Written by Lennart Nacke.
I am at the CHI PLAY conference (a conference series that I started 3 years ago in Toronto) in Austin, Texas and the conference just began with a great keynote from Jamie Madigan of The Psychology of Games.
— Lennart Nacke (@acagamic) October 17, 2016
Jamie talked about a massive increase in game research in the past years ( think he mainly referred to psychology journals, but I believe this is a trend across fields). The useful thing about this increase in scientific approaches for understanding games, is that video game designers now also have more tools than ever to help them create better products and rely on science rather than on anecdotal evidence. Jamie presented 30 ideas for video game research across 9 topics.
While I think many people found the talk very inspiring and the topics timely to be presented. However, since this is a community of researchers, from talking to some attendees in the lunch break (especially students), I got the feeling that many are already working on the current research topics that were being presented. I know that within my own research group at least 10 of these are either currently being addressed or have been published already. I also wonder how many of these topics are presented this year or will end up at CHI PLAY next year. Talking to Zach Toups, the conference co-chair, I believe the talk was actually an excellent drive though to outline the scope of the research field that we are in.
— Lennart Nacke (@acagamic) October 17, 2016
However, I wanted to know just how many of these topics, we have already covered at CHI PLAY, so here is my breakdown of Jamie’s topics with pointers to some of the CHI PLAY research that I could find already (if your CHI PLAY research is not in there, please feel free to let me know and I’ll add it to this list).
Here are Jamie’s 30 ideas for game research:
- How can games be used for stress recovery?(Plant-based Games for Anxiety Reduction)
- What are the functions of in-game relationships?(Playing Alone, Playing With Others: Differences in Player Experience and Indicators of Wellbeing)
- Can games help you develop emotional or social skills? (Social Experience in World of Warcraft: Technological and Ideological Mediations, Playing Support: Social Connectedness Amongst Male Videogame Players)
- What triggers in-game purchases?
- What do people think of those who “pay to win?”
- Do game elements motivate by setting goals? (The Gamification User Types Hexad Scale)
- Why are loot drops so motivating? (The Gamification User Types Hexad Scale)
- Why do people love really difficult games? (Adaptation in Digital Games: The Effect of Challenge Adjustment on Player Performance and Experience, Learning curves: analysing pace and challenge in four successful puzzle games)
- How do we link game mechanics with player motivation/types? (Roles People Play: Key Roles Designed to Promote Participation and Learning in Alternate Reality Games, The Gamification User Types Hexad Scale, How Self-Esteem Shapes our Interactions with Play Technologies, The Mimesis Effect: The Effect of Roles on Player Choice in Interactive Narrative Role-Playing Games ← Added by author request, but was actually published at CHI!)
- How is identity or other information signalled through showing off? (Player Identity Dissonance and Voice Interaction in Games, What’s in a Name? Naming Practices in Online Video Games)
- Does deliberate practice make you better at games? (Using Empirical Learning Curve Analysis to Inform Design in an Educational Game)
- Why do players grind?
- Does forcing players to take breaks do them (or anyone) any good?
- What effects do tutorials, instructions, or overbearing help have on how people play? (The Placebo Effect in Digital Games: Phantom Perception of Adaptive Artificial Intelligence)
- How do leaders in MMOs influence their guilds?
- How does social proof affect our perceptions of games? (Trust Me: Social Games are Better than Social Icebreakers at Building Trust, Engaged by boos and cheers: the effect of co-located game audiences on social player experience, Gaze-Based Onlooker Integration: Exploring the In-Between of Active Player and Passive Spectator in Co-Located Gaming)
- How do gamers form perceptions of justice and fairness?
- How does streaming affect how people play games?
- How do hot/cold emotional states of arousal affect our decision-making in games?
- Does the history of an in-game object have an effect on how much we value it? (“The Collecting Itself Feels Good”: Towards Collection Interfaces for Digital Game Objects)
- How do sunk costs affect how we view and play games?
- How do our decision-making heuristics show up in video games? (The Mimesis Effect: The Effect of Roles on Player Choice in Interactive Narrative Role-Playing Games ← Added by author request, but was actually published at CHI!)
- Does the mere exposure effect soften our perception of Wii U games?
- How do leaderboards drive competition? (Manipulating Leaderboards to Induce Player Experience, Ranking Practices and Distinction in League of Legends, Visualizations for Retrospective Analysis of Battles in Team-based Combat Games: A User Study)
- How do group dynamics affect competition?(Playing with strangers: understanding temporary teams in league of legends, A framework for cooperative communication game mechanics from grounded theory)
- What makes for good AI team mates or opponents? (The Influence of Virtual Agents on Player Experience and Performance, A Breathtaking Journey.: On the Design of an Empathy-Arousing Mixed-Reality Game, Flow during Individual and Co-operative Gameplay)
- What’s up with immersion/spatial presence in games? (Removing the HUD: The Impact of Non-Diegetic Game Elements and Expertise on Player Involvement, Integrated Questionnaires: Maintaining Presence in Game Environments for Self-Reported Data Acquisition, What Drives People: Creating Engagement Profiles of Players from Game Log Data)
- How do games create fear, horror, anger, joy, and other emotions? (Expressing Emotions With Synthetic Affect Bursts)
- Why do people cheat in games?
- How do you reduce toxic behaviour in games?
As I mentioned above, this list is preliminary and only for the CHI PLAY conference, but I am sure there is much research going on, which is concerned with these topics. If you have a feeling that there is not, then this would be a good time to pick up one of these questions and develop a great study for CHI PLAY next year. I hope you were inspired and look forward to a great conference with everyone. If you have more info on how to complete this list, please send me a tweet to Lennart Nacke.
— Dr. Jose Zagal (@JoseZagal) October 17, 2016
Maybe, I will see you at our arcades?