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The role of visual grammar and player perception


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The role of visual grammar and player perception

  1. 1. The Role Of Visual Grammar and Player Perception In An Online Game Banphot Nobaew Faculty of Humanities E-learning Lab - Center for User-driven Innovation, Learning and Design Aalborg University, 2015 1
  2. 2. Agenda • What is World of Warcraft? • Why did I choose this topic? • Research Objectives and Research Questions • Theoretical Inspiration – Defining ‘Grammar’ and ‘Visual Grammar’ – Theoretical Foci • Developing a Visual Grammar – Defining Units of Analysis – Collecting Research Data – Analysis • Site of the Game • Site of the Player • Breaking the Rules • Conclusion 2
  3. 3. What is World of Warcraft? 3
  4. 4. What is World of Warcraft? • What is World of Warcraft? – It is a ‘massively multiplayer online role-playing game’, or MMORPG which was introduced to the public in November 2004. – In 2010, the Annual Report of Blizzard Entertainment reported that there were twelve million subscribers. – The stories and visual design draw on mythology, ancient history, science fiction, eastern cultures and literary works such as Lord of the Rings. • What happen in World of Warcraft? – Some couples got married because of the game. – Many schools used this game to teach students about the literacy. – Many people get addicted to this game. – People sell and buy the game objects aim to complete the quests. – People spent a lot of money and times for this game. 4
  5. 5. Why did I choose this topic? • Positive feedback from the digital documentary film project which was tested on school students. The film was made by integrating real moving images and computer graphics. • My previous research in rural northern Thailand investigated learning and communication processes; it revealed a significant correlation between narrative structures and multimedia structures. • Meanings are conveyed most effectively through well-designed integration of storyline and media. • Games have been adapted for education, medicine, training, creative arts, design, business, etc. These games are a new digital medium; games have been adapted in different ways, for example: for learning and online socializing. • Games adopt styles, techniques and devices from other media; they also borrow visual grammar from all other visual arts. All visual forms and functions have been imitated in games. 5
  6. 6. Research Objectives and Research Questions 6
  7. 7. Research Objectives The aim of my research is to provide designers of digital games and digital educational materials with a heuristic approach to visual grammar for the creation of a visual language. Research Outcome The end result of this study will be to propose a fundamental visual grammar for analyzing three-dimensional online games. The visual grammar can be adapted to investigate all online games and other interactive media and, additionally, be tool for game designers and in educational applications. 7
  8. 8. Research Questions In this study, I focus on visual perceptions and visual experiences of players rather than on benefits that they may derive. We need to understand how games operate. • How does the player make sense of visual objects and gameplay? • How are the meanings of visual objects produced and consumed? 8
  9. 9. A Further Research Question • What is the grammar of a three-dimensional online multiplayer role-play game and how does the game create players’ visual perceptions? This question leads to three sub-questions: – How do the visual elements of game design express meaning and how are meanings conveyed to players? – How do players perceive and conceive meanings in elements of visual design and interpret them during gameplay? – What is the visual grammar of game? 9
  10. 10. Theoretical Foundations 10
  11. 11. Defining ‘Grammar’ • ‘Visual’- originally referred to a beam imagined to proceed from the eye and make vision possible (Oxford Dictionary). • ‘Grammar’ has several meanings: – The whole system and structure of a language or of languages in general, usually taken as consisting of syntax and morphology (including inflexions) and sometimes also phonology and semantics. – A particular analysis of the system and structure of language or of a specific language. – A set of actual or presumed prescriptive notions about correct use of a language. – The basic elements of an area of knowledge or skill. – Computing a set of rules governing what strings are valid or allowable in a language or text. (oxforddictionaries.com) 11
  12. 12. Reading Images: the Grammar of Visual Design by Kress and Leeuwen (2006) provides a framework for analysis of social interaction between audience, artwork and advertising; this is adapted here to study and record interaction between player and online game. David Buckingham (2010) mentions visual language of games and establishes a framework for game literacy with four components: • Representation is realism through graphics, sounds and verbal language; it incorporates characters, virtual identities of social groups and game genre. • Production comprises auteur, technology and software, game designers and production team and the relationship of games with other media. • Audience the experience and pleasure of playing as derived from rules and structures. • Language includes:  The functions of verbal text (audio and written), and non-verbal text such as still and moving images, sounds and music.  The distinctive properties of game genres.  The characteristics and organization of space and time in different game genres, and the role of player in the game landscape.  Game properties such as rules, rewards, objectives, obstacles and other (Buckingham 2010:66-67). Defining ‘Visual Grammar’ 12
  13. 13. ‘Visual Grammar’ in this study ‘Visual language’ has been defined by various scholars; definitions relevant to this research are: A ‘system where basic elements are interrelated according to certain laws or regularities’ (Saint-Martin 1990) ‘It is based on the tight integration of words and visual elements’ (Horn 1998) My definition is ‘the principles and rules of a visual game landscape (the game territory and environment) for composing the forms of visual elements and structuring the meaning of perceptual experience. It creates a system of visual communication in a particular context’. 13
  14. 14. Theoretical Foci The distinctive sites and theoretical practices applied in this research are: (a)Site of the Game – the analytical framework applied in this research was a combination of the work of these scholars: Saint Martin’s Visual Semiotics (1990); Arnheim’s Theory of Visual Perception (1974); and gestalt theory from many writers. (b)Site of Player – the analytical framework drawn on Halliday’s Social Semiotics (1985); Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Norris & Jones (2005), Kress & van Leeuwen (2001) and Rose (2001); van Leeuwen’s modes of analysis of speech, music and sound (1999); Martinec’s gestures (2000); and Norris’s interactions (2004). (c)Site of production – not of primary concern in this research except insofar as the sites of game and player interact with it. (d)Interaction between the sites of game and player. The two main fields of study share a common origin: Hjelmslev’s (1943) ‘Plane of Language’ has two components: Content Plane and Expression Plane. The content and expression sides of language in general are referred to as planes (ibid. 59). 14
  15. 15. Developing a Visual Grammar 15
  16. 16. Defining Units of Analysis Rose (2001), and Gillian and Rose (2007) propose site modalities and methodology for interpretation of visual material; the site modalities are the site of production; the site of image; and site of audiences. Rose’s ideas can be adapted for this study to define sites and modalities in World of Warcraft. (i) The site of the game - interpretation of visual signs and their composition for meanings (ii) The site of the player - analysis of player reactions: gestures and verbal reactions whilst playing and interviews after playing. The way that a player learns from, interacts and participates within the gameplay (iii) Interactions – interaction between players and player and the game. 16
  17. 17. Sites of Modalities and Methods of Game Interpretation SiteoftheGame 17
  18. 18. Sites of Modalities and Methods of Game Interpretation SiteoftheGame 18
  19. 19. Collecting Research Data 1. Game Design and Production: Background Information Data type: a) Game development process, b) Game concept and story design, c) Core design and game play, d) Conceptual design and detailed design. e) Other Research tools: - Interview - Sound recording - Photo shooting -Video ethnography 2. Online research: Site of the Game - joining the online game: online ethnography - Capture Game data 3. Gameplayers: Site of the Player and Interaction Data type: visual language data – collecting data from gameplayers: ‘how are they reading the game elements?’ Research tools: - Interview - Gameplay captured through screen and video capturing. - Sound recording -Video ethnography 19
  20. 20. Research Process to develop the Visual Grammar Framing the theoretical and analytical tools Game online research The first data observation and interviewing with game designers and gameplayers 1st Data analyzing Reframing the theoretical and analytical tools Developing the model of a visual grammar The second data observation and interviewing with game designers and gameplayers 2nd Data analyzing Testing the model of the visual grammar Developing the visual grammar Framework of Visual Grammar 20
  21. 21. Two sites of analysis Site of the Game Site of the Player 21
  22. 22. Site of the Game 22
  23. 23. Theoretical Frameworks for Site of the Game The Theoretical Foundations of Visual Grammar Saussure Signs Sign Distinctions Signifier Form Substance Signified Form Substance Hjemslev Planes – equivalent to Saussure’s signs Four strata – equivalent to Saussure’s distinctions Expression plane - signifier Expression-form Expression-substance Content plane - signified Content-form Content-substance Eco Sign – equivalent to Hjemslev’s plane Planes – equivalent to Hjemslev’s srata Expression-form Expression-plane Content-plane Content-form Expression-plane Content-plane Arnheim Principles of Visual Peception Balance Shape Form Growth Space Light Colour Movement Dynamics Expression 23
  24. 24. Theoretical Frameworks for Site of the Game Saint-Martin Concepts Levels of variables Variables groups Distinct categories Basic plane – two dimensional The primary level of variables – coloremes Plastic variables Texture colour Conceptual variables Dimension Boundaries Vectoriality Implantation or position The second level of variables – syntactics Virtual cube – constructed from basic plane – three dimensional The primary level of variables – coloremes Plastic variables Texture colour Conceptual variables Dimension Boundaries Vectoriality Implantation or position The second level of variables – syntactics Environment – constructed from basic plane and virtual cube – multi dimensional The primary level of variables – coloremes Plastic variables Texture colour Conceptual variables Dimension Boundaries Vectoriality Implantation or position The second level of variables – syntactics 24
  25. 25. Screen Analysis 25
  26. 26. Developing Visual Grammar Site of Game Game-content Plane (basic plane, virtual cube, and environment plane) The primary level: Colorematic Phonological: Visual Variables on the Basic plane Game-expression Plane - Visual Rules - Visual Operators The second level: Syntactic By Syntax Operators of visual language Visual Perception Approach and Gestalt Theory 26
  27. 27. Game-content Plane Concept of ‘Basic Plane’ • Primary Visual Elements • Secondary Visual Elements 27
  28. 28. Primary Visual Elements Plane Visual Elements Content Plane Planes Properties Attributes Definitions of Attributes Primary point shape scale colour line thick thin colour hue purity shade darkness (by mixing black) tint lightness (by mixing white) value brightness 28
  29. 29. Secondary Visual Elements Plane Visual Elements Content Plane Planes Properties Attributes Definitions of Attributes Secondary shape type size space leveling and sharpening similarities and differences form size scale colour dimension shape space spacing third dimension relative size and position perspective texture size scale value light range colour direction intensity placement quality and quantity motivation purpose sound volume or dynamic rhythm and metre tempo level or speed form random sequence of music pitch transposition Shape and Form 29
  30. 30. Game-expression Plane Visual Principles (Art Theory)  Balance  Emphasis  Movement or Rhythm  Dynamics  Perspective Plane Visual eEements Content Plane Planes Properties Attributes Definitions of Attributes Expression Plane Rules Visual Principles balance emphasis movement or rhythm dynamics perspectives Syntactic Rules basic laws of visual perception laws of grouping principles of composition principles of visual interaction interactivity and game mechanics Rule 1: The Basic Laws of Visual Perception – fundamental rules of visual design Rule 2: The Laws of Visual Grouping – objects are visually systematized into groups. Groups are formed from objects which share visual elements and properties. Rule 3: Composition Principles – a guide to integration of all visual elements and operators and other components of the game including storyline and gameplay Rule 4: The Principle of Visual Interactions – interactions between player and the game. Rule 5: Interactivity and Game Mechanics – Interactivity encourages players to continue playing; gameplay, however, is systemized and controlled by the ‘game mechanics.’ Syntactic Rules - the Rules of Visual Syntax (Gestalt theory and Visual Perception) 30
  31. 31. The diagram of visual grammar and game interaction Visual Grammar of the WoW game Game-content Plane (basic plane, virtual cube, and environmental plane) Visual Elements: - The primary visual elements - The secondary visual elements Game-expression Plane Visual Operators (Visual Syntactic) - Five Operators Visual Rules (The Rules of Visual Syntax) Visual Composition Visual landscape 31
  32. 32. The Site of Player and Interaction 32
  33. 33. Player Perspectives In Three-dimensional Online Games (I) Social Semiotics (Halliday‘s concept): the three components of Systematic Function Theory were adapted as follows for this study to define modes of the gameplay and player interaction. • Field of Game Discourse – applied to gameplay activities in both real and virtual worlds. • Tenor of Game Discourse – applied to profiles of the players such as gender, skill levels and so on, and to relationships between players and their roles. • Mode of Game Discourse – applied to interaction between player and the game and between players including dialogue, gestures, movement; and symbolism such as visual elements. These are used to define the modes of gameplay and player interaction. 33
  34. 34. (II) Multimodal interaction (Norris’s concept) of two components is integrated into the analysis of interaction to investigate a cohesive chain of action between modes. • Lower-Level Action – the smallest interactional unit of meaning • Higher-Level Action – a multiplicity of chains of lower-level actions bracketed by opening and closing This is used to define the cohesive chains between modes. 34
  35. 35. Gameplay Workshop 35
  36. 36. Interviews with Players after Gameplay Open-question interviews with gameplayers whilst watching and analyzing their own gameplay 36
  37. 37. Mapping the site of player and the site of game 37
  38. 38. Analytical Methodology for Site of the Player 38
  39. 39. The analytical methodology was set up in five stages. These stages are constructed from WoW literature online and from several other sources such as official game manuals. Stage 1: Conceptualisation – the nature and characteristics of the game (to be adapted Halliday framework) Stage 2: Categorisation and Quantification (to be adapted Halliday framework) Stage 3: Analysis of Gameplay to Define Interaction (to be adapted Norris’s concept ) Stage 4: Game Literacy Stage 5: Interconnection Between Modes (Norris’s concept) 39
  40. 40. Conceptualise • Game concept • Features • Gameplay Categorize and Quantify Modes -modes of game components and elements Investigate Game Mechanics from Gameplay Investigate Game Activities and Symbolism (Visual Design) Investigate Player Interaction and Experience Analyse Game Literacies • Learning • Skills/Training • Perspectives Examine Interconnections between Modalities of Game Components -Facial expressions - Head Movement - Gaze - Body Movement -Proxemics -Self-speaking -Yell -Laugh Physical Space Virtual Space (Gamescape) Player Players Storyline Quest stories Sounds Visual Game Objects -Props - Sets - Interface, Navigators - Game Objects -Avatar, NPCs Text Game mechanics Interactions Analytical Methodology for Analyse Player Experience in Online Games Halliday theory Norris concept 40
  41. 41. Interaction between the Site of the Game and the Site of the Player 41
  42. 42. Integrating Player Perceptions Into Visual Grammar Of Online Games Visual Components Sites & Interaction Research Approaches Game Interaction Player Multimodal Analysis Visual Semiotics and Art Theory Visual Elements  × × ×  Visual Principles  × × ×  Visual Operators 1.Basic Laws of Visual Perception      2.Laws of Visual Grouping  × × ×  3.Composition Principles  × × ×  4.Principle of Visual Interaction      5.Interactivity and Game Mechanics      42
  43. 43. Diagram of Visual Grammar (site of the game) and Game Interaction (site of the player) The visual Elements: - The primary visual elements - The secondary visual elements The visual Operators: Balance, Emphasis, Movement or Rhythm, Dynamics, and Perspective The visual Rules: Rules of Visual Syntax - The Basic Laws of Visual Perception - The Laws of Grouping - Composition Principle - Visual Interactions Principle - Interactivity and Game mechanics The Game World The Macro Visual DesignThe Micro Visual Design Gameplay or Interactions 43
  44. 44. Breaking the Rules 44
  45. 45. Breaking the Rules: During play, players have to interpret multiple texts, written, visual and sound through interaction. Visual interpretation can be erroneous, caused by the visual grammar itself, player experience or devices. Misinterpretation can arise for reasons such as: • unbalanced visual design with, for example, vivid colours or oversized objects. 45
  46. 46. Breaking the Rules: (continue) • visual clues which do not provide enough detail or information: there is no prominent clue; the player cannot see the clue properly. • objects are arranged too densely and superimposed, causing problems of selection and slowing the progress of the game. 46
  47. 47. Conclusion 47
  48. 48. Interconnections between Modalities in the Virtual World and the Real World Visual Objects Players Gameplay Experience 48
  49. 49. In summary • My visual grammar can inform the design of game. • My visual grammar can inform game studies. • My visual grammar can be used to interpret the online game and other digital media. 49
  50. 50. Thank you 50
  51. 51. References Arnheim, R., 1974. Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye-the New Version-Expanded and Rev. Ed, University of California Press. B. Hardt, M., 2010. Michael B. Hardt : Aesthetics, semiotics and visual communication. Available at: http://www.michael-hardt.com/Professor/aesthetics.htm [Accessed March 15, 2013]. Baldry, A.P., 2004. Phase and transition, type and instance: patterns in media texts as seen through a multimodal concordancer. In K. L. O’Halloran, ed. Multimodal discourse analysis: Systemic-functional perspectives. Continuum Intl Pub Group, pp. 83–108. Buckingham, D., 2006. Defining digital literacy: What do young people need to know about digital literacy. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 4(1), pp.263–276. Buckingham, David, 2010. Einleitung: Medien und Bildung im dramatischen kulturellen Wandel. In B. Bachmair, ed. Medienbildung in neuen Kulturräumen. pp. 59– 71. Calabrese, O., 2011. The bridge: suggestions about the meaning of a pictorial motif. Journal of Art Historiography, 5. Eco, U., 1979. A theory of semiotics, Indiana University Press. Eco, U., 1980. Function and sign: The semiotics of architecture. Signs, symbols and architecture, pp.11–69. Goodman, N., 1976. Languages of art: An approach to a theory of symbols, Hackett Publishing Company. Halliday, M.A.K. & Ruqaiya Hasan, 1985. K and Hasan, R.(1985). Language Context and Text: Aspects of Language in a Social Semiotic Perspective. Victoria: Deakin university press. Kenyon, S.F.G., 1909. Aristotle on the Athenian Constitution, G. Bell and sons. Kress, G.R. & Van Leeuwen, T., 2006. Reading images: The grammar of visual design, Routledge. Van Leeuwen, T., 1999. Speech, music, sound. Van Leeuwen, T. & Jewitt, C., 2010. Handbook of visual analysis, Sage Publications Ltd. Mann, D., 2010. Gestalt Therapy 100 Key Points & Techniques., Hoboken: Taylor & Francis. Available at: http://public.eblib.com/EBLPublic/PublicView.do?ptiID=574588 [Accessed March 13, 2013]. Martinec, R., 1998. Cohesion in action. Semiotica, 120(1-2), pp.161–180. Martinec, R., 2000. Types of process in action. SEMIOTICA-LA HAYE THEN BERLIN-, 130(3/4), pp.243–268. Nöth, W., 1990. Handbook of semiotics, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. O’Toole, M., 1994. The language of displayed art, Leicester Univ Pr. Rock, I. & Palmer, S., 1990. The legacy of Gestalt psychology. Scientific American, 263(6), pp.84–90. Rose, G., 2001. Visual methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual materials, Sage Publications Ltd. Saint-Martin, F., 1990. Semiotics of visual language, Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Saussure, F., 1974. Course in. General Linguistics, 191(6). Saussure, F., 1916. Course in general linguistics, ed. by Charles Bally, Albert Sechehaye, and Albert Riedlinger, tr. by Wade Baskin, 1959. New York: Philosophical Library. Sebeok, T.A., 2001. Signs: An introduction to semiotics, University of Toronto Press. Stenglin, M.K., 2004. Packaging curiosities: Towards a grammar of three-dimensional space. University of Sydney. Theo Van Leeuwen, 2004. Ten Reasons Why Linguists Should Pay Attention to Visual Communication. In P. Levine & R. Scollon, eds. Discourse and technology: Multimodal discourse analysis. Georgetown Univ Pr. www.michael-hardt.com/MichaelHardt/conferences.htm 51