Digital Games Research Association (2003, Utrecht)


Level Up: NotesNovember 4-6, 2003, Utrecht Uni.

KeyNote: Frans Mayra

Eric Zimmerman – Katie ….? (Both backgrounds in designing games) Invisible Playgrounds Games as a Cultural Environment Game as a Social and Cultural Context

Invisible playgrounds -    blur relationship between space of game an spacies of lifestyles of players -    and blur players and non-players -    say something about fundamental properties of ..

AI Game: The Beast -    part of the film AI -    game played collaboratively across internet -    players uncertain about what was ficitional part of game and what was real-world o    linked to events in reality – e.g. Time Square, NYC

ME: Basis for presuming that the ‘blur’ actually took place. -    empirical support for this claim?

Rules + play + culture

Play – creative Rules – formal sense of play

Huizinga’s Magic Circle - took a step into magic circle – space of play

Play is free movement in an informal structure

Suspicion – infiltrated office environment, creating real dynamic challenges to social structures – relationship between employees

Transformative Play

Artificial Intelligence and Games

Inspiration for Game AI back to Turing Test

Digital game AI has bee less about modelling human-level intelligence and more about presenting an illusion of intelligence

Turing test fool the human into thinking that is a woman

Goals of Game AI? -    challenge player? -    Make game more enjoyable -    Help player play game -    Illusion of intelligence -    Mimic human intelligence -    Ensure games run smoothly

Provide: believable, expected, consistent actions and behaviours (Steven Poole)

AI in past games -    deterministic motion -    tracking -    random -    illusion

AI in current games -    finite state machines -    pathfinding -    scripting -    fuzzy logic -    decision trees -    data-driven design

agent sand AL -    Empire Earth, Half-Life

Expert systems

Genetic algorithms -    creatures

Environmental and Contextual AI -    Sims, Half-life 2, Fable

N-Gram statistical predicton -    player modelling

Bayesian Methods -    modelling game characters

Limitations of Current AI -    strongly rule-based -    current basic AI technologies do not scale well o    exponential growth in complexity with each new behavioural rule

In-Game AI not adaptable (contested, need to do this) -    does not deal with differences in individual players

Benefits of Digital Game AI Innovation

Enhanced Game play (half-life flocking) Novel design and gameplay Increased game immersion Broader appeal Boost reputation of games as an art form -    intelligence animation and interactive story-lines

areas of game AI -    adaptive learning -    dynamic story telling

Adaptive Learnig

Massive Online games – no sense of individuality and agency

Dynamic Story-telling -    interactivity is central issue

Affecting Emotion -    Games still don’t affect us very much emotionally nor challenge us morally

Challenges for AI in Games -    AI standardisation o    Need a standard like Direct X, etc

Primarily limitation is rule-basedness Commercial environment limits as well -    academic research critical here

Moral issues -    imply greater responsibility -    Games are interactive -    Movie viewing largely passive -    Moral issues become more significant as game characters approach some form of realistic consciousness o    ME: what about person behind character

Issues and Approaches in Middleware AI…. Karlsson, Borje bffk@cin.ufpe.br; Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (IFPE)

Game AI: Uniting Analysis, Dsign and Iplementation Michael Mateas

Expressive AI?

Games Studies: games as cultural artifact -    structuralist, semiotic, narrative, sociological

designers: langs for talking about design -    pattern languages

implementation -    no connection to analysis or design

There is a place for a white-box analysis -    conversations with design and analysis interacts with code (as architectural structures)

Game AI

Game AI encompasses broad technologies -    pathfinding, models of emotion, finite states

common link between technologies is that they produce behaviour that can be read as intelligence  (Turing sense)

Related to Newell’s knowledge level and Dennett’s intentional stance

Examples of ‘reading’ game AI -    Enemies in first-person shooters -    The Sims -    Strategic AI in strategy games

Space Invaders – deterministic and unintentional (not really creatures and definitely not AI)

Both AI and physics produce behaviour

AI: lang of intentional behaviour -    AI lies at intersection of player perception of behaviour and code producing behaviour -    Full understanding of game requires accounting for player response to intentional behaviour -    For example, consider Pac Man o    Pattern language analysis •    Enemies that chase player contact results in loss of life) •    Power-ups create vulnerabilities in enemies •    Maze structures •    Difficulty curve •    Level completion via clearing desired objects Game studies perspective -    eating as inversion of shooting (gender implications) o    one of first games popular with women -    narrative of futile consumption -    genre analysis situating game relative to other games with chasin mazes, etc

Critical missing element -    behaviour of the ghosts and how thisimpacts the player experience -    saying ghosts ‘chase’ the player is not enough -    chasing in a line makes speed only variable o    not enough, since merely a speed game -    constantly working together to corner player would be impossibly hard -    much of actuall gameplay dependent on fine details of ghost behavour

Behaviour of ghosts in original pacman very finely tuned to work -    students trying to replicate this struggle, because this part is so important

Iwatani on the Ghost AI (designer of pac man) -    what was most difficult part of designing the game? -    IWATANI: the algorithm for the four ghosts who are dire enemies of the Pac Man – getting all the movements lined up correctly… -    Variation across ghosts (each ghost performs different role) -    Other two ghosts are random -    Variation across time for ghosts (attack patterns)

No complete description of ghost AI -    unable to find it -    much disagreement about the ghosts o    even simple AI supports richness of interpretation -    much of game play of PacMan results from this AI -    Analysis that included the ghost AI would of necessity open the black box

Example: Façade -    design exploration of ‘interactive story’ -    ludology vs narratology -    we’re investigating this question within a concrete architecture

Research: Expressive AI -    focuses on audience o    what architectures support readable behaviour -    Expressive AI focuses on authorship o    Authorial control over behaviour

Power Up: Computer Games and ideology John Dovey?, Helen Kennedy, Seth Giddings, University of Western England

Call for Methodological Clarity -    determine questions we ask and answers we get

what kinds of ideological critique are poss - or useful -  in the (re) emergent studies of play and computer games?

Critique grounded in ideology

Problems -    what might constitute an ideological critique at this point in history? -    How to do this without feeling like we are contributing to moral panic discourses? -    How to do this without trying to sanitise games? o    Defensive response has been to celebrate games -    Do we have to ask the audience (or can we phone a friend) o    Cautious specificity -    Its only a game o    Play exists outside of ideology. •    Plato vs. huizinga •    Play ideological inert, simply exists

Overview of methodologyies

5 framework -    ludic culture o    practice of agon contra play o    beyond notion of postmodernism as playful o    economic effects of globalisation make everyday life more risky o    characteristics of long term benefit of modernism has become more of a gamble (Beck’s risk culture) o    Simulacra (not in Baudrillard terms) •    way of modelling world helps us understand the world? •    A cybernetic problem •    Simulation becomes a way of producing real knowledge •    Simulation has become a significant way of producing knowl •    If play’s neutrality relies on separation from every day life, then play becomes crucial to ideological investigation •    technologically mediated •    increasingly ludic culture -    representation o    most games still use representation to remain contextually aligned with XX of power -    identity o    to read, use text is to do identity work o    concepts of identity and hegemony o    become who we are o    identity as permanently dynamic •    Turkle, etc -    Hegemony o    Power and ideology accustomed to using concept of hegemony to power, without falling into effects thinking o    All texts not function as propganda o    Transgressive pleasures of identity, hegemonist have more complex questions about what is to be done •    Cheating, modding, gender -    play theory o    try to understand what became an underpinning theme of good boys and bad girls, bad play and good play •    Brian Sutton Smith (play comes to us with a rich cultural history •    Unless aware of the questions within them, then will go around in circles

No single methodology

Gladiator, Worker, Operative: The hero of the first person shooter adventure Rune.klevjer@intermedia.uib.no

Technology, Modernity links Detour to bigger questions of ideology

First person shooter – ultimate example of techno-play (leads up-grade race) -    Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Dark Forces, Half Life, Unreal, Golden Eye, Medal of Honor, NOLF, Timesplitters, Red Faction, Halo, James Bond007 -    Debate about ‘adventure’ or ‘military simulator’ (focus on former)

Arena vs the quest Playing the machine -    using world as a metphor or interface Riding the camera-gun -    your vision follows the gun – wherever it is directed o    psycho-analytical dimensions: destruction, phallic -    peculiar set-up is a technological articulation -    goes back to when film was invented, place the camera on a train -    first person shooter is an extension of the ‘look of the machine’ (being a train) -    cultural fascination with moving very fast and destroying eth in your way.

Interested in practice of playing with a machine only

Single player shooter is art, multi-player is sport -    single: quest, -    multi: arena

two types of practices -    being a gladiator (warfare, in classical shooters) o    Roger Callois (dangerous kind of play) •    Mimetic play is ok and vertigo is ok, but combination is shamonistic (trying to put this behind us) o    Combining mimetic play (imaginary) with vertigo

Callouis -    games involving glas, special effects, and ghosts o    “The disconcerting reflections that multiply and distort the shape of one’s body, the yhybrid fauna of embryonic…”

The Carnivalesque and the grotesque body (Bakhtin) -    FPS: The grotesque is the other -    The carnivalesque in a box

This kind of culture has been suppressed by modernity -    Bakhtin celebrates this

Otherside is Civilised worker/soldier

Odysseus (PhD researcher MIT) the Machine-Look

Combination of mythical hero with civilised worker/soldier hero -    techno-festishist …

Relationship to ideology? -    unclear

Technology in the imageof the gun -    Pre-modern and hyper-modern -    A grotesque mirror of civilised modernity -    Celebration? Defiance? Parody?

Absurd celebration of technological power in image of gun, which is always up in your face

Parody of modern technological power

Also vertogenius – machine gun makes you feel XXX

Therapeutic? Critique? (of society)

Feminism ‘in’ and ‘at’ play: female quake players and the politics of subversion Helen Kennedy

A position paper: where I am located in terms of my politics Relationship between play and culture How is this bound up in our other understandings of hegemony and power Transformative power of play and insubordinate pleasures -    contested and tentative authority

Derrida -    declarations are performative (constitute that which they try to describe)

www.chiq.net

Iraq: threat of women as last preserve

Yvonne Tasker’s ‘musclinity’ (cf/ masculinity)

Care for Me: Maintenance Play Mary Flanagan, Hunter College, New York Digital artist interested in themes of the domestic

Aspects of life requiring constant maintenance

When play is no longer fun – relate to sports

Game: Neighbours from Hell

Over 62million neo-pets -    over 60% of owners are women

Conceptual Lens: Doll play in the US (historical use of dolls relates to use of characters in SIMS)

Tendency of people to ‘subvert’ their SIMs

SIMS online – who are you when you are online? Care giving or are you them?

Care giving behaviours

Family Values: Ideology and the SIMS Miguel Sicart, Miguel@itu.dk Interested in Ethics and Technology

Althusser: Ideology -    subconscious structure built on t concrete values and contents of a power apparatus in a specific moment of time -    ideology for t individual, is t set of values with which reality as means of production is represented: t rules that determine t represn of t world

not possible to marry homosexual couples in the game

Antigone, Creon and the non-existence of woman: what we can learn about the failureof the Sims online from reading Jacques Lacan Charles Kriel, Kingston University (also a BBC DJ)

Issues of the uncanny

All drives are virtually death drives -    not to destruction, but backward, restoration of earlier state (inertia) -    each drive pursues its own extinction -    go beyond pleasure principles, joy experienced as suffering

lies at heart of cultural community

Freud: no universal instinct of higher ….

Death drive works for winning for subject as potential immortality

Drive which reflects what freud calls the discovery.

Beyond temporality

Casts us out of what we seek most

All kinds of cultural mediation

Prohibition of incest, no more than a subjective pivot

Conversation: Brian Sutton Smith and Eric Zimmerman

Brian Play as fate, frivolity

Eric -    games considered as play / framed as culture

Need new or different theories of games?

Eric defines play as:

Eric contrasts with Goffmann definition of games: “Matrix of poss events and cast of roles, through whose enactment the even occur….” -    implies fate and drama, but not in Goffmann’s definition

Eric: definition of play not just applied to digital games importance of printing technology in changing nature of games

Brian; Emotions and Brain activity Kinds of emotions asso with games Anger is the kind of emotion that fuels contest Games fuelled by the fantasy of some emotion (mainly anger) Anger is theatre of occasion Definition of contest/game needs a discussion about way in which particular game modulates that emotion (rules, referees, spirit, etc) Use of word playful -    framing of play and spontaneity of play emotion triggered by chemical transmitter -    for play, perhaps seratonin o    ME: unlikely

Many people who play are not playful, but are still playing Lee Barnet -    playful: exuberant Eric: Brian’s ambiguity of play -    play as cultural -    ideology of play rhetoric of play rhetoric of progress as way of denying that play is valuable in and of itself rhetoric of the imaginary

play as brain chemicals useful for designers? Film makers do not design films based upon way in which biology underpins enjoyment of films

Brian: What is constant across different rhetoric

Eric: Include commercial game industry, when saying games are about contestation?

Brian: Interested in what is underlying contest games We are generally collaborative cultures, cannot afford to contest Eric: Are we game developers making mistakes with play?

Brian: Game Researchers are not critical about what they do. Developers are distanced from their emotions Not as dangerous as, say, a football match Literature on children’s engagement with play is that the object is not the?/? Need to work out vocabulary of distance What things remind the child that they are in the play sphere? Normal kids don’t need this, but others might Being attacked for creating an aggressive society, which is untrue

Eric: Earlier, dungeons and dragons, etc were seen in similar way

Brian: Every generation is offended by freedom that their children have Feel that children are being destroyed ‘cultural neuroses’ -    vigilance anxiety: because children become more vigilant, this encourages more anxious vigilance as a whole critics are in the progress rhetoric when people are impoverished, people grow up to be ‘fighters’ games make people feel confident in the face of the perils in which they live none of us really know why we play other pleasures? -    ME: suggestive as instrumentality seems debilitative to his position Play is an uncomfortable thing when you get close to it -    is potentially ‘uncivilised’ Play, Arts, and Religion -    the big worlds play is fun to make us feel better about being in a lousy world consoling phenomena

Eric: Is it useful to reduce play?

Thursday Morning

Pervasive Gaming (THEATRON)

Content creation for pervasive games Staffan Bjork

Some research questions in ubiquitous gaming

Ubiquitous computing field

Pirates!

Can You see me now? Steve Benford (email him for video of the game) Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham

Game of chase Online players access virtual model of a city Can run through city Send text messages Then get chased by people in the city Equipped with hand held GPS Can see where online players are in relation to city Need to understand that if you cross a virtual road, you are actually making somebody cross a real road (online actions have physical effect on somebody on the ground) Staged in sheffield, Rotterdam….

Lessons learned

Evaluation draws on ethnography, discussions with audiences and analysis of system los Experiencing uncertainty (GPS deeply flakey! Errors of 3-300m, not available all the time (signal), -    online players have a mixed experience -    runners constantly battle t technologies runners had an invisibility power -    no. could not always connect (but this became part of game, though some players exploited it, e.g. standing in shaded part of a building lowers signal) four strategies to deal with uncertainty -    remove it (better technology) -    hide it -    reveal it (interfaces which give impression of where good and bad gps is) -    exploit it (make it part of the experience)

people are insured actors! Not for public yet – insurance problem

Uncle Roy all Around you: Blast Teory, MRL, BT Exact, UCL Amanda Oldroyd Amanda.oldroyd@bt.com (ASK FOR HER VIDEO OF UNCLE ROY)

Following on from can you see me now Role: create technology to allow people to experience these new activities

Uncle Roy All Around You Mixed reality, theatre and game experience Players on streets with handheld device, guiding around Westminster Virtual players have representation of streets Have to find uncle roy’s office Once found, asked some questions

End of game, people were asked if they would make a commitment of support to a stranger for 12 months. Over 250 couples agreed to be there for each other

Blur boundaries between game space and physical world

Blurring perceptual boundaries

Major theme is trust -    trust in players, environment, online playters

street players are ISOLATED as a street player (must surrender your belongings)

have to decide whether to trust Roy or online players

invited to places that would not normally go to -    ME: leverage city regeneration?

Engage with world in a new way

Online players have different game experience -    able to monitor and remain anonymous

Pervasive Gaming and Qualitative Social Science Steffen p. Walz, Zurich, Switzerland, steffen.walz@hgkz.dk http://www.madcountdown.com (Cultural anthropologist)

example of a qualitative study utilising pervasive game, custom built on basis of ethnographic studies of a certain environment

to research social relationships of proximity and distance

issues of trust and risk arise when augment everyday life with games

‘MadCountdown’

have to find a bomb in a certain number of hours, within a building

ME: rejects magic circle thesis, but a  weak, seemingly semantic rejection

Distinguish game from ‘physicality’ or ‘real-life’

Methodology: group discussion, log filing, participant observation

5 groups of 4 teams

Content Creation for Pervasive Games Karl-Petter Akesson kale@sics.se Swedish Institute of Computer Science

Background in electrical engineering

Interested in interaction in physical space, but border between virtual and physical

Poss solutions to provide content

Scenes -    have players configure the spaces -    find local relationships between -    elf ears (enhance sound) -    pre-made or player created

artefacts/Props

Computational building blocks

Pervasive Social Games and Learning Frans Mayra

Mobile games Potential for educational purposes as well as entertainment Counteracting towards negative image of videogames, using bodies to their full potential -    (e.g. Dance Dance Revolution) Potential for non-traditional game concepts that break the genre and gameplay boundaries and reach new, non-hardcore-gamer audiences

What research is needed? -    better understanding of various pervasive gameplay dynamics -    implantations that could be evaluated and experimented with -    systematic research frameworks that suit these research purposes o    hermenutic field, need to create something to understand research challenges

-    two such frameworks o    playability analysis o    mobile learning evaluation frameworks (developed in CC-DES and MOBIlearn projects; Tampere)

Morphone project (mobil games in homes)

Edugaming in Finland consortium -    location-aware mobile games and problem-based learning, role playing and team based learning and coordination, use of simulations in professional learning)

Design features of pervasive games Jussi Holopainen, Nokia research Center (Finland)

Competition (Goal-Oriented activity, against system or players) Cooperation (trust, mistrust) Community (we are social beings, situated in a real world) Presence (critical to pervasive games; how structure different levels of presence into game)

Game Playing Communities and Cultural Politics of Gaming (Thursday afternoon)

Andrew McTavish

Access to means of cultural production

Michel de Certeau ‘The Practice of everyday life’’ -    ideology-of-consumption-as-receptacle -    ‘the text has meaning only through its readers it changed along with them’

henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers -    poaching for fan-based production -    exceeds de Certeau’s ‘nomadic’ intertextual reader -    fan-creators contest over production

Consu,ption Bad? Production good?

Matt hills, Fan Cultures -    ‘rigid assumptions that fandom and production are…’

Game Modding -    productive practices that problematize further t dichotomy between bad consumption and good prodn -    modding: people creatinve characteristics of games, skins, etc. (modifications/modifying) -    commercial interests’ response to these productive gaming practices

case study: DOOM Valve and Half-Life -    released in 1998 -    long shelflife and modding community -    commercialised amateur mod o    counter strike o    day of defeat 3.0

Regulating Fan Production -    official modding tools -    end-user license agreements (EULA)

end user license agreements to engines -    define legitimate and illlegitimate uses of mod tools -    defines modding as legitimate -    commoditizing modding itself?

Relationship between game producers and player-producers is contradictory Access to means of prodn Regulated access to means of prodn Game modding can be form of resistance, but also can particupate in t commodification of games and forms of productcive gaming practices

Multi-player first person shooters Uni of Queensland

Interrel between media technology and culture Degree to which game texts and associated technology facilitate culture

Games can be described as co-creative media Neither players nor developers solely responsible for assemblage of game Quake 3 Arena To use must go through Server facility

Something comes out of community, becomes commercialised, then becomes too commercial for the community

Question from Audience: Notion of player problematic here? Surely a player-producer ‘hybrid’ player-creator Unions of Modders??

Answer: There is a hierarchy of player-creators Power-play

ME: this mod lot really does seem like a meaningful practice community

Patches of Peace: Tiny Signs of Agency in Digital Games Cindy Poremba, Simon Fraser University, 2003.

Examines authorship in response to 9-11 as context to examine player authorship

Response  (through games) to 9-11 events rapid and varied Shifting cultural landscape

Player-created artefacts are an integral part of digital games Players can manifest true agency through t authorship of independent

Games malleable and player-defined (de Koven)

Game artifcats reflect reinforce t shared social reality of player-prod community

Primary agency of digital game player is manifest in authorship of game artefacts (adapted from Gell, art and agency?)

“Search for t well player game is what holds t community together. But t freedom to change t game is what gives t community its power’ Bernie De Koven, the Well Played Game

player-created artefacts different from mods, mods are more specific

player guilds and cross-game collectives.

“Pimp daddy” -    everquest, character created a pimping service o    didn’t actually add anything to the game

Velvet Strike -    reframing game space -    instead of shooting, spray paint -    game intervention, critique of games, violence, terrorism -    game space has been transformed -    directed to external audience (activists, artists) o    non playing audience

Tiny Signs of Hope, (download peace) -    no longer online!

Game subculture and effect on player authorship

Ready use of games as co-creative media

Role of player authorship in response to significant cultural events such as 9-11 (11 September)

Games as media have just scratched surface