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Progress Wars: Idle Games and the Demarcation of "Real Games"

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My talk from DiGRA FDG 2016: Analyzing idle games through the theoretical lenses of “game aesthetics” and “boundary work”, I explore how game makers intentionally or unintentionally partake in working the boundaries of “real” games.

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Progress Wars: Idle Games and the Demarcation of "Real Games"

  1. 1. Sebastian Deterding (@dingstweets) Digital Creativity Labs, University of York DiGRA/FDG 2016, August 3, 2016 progress wars Idle Games and the Demarcation of “Real Games”
  2. 2. we live in a time where some reject existing notions of “games” or “gamers” …
  3. 3. … while others fiercly defend the boundaries of “Real Gamestm”
  4. 4. consalvo and paul presciently observed this process with facebook games.
  5. 5. as did bateman with game scholars & designers: “ontology entails value theory.”
  6. 6. notably, they don’t talk about “them.” #GG
  7. 7. they talk about “us.”
  8. 8. to social constructivists, this is neither new nor game-specific.
  9. 9. to social constructivists, this is neither new nor game-specific.
  10. 10. How – through what practical and rhetorical work – do game makers and scholars maintain or extend the boundary of “games”? research question How – through what practical and rhetorical boundary work – do game makers maintain or extend the boundary of “games”?
  11. 11. case study: idle games
  12. 12. rpg progress mechanics, compound interest, grinding, and “virtual skill” resource (xp, loot, …) source (skill, buff, production, …) “mindless” clicking/time
  13. 13. the three stages of idle games. 1. Boundary-drawing parody 2. Boundary-blurring experiment 3. Boundary-extending genre
  14. 14. <1> boundary-drawing parody
  15. 15. not games: metagames
  16. 16. progress quest, eric fredricksen, 2002: against mmoprg progress/autocombat
  17. 17. progress quest, eric fredricksen, 2002: against mmoprg progress/autocombat
  18. 18. progress quest, eric fredricksen, 2002: against mmoprg progress/autocombat
  19. 19. statbuilder (classic), 2008/9: against rpg progress mechanics
  20. 20. statbuilder (classic), 2008/9: against rpg progress mechanics
  21. 21. statbuilder (classic), 2008/9: against rpg progress mechanics
  22. 22. achievement unlocked, john cooney, 2008: against achievement systems
  23. 23. achievement unlocked, john cooney, 2008: against achievement systems
  24. 24. progress wars, jacob skjerning, 2010: against facebook games
  25. 25. progress wars, jacob skjerning, 2010: against facebook games
  26. 26. progress wars, jacob skjerning, 2010: against facebook games
  27. 27. cow clicker, ian bogost, 2010: against facebook games & gamification
  28. 28. cow clicker, ian bogost, 2010: against facebook games & gamification
  29. 29. cow clicker, ian bogost, 2010: against facebook games & gamification
  30. 30. the obdurate audience
  31. 31. cow clicker, 2010: ironic, meta-ironic, and … serious play
  32. 32. cow clicker, 2010: ironic, meta-ironic, and … serious play
  33. 33. progress wars, 2010: distancing derision
  34. 34. <2> boundary-blurring experiment
  35. 35. candy box, aniwey, 2013
  36. 36. candy box, aniwey, 2013
  37. 37. candy box, 2013: baffled enjoyment
  38. 38. candy box, 2013: differentiated appreciation
  39. 39. candy box, 2013: differentiated appreciation
  40. 40. candy box, 2013: differentiated appreciation
  41. 41. candy box: unironic theorycrafting
  42. 42. cookie clicker, julien thiennot, 2013
  43. 43. “pointless experiments”
  44. 44. non-derisive, curious exploration
  45. 45. strategy guides
  46. 46. optimiser tools
  47. 47. speedruns
  48. 48. autoclickers
  49. 49. twitch streamers, complete with fundraisers
  50. 50. a game, not a game parody
  51. 51. <3> boundary-extending genre
  52. 52. clicker heroes, playsaurus, 2014
  53. 53. clicker heroes, playsaurus, 2014
  54. 54. optimisation as new/old form of gameplay
  55. 55. clicker heroes, playsaurus, 2014
  56. 56. a game, not a game parody
  57. 57. genre category gets implemented/institutionalised
  58. 58. industry appreciation talk
  59. 59. industry appreciation talk
  60. 60. industry design talk
  61. 61. industry analysis talk
  62. 62. summary 1. Idle games began as ironic boundary-drawing parodies that defended a challenge aesthetic against mmorpgs, achievement systems, facebook games, and gamification (2002-10). 2. They morphed into boundary-blurring experiments that curiously explored the appeal of incremental mechanics (2013). 3. They solidified into a boundary-extending genre with game makers talking normally about their business opportunities, audiences, and design, and used an institutionalised genre label (2014+).
  63. 63. sebastian@codingconduct.cc @dingstweets codingconduct.cc thank you.

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