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The Current State of Game Research


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Title: The Current State of Game Research

The Current State of Game Research
Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Ph.d student
IT-University Copenhagen, Denmarkemail
le/sen http// Conference
Video Games text, narrative, and playInstitute
of Education, University London27th June, 2003
To draw a parallel with the history of art,
videogames are, at the very least, still waiting
for photography to be invented, perhaps even for
the Renaissance to happen. EDGE (DEC. 1999)
Background and perspective
Masters Degree in Psychology (bachelor and master
on computer games). PhD Student at
IT-University of Copenhagen, Member of Center
for Computer Games Research Copenhagen. Member
of Board for Digital Game Research Association
(DiGRA). Co-founder Game-research.comReviewer
Game-studies, Game-research, AOIR, DAC Editor
Ivory Tower IGDA/DiGRAConsulting Framfab,
Incircle, EQ, Game-Research Written two Danish
books and several articles on computer games and
learning. Perspective on the research is from
within humanistics and social science. Nordic
countries leading in some ways, and Academic
Brief history of game research
1970s The early years Nobody really talks
about research computer games yet the study of
games as such and use for educational purposes is
however booming. 1980s The beginning
Research into beneficial and especially harmful
effects. Triggered by the growing popularity of
computer games and public debate. The majority
of research resources go into answering questions
Do computer games increase aggression, violence,
asocial behaviour, learning etc.?Do computer
games support stereotyped gender perception?
Brief history of game research
1990s The seed is sown Research broadens with
academics flocking from all disciplines, the
numbers increasing up through the late 1990s
with conferences, magazines, courses and
web-sites popping up. The focus of the research
is broadening with every given subject with the
slightest connection to computer games applying
their own theories to the field. 2000
Growing all men to battle stations
A beginning qualification and specialization of
the field through university courses, ph.d.
education, basic framework/structures, and
establishment of peer-reviewed journals. The
focus of research is still controlled by
researchers early academic training but times are
changing. The challenge is coherence!
Brief history of game research
Two different paradigms, both approach computer
games as far back as the 1980s Simulation
Gaming Games, simulations, education, structural
properties, limitations, learning starting
point in traditional games/simulations.
Computer game studies Game design,
narratology, ludology, hypertext, learning,
violence starting point in computer games.
Cross-communication sparse Historical
awareness limitedAwareness of canons and
classics missing Methods weak and in development
My contribution to further coherence and
Brief history of game research
Some areas are beginning to crystallize.
Distinctions are made on the basis of game
research, and not fitted into existing research
areas. The Effects of Games (psychology,
education, social, ethnography,...) Aesthetics
in Games(narrative, interactivity, visual
aspects, art, language, themes/genres...) Cultura
l issues of Games(gender, identity, violence,
ideology, communities, nationality,
regulations...) Games in themselves
(definitions of games, gameplay, structure,
time, multiplayer, platforms, case
studies...) Inspired by Susana Tosca (2002)
Light houses in game research
Computer Game Centres Games-To-Teach
(MIT) Laboratory for Advanced Computing
Initiatives (Georgia Tech) Center for Computer
Games Research Copenhagen (Denmark) Play Research
Group (Sweden) Zero Game (Sweden) IC CAVE
(Scotland)Game Research Lab (Finland) . Compute
r Game academic sites Game-resear
uk .
Light houses in game research
Computer Game Journals Simulation Gaming An
Interdisciplinary Journal of Theory, Practice and
Research Game studies the international journal
of computer game research International Journal
of Intelligent Games Simulation . Computer
Game Conferences CGDC (Copenhagen,
Tampere) DIGRA (Utrecht) COSIGN (Surrey,
Amsterdam, Augsburg, Middlesbrough) Manchester,
Bristol, London, Edinburgh (UK) Chicago, Lodz,
Edmonton .
Industry academia
Rationale for research Must research but
usable? Not necessarily, but it can be Applied
But it is. In-depth and innovative Long-term
perspective Experimenting Non-commercial
No man is an island
General impression of industry attitude Whats
it in for us? Why bother? Wish better balance
Commitment, time, and drive We need good stories
Industry academia
Examples few out there! Are some collaboration
on practical experience for students, and
discussions at conferences but real collaboration
on research projects are rare. Games-to-Teach
Project MIT develop and produce 10 prototypes
for educational games in partnership with
Microsoft, which is then evaluated. Mogame -
Wireless Gaming Solutions for the Future Tampere
University, Game Research Lab have started
colloboration with Nokia Research Center,
Veikkaus (the National Lottery), Telia Sonera
(Telecom) Codetoys (mobile games developer) on
future gaming solutions.
Industry academia
  • Barriers in game industry
  • Self-taught one title below the belt ? shut out
    a lot of knowledge
  • Theoretical extensions limited ? knowledge
    sharing hard
  • Growing pains ? new structure, project
    management, strategies.
  • Communication/terminology limited ? develop
    language and concepts
  • Tensions between developer and publisher ? hard
    to reach publishers
  • All is changing maturing
  • On the horizon - Collaboration areas
  • Concrete Practical experience, seminars,
    education content
  • General knowledge, methods, terminology,
    qualified/well-rounded candidates, historical
    awareness, innovation, acceptance, seriousness.
  • Discussion is this enough, realistic?