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Fun and Games workshop

Conceptualising, Operationalising and Measuring the Player Experience in Videogames, run by Peta Wyeth and Daniel Johnson.

So this was my first ever academic workshop. Started slightly oddly, when they asked me about my presentation. I hadn't talked about participating in a workshop with anyone and hadn't realised that you were supposed to submit a paper for the workshop and present to the group. Heh. Fortunately they weren't particularly upset with me, and let me stay! (This was my fault for not reading the link, but also will remind me to check for any gotchas with anything new I come across in future, even of it sounds like something I already know about!)

There were two questions in this workshop: what are the components of the player experience, and how do we measure them? Why do we want to know got added later, because what you want to use the findings for (e.g. Designing new games? Explaining the impact of games? Etc) affects the bits of the experience you might be interested in and want to measure.

The presentations took up the morning session (interspersed with coffee), and were a good introduction to people. Next time I definitely would be interested in doing one - it saves so much repetition later! Flow was brought up a lot. The more I hear and read about flow the more trouble I have with it - it seems far too woolly as a concept to talk about and measure. I was slightly startled to discover that immersion isn't even fully defined, and many definitions of flow include immersion as a part. There seems to me to still be a lot of work to do in that area - which makes it a good challenge I guess!

In the afternoon we split into two groups - one looking at drawing a conceptual map of the player experience, and one looking at the methods available to measure that experience. I joined the conceptual map group, and I'm wishing I had taken a photo of our drawing! We had the player and the game, with the experience sitting between the two. The designer was separate. All three sat within the context, which probably needed breaking down further. There was scope for rejigging it in a number of ways, but it didn't feel too far out. (I think the photo was going to be put up on the wiki.) We also drew an expanded model of the experience, with the steps that might occur bad on Don Norman: the player chooses a goal, a strategy, then implements the strategy. The game (or opponents) process that strategy and responds. Then the player receives feedback, interprets that feedback, and checks their new position against their goal. They then adjust their goal and go around the loop again.

One of the things I liked about that was that it works for digital and non-digital games. There was some discussion about whether there was a difference between a video game or a sport. I'm not convinced there is, but it's not clear. Jesper Juul in "Half-Real" makes a point in the introduction about a video game being one where the computer upholds the rules rather than the player. How does that change the experience? Does that mean that the versions of monopoly with an electronic bank (but otherwise board pieces) are video or not? Sadly we only got to those questions at the end of the day, but I think given my current work looking at both face-to-face and online games it's an area I should look into a little. I need to do more reading - self-determination theory was mentioned for sports, and I have not heard of it.

So yeah. I hope to find some time to do some more thinking about this. There was some talk of a special issue, and it would be great to be able to contribute.

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