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Online Games

Motivations for Participating in Gamified Citizen Science Projects

The final speaker in this WebSci 2016 session is Ramine Tinati, whose focus is on citizen science platforms. Citizen science itself has been around for hundreds of years, but more recent developments in online crowdsourcing techniques have enabled even greater mass participation in such scientific activities; one early success in this was Zooniverse, which asks users for help in classifying galaxy types.

Funding and Pricing Challenges for Indie Games Developers

The next speakers at AoIR 2015 are Chris Paul and Mia Consalvo, who shift our interest towards games. What is a game, in the first place? Game styles now vary wildly, and address many different communities of gamers; this is a matter of constitutive rhetoric as the language being used brings distinctions into existence through repetition.

The Emergent Rules of Games Spectatorship

The next speaker at this AoIR 2013 panel is T.L. Taylor, focussing here on spectatorship in gaming. The mix of playing and watching has always been central to gaming as a social activity, but game studies has always privileged the hands on the controller; spectatorship has traditionally also relied on physical co-presence (e.g. at gaming championships).

But now there are sites like Twitch, which enable gamers to make their private play public as a livestream, and even to make money in doing so, as a spinoff from The site currently has some 600 unique broadcasters per month, with some 45 million viewers per month and around 1.5 hours of play watched per day (hope I have those stats right). On Twitch, viewers can choose by game title, player, or channel, and players can trigger occasional commercial breaks in order to generate revenue.

User-Led Innovation: The Case of Crytek

The next speaker at Challenge Social Innovation is Birgit Blättel-Mink, who focusses on the case of German games developer Crytek (which developed Far Cry, Crysis, and other games), based in Frankfurt, which engages with its users as innovators. The company has some 600 employees distributed across five international studios and two distribution centres; its core product is the Cry games engine.

Crytek’s user community includes casual gamers (on social networks), hardcore gamers (in the Crytek Mycrisis community and other online communities), and modders who generate modified games modules and take part in various specialist communities. Casual gamers are engaged with for marketing and promotion, hardcore gamers participate in quality control, bug reports, and bug fixing, and modders drive user-led innovation.

Gaming Capital in Social Gaming

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is Olli Sotamaa, whose interest is in social games and gaming capital. Olli is a social gamer himself (on FrontierVille and Mafia Wars), as are other presenters in this session – these activities are publicly announced on Facebook and other social network Websites, generating what can be described as gaming capital (a special form of social capital); how does this operate in relation to social games, then?

Playing Mafia Wars, for example, isn’t a particularly exciting or deep gaming experience, but it is still very popular; what is of most interest here are the in-game achievements. Games like it are based on a freemium model that attracts as many players as possible, involves them as deeply as possible, and attempts to make at least some of the play. A key design driver is to support sociability and virality, to make the game a natural part of the social economy.

Cooperative and Competitive Social Gaming Models

The next speaker in this session at AoIR 2010 is Luca Rossi, who begins by highlighting the great diversity in computer gaming, and the substantial social aspects of shared gaming experiences. Indeed, creating sociable gaming experiences is now an important aim for the industry.

And yet, playing on Facebook also remains a solitary experience to some extent – you’re playing with others, perhaps, but at a distance. Friends in such games are positioned as resources, who variously can be played with or against. Social relationships are used as games resources, and it is possible that specific game structures work better with specific underlying social structures.

The Emergence of Social Games

And we’re in the final session of AoIR 2010 – it’s been a fun and very busy conference. I might be a little distracted in my coverage of this session, as the Hannover 96 – FC Köln game is on at the moment as well… 2:0 at the moment!

We’re starting with Lisbeth Klastrup, who notes that gaming on Facebook has really taken off in recent times; the Farmville application has been most popular so far, with millions of users. Studying social media network games has become an growing sub-set of digital games research, too.

Transnational Tendencies in Gaming

The next speaker at AoIR 2010 is TL Taylor, whose interest is in game culture – an area where transnational connections are now also prevalent. Where games consoles used to be strongly region-controlled, this has loosened considerably – games bought abroad will now often also play in a different geographical region, even if the same is not necessarily true yet for DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. But in accessing and downloading games, for example, users are often still required to identify their location (or geolocated by their IP address).

Games companies themselves are also reinscribing regional specificity into the gameplay itself now – online players are often regionally segregated onto different game servers (for technical reasons, in the first place, but also through language and other choices). Interactions between users from different regions and nations (such as debates over what languages to use) also highlight a relocalisation of game participation.

Researching Entertainment Experiences

The next presenter in this session at ICA 2010 is CarrieLynn Reinhard, whose interest is in human sensemaking when engaging in virtual worlds. Lab-based experimental approaches to this are sometimes criticised for stressing internal over external validity, and for being unable to prove causality without the black box of the experimental setup - they rely on holding a number of variables constant in order to observe the effects of a predetermined, measurable variable in order to determine causality.

Political Activism through Facebook and Online Games in Singapore

The final speaker in this EDEM 2010 session is Marko Skoric, who shifts our focus to Singapore and away from explicitly political spaces: rather, his interest is in investigating emerging platforms for online sociability and entertainment - like Facebook and (online) games. Such spaces constitute a third place for their users to gather.

Facebook has a substantial civic potential, and several studies have documented that potential, focussing both on everyday generic use of Facebook and on specific political pages within it. Similarly, various civic activities are happening in online games and immersive 3D environments; such games can also act as labs for practicing civic skills - through deliberately serious games but also through others.


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