Wednesday, June 18, 2008

NGRN - Morning Presentations

Olli Leino: Emotions in Play: an existential-phenomenological study

"The dilemma of rational fictional emotions" (Gendler & Kovakovich, 2005)
The strange subject position in games asks for problemization: "Enjoying the fear of being shot at"

- theorize and describe the conditions under which a computer game can be held responsible for its players emotions
- to describe the ways in which features of the computer game medium can be used to elicit emotional experiences in the player

Theoretical framework: game studies, existential phenomenology (Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Solomon)
Method: phenomenological description
Material: Games as played

Phenomenology "Love is the desire to be with the beloved object" (Descartes). Every emotion is also a system of desire and intentions, hopes and wishes, or what I call de ideology of emotions" (Solomon).

Existence-independence: Emotions necessitates a conception about athe object, not the object itself.

Playing = Believing

Emotions transgress the boundaries of the game. The concept of the "magic circle" is not enough.

"The game plays the player" The players have a limited freedom and can only work within the boundaries of the game, but the gamer can also quit the game.

Inger Ekman: Emotional Effects of Sound in Computer Games

From a designer's viewpoint. "Unnecessary" sounds in new items, for instance added sounds in cameras or in the Mighty Mouse. Sounds as indicators of actions, gives feedback to the interaction.

Sounds are elusive, immaterial, momentary. Lack of static representation. Cumbersome analysis and (paper) publishing, esp. non-musical sounds. Difficult to determine the meaning of sound. Nevertheless, sound is now recognized as being of crucial importance to the game experience.

Approaches to Studying Sound. Combining two approaches:
- Design (film sound, industrial sound design, information sonification, auditory interfaces, music research)
- Basic research (theories of emotion, cognitive sciences, psychoacoustics)

Synthesis: Identify design conventions, try to understand/explain why and how they work
Goal: Design tools that allow producing new sound and predicting their effects

Emotions and Sound
Emotional impact only part of our process of meaning-making. What is the meaning of sound? (What we hear depends on how we listen - listening modes. Context influences sound perception - multi-sensory interactions. Peroperties of the listener.) Emotion is seen as one form of meaning that can be extracted in the process of understaning and relating to sound.

Film sound — the most developed tradition of sound design. These ideas influence game sounds. Film sound conventions are easily "read" and understood by gamers.

Film: Completely predefined sequences of events, known temporal structure, emphasis on telling a stroy, one-off events, fixed points fo view and access to story.

Game: More or less open sequences of events, unknown temporal structure, emphasis on supporting action, repetitive action sequences, user action defines point of view.

Two types of Emotion Theories on Film Perception
- Psychoanalytic view: Emotional responses through identification, invoking subconscious mental responses.
- Cognitive appraisal theory: Viewing linked to motivational processes, emotions arise from evaluation of cognitive investment.

Emotional Reactions to Film Sound
Empathetic (understanding and appraisal of fictional events, witness position, sound supporting realism, prerequisite for empathetic emotions) and non-emphatetic emotions (Related to the film as artefact, sensory experences, awe-inspiring). (Tan, Frijda)

Bjarke Liboriussen: Online Worlds Architecture

The experience of place, space, landscaping in online games. The search for "home" and "roots" in a space such as Second Life. People want to be "at home."

Ethnography in textual environments.
1980s - tool perspective
1990s - cultureal contexts (T.L. Taylor's work on Everquest)
2000s - topological turn, focus on space

Architecture theory to study online place.
Body - embodiment, keeping you oriented in space
Map - internal/external representations of the world, facilitating navigation
Landscape -
Building - Architectural, ethnographical
Worldview - How WoW is based on the idea of the "unlimited good." How the world is structured.
What links it all is the word "orientation"

Lennart Nacke: A methodology for Psychophysiological Player Logging

Interdisciplinary game research. Broad perspective from a range of different disciplines. Deeply rooted in cultural studies. Early reflections, humanities approach, qualitative evaluations. The WoW phenomenon: Many researchers describing experiences while playing WoW. Few to no empirical studies.

Comparing qualitative and quantitative research. Argues that qualitative research is subjective on the part of the researcher, whereas quantitative research builds on both subjective and objective material/results. Easier to present the results to game designer as statistics.

Scientific method: Formulate Theory Design experiments -> create stimuli -> conduct experiments -> construct validity -> analyze.
Design Experiments: Before: compare two identical situations, control conditions, randomizations, null hypothesis
Game Design Considerations. Different levels build in Half-Life.
Measurements: EEG, ECG, EMG, GSR, respiration, eye tracking, interaction logging, pre and post game surveys.

- Scientific method allows design of game experiments.
- Game design and player experience are co-dependent.
- Psychophysiologicala mesasurements allow an objective view on game experience and fun.

Anne-Marie Skriver Hansen: The "Mood Modules:" Interconnected Toy Modules for Spontaneous Creation of Play and Learning Environments

Design-oriented goal. Aims to take the possibilities and tools inherent in the computer and shape them as a play tool. Related: Nintendo Wii, Eyetoy Kinetics, Lego Mindstorms, PicoCrickets, Topobo, Body Games (interactive playground, Kompan), Sprock-it, Lambent Reactive, C. Breazeal's research project, robot Leonardo.

Play theory: Jean Piaget -> Marvin Minsky. Seymour Papert, Lego Mindstroms, Leonardo, Brian Sutton-Smith. Spectrum between learning and social relationships. Attempting to get away from the object focus.
Music therapy: Tony Wigram, Marc Leman. Anthonio Camurri.

Play Design. Improvisation -> syncronization -> "the ensemble." How the group evolves. Group of children aged 6-12.

Focus Areas:
Social and physical learning through play
Play Design
Industrial design
Aesthetic experimentation

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