Design for Play | Week 6 | Class A (no class)

Christina was at CHI and her sub had to cancel, so this was a work session!

CHI opening keynote

Check out these CHI papers

  • (Don’t) stand by me: How trait psychopathy and NPC emotion influence player perceptions, verbal responses, and movement behaviours in a gaming task
    Social interactions are an essential part of many digital games, and provide benefits to players; however, problematic social interactions also lead to harm. To inform our understanding of the origins of harmful social behaviours in gaming contexts, we examine how trait psychopathy influences player perceptions and behaviours within a gaming task. After measuring participants’ (n=385) trait-level boldness, meanness, and disinhibition, we expose them to neutral and angry social interactions with a non-player character (NPC) in a gaming task and assess their perceptions, verbal responses, and movement behaviours. Our findings demonstrate that the traits significantly influence interpretation of NPC emotion, verbal responses to the NPC, and movement behaviours around the NPC. These insights can inform the design of social games and communities and can help designers and researchers better understand how social functioning translates into gaming contexts.
  • Prevalence and Salience of Problematic Microtransactions in Top-Grossing Mobile and PC Games: A Content Analysis of User Reviews 
    Microtransactions have become a major monetisation model in digital games, shaping their design, impacting player experience, and raising ethical concerns. Research in this area has chiefly focused on loot boxes. This begs the question whether other microtransactions might actually be more relevant and problematic for players. We therefore conducted a content analysis of negative player reviews (n=801) of top-grossing mobile and desktop games to determine which problematic microtransactions are most prevalent and salient for players. We found that problematic microtransactions with mobile games featuring more frequent and different techniques compared to desktop games. Across both, players minded issues related to fairness, transparency, and degraded user experience, supporting prior theoretical work, and importantly take issue with monetisation-driven design as such. We identify future research needs on why microtransactions in particular spark this critique, and which player communities it may be more or less representative of.
  • “I Don’t Want To Shoot The Android’: Players Translate Real-Life Moral Intuitions to In-Game Decisions in Detroit: Become Human
    In interactive story games, players make decisions that advance and modify the unfolding story. In many cases, these decisions have a moral component. Examining decision-making in these games illuminates whether players mobilize their real-life morality to make in-game decisions and what impact this has in both the game world and real life. Using mixed-methods consisting of semi-structured interviews and the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ30), we collected data from 19 participants who played the game Detroit: Become Human. We analyzed how participants applied their real-life morals toward in-game decisions using thematic analysis and statistical analysis of the MFQ30 results. Qualitative findings indicate that participants mobilize their moral intuitions to make in-game decisions and how much participants cared about their game characters influenced their choices. We contribute a better understanding of how players react to moral dilemmas in interactive story games for game designers to help them improve player experience.
  • Emotional Exploration and the Eudaimonic Gameplay Experience: A Grounded Theory
    Research on the emotional experience of playing videogames has increased in recent years, yet much of this work is focused on the hedonistic player experience (PX) commonly associated with the nebulous concept of ‘fun’ and positive affect. Researchers are increasingly paying more attention to the eudaimonic PX commonly associated with ‘appreciation’, mixed-affect and reflection. To further investigate eudaimonic PX we interviewed 24 games players about ‘significant or memorable emotional experiences’ from their games playing and used grounded theory to analyse their responses. This led to the construction of the concept of ‘emotional exploration’ which is used to help explain (i) why players would seek out a eudaimonic PX, (ii) how eudaimonic PX is constituted and (iii) how developers can design for a eudaimonic PX. We further make the case for the ‘eudaimonic gameplay experience’ to be realised as different and separate to pre-existing notions of eudaimonic entertainment.
  • Do People Use Games to Compensate for Psychological Needs During Crises? A Mixed-Methods Study of Gaming During COVID-19 Lockdowns
    Do people use games to cope with adverse life events and crises? Research informed by self-determination theory proposes that people might compensate for thwarted basic psychological needs in daily life by seeking out games that satisfy those lacking needs. To test this, we conducted a preregistered mixed-method survey study (n = 285) on people’s gaming behaviours and need states during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020). We found qualitative evidence that gaming was an often actively sought out and successful means of replenishing particular needs, but one that could ‘backfire’ for some through an appraisal process discounting gaming as ‘unreal’. Meanwhile, contrary to our predictions, the quantitative data showed a “rich get richer, poor get poorer” pattern: need satisfaction in daily life positively correlated with need satisfaction in games. We derive methodological considerations and propose three potential explanations for this contradictory data pattern to pursue in future research.