industries that creates one of the most consumer engaging products on the planet, the actual knowledge of its marketing is virtually non-existent. A very select limited few percent of all video game launches have respectable sales number, an even smaller percentage generates profit. The few hit games that succeed become metaphorical super stars that absorb all the splendour in an endless, and invisible, burial ground of commercial video game failures.

This book, which targets game development students, wants to change this state by acknowledging the basic premises of the marketing field – successful marketing starts before a product has been developed, and constitutes a guiding star throughout the entire development process all the way to product launch – and well beyond that. Marketing is not only about the sales strategy of a finished product (selling “pigs in a poke”), but constitutes a fundamental dimension in all successful product development and strategy. This book aims to help game development students to realise their vision of successful video games – not only technologically, but on all other levels.

Expanding the magic circle – gamification as a marketplace icon

Mikolaj Dymek (2017): Expanding the magic circle – gamification as a marketplace icon, Consumption Markets & Culture

This article explores the gamification trend sweeping the globe promising increased engagement and motivation, in practically any industry, context and culture, based on a stratagem of “game design elements in non-game contexts,” which is its most quoted definition.

The rise of gamification as marketplace icon is examined and particularly claims that position gamification as the manifestation of a wider societal transformation into playful societies – a “ludic turn.” Many of these grandiose statements are the result of ahistoricity and ambiguity regarding the definition of gamification.

Based on game philosophy, game studies and gamification research this article posits gamification as an emergent perspective, as distinct conceptualisation, on the rule-driven organisation of sociotechnical management systems that reference “games.” Of particular importance is the role of rules.

Examples such as Frequent Flyer Programmes and Foursquare are analysed according to the player/consumer positions they bestow, which are explored from participatory, co-creational, critical and game philosophical perspectives.

Conclusively, a “gameful” perspective of rule-generated goal-oriented behaviour, or “playful” perspective of instinctive and limitless fun, shed two challenging perspectives on the interpretation of gamification in the marketplace.

The Business of Gamification – A Critical Analysis

Dymek, M., & Zackariasson, P. (Eds.). (2016). The Business of Gamification: A Critical Analysis. Routledge

Gamification has been for several years one of the most discussed topics and concepts within the worlds of IT, management and marketing. In essence gamification is about “applying game mechanisms in non-game contexts” in everything from health care, education, management strategies through loyalty programmes, marketing and communication campaigns, psychology, sustainability, to, of course, different kinds of apps, exercise programmes, intranets, language learning tools, crowdsourcing, as well as (subtly) in most social media design.

The almost exuberant claim to swiftly transform everyday chores into enjoyable game activities, has captivated many parts of society to experiment with this novel notion – sometimes mobilised by shimmering utopian visions of a new, innovative and playful, but equally responsible and productive, everyday life. The downside is, however, that few people actually now how gamification can be created, an even smaller number of successful implementations exist – and in the murky behind-the-scenes looms a rather dismal view of humans in the character of consumers/employees/citizens as obedient pawns for the invisible and powerful game makers that hide behind playful, glitzy and trendy gamification façades.

The Business of Gamification – A Critical Analysis is one of the first edited volumes in the intersection between gamification studies and business. In this volume, edited by Mikolaj Dymek and Peter Zackariasson, various prominent researchers from around the world analyse gamification within leadership, project management, management and organisation, marketing, retailing, online forums, marketing communications, sustainability – but also critical perspectives that fundamentally question the gamification notion as such and instead paint a dystopian vision where every aspect of our everyday lives become part of one omnipresent gamified life environment.

This edited volume is not only relevant for researchers, but for anyone interested in the notion, and expects a critical examination of the biggest IT and management trends of the last decade.

Game AI (artificial intelligence) for storytelling through play

In story-making games, players create stories together by using narrative tokens. Often there is a tension between players playing to win using the rules of a story-making game, and collaboratively creating a good story. 4Scribes is a competitive story-making game  coupled with computational methods intended to be used for both supporting players’ creativity and narrative coherence. It was developed within the frame of the The C2Learn project which was supported by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework Programme.

 

 

Keywords: Computational creativity, co-creation, interactive narrative, story-making games, game AI

More information:

On how to install and play the game:
Web-page about the game at the C2Learn website.

A paper focussing on the aspects of designing story making games using methods for computational creativity:
Interweaving Story Coherence and Player Creativity through Story-making Games, Eladhari M.P., Lopes P, and Yannakakis G. The Seventh International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling: Singapore, 3-6 November 2014. Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 8832, 2014, pp 73-80.