The gaming industry and the concept of gamification have altered the way many developers and users approach interactive products. As social gaming demographics expand to what was previously considered “casual” audiences, more users expect an enjoyable experience from their digital applications and games. Developers now request more detailed subjective descriptions of satisfaction and the player experience from user-experience (UX) practitioners. Focusing on how fun a product is for users/players requires subjective, situationally dependent metrics rather than traditional UX efficiency metrics. The UX discipline is still constructing a comprehensive ecology of the player experience and how to measure it. This article contributes to that ecology by detailing a case in which our team conducted a usability test on a new video game peripheral. Our client’s primary concern dealt with how fun experienced gamers found the device. As our test progressed, we encountered a number of fun-related participant behaviors that led us to develop new metrics beyond our initial planned metrics. These new metrics helped us and our client better define and discuss enjoyability. Our case, in conjunction with a detailed definition and review of player experience and UX scholarship, shows the importance of adopting metrics contextually specific to the video-game product and player group when measuring fun is the primary goal.
This exploratory study examines three video games as case studies for how video games may portray mental illness through interactive, non-narrative design features. The analysis not only reports findings but also offers an evaluation for how video games might improve in how they depict mental illness. The games studied are What Remains of Edith Finch, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, and Doki Doki Literature Club. The analysis identifies how these games use audiovisual styles, control systems, game goals, and procedurality to portray mental illness. A report of the discovered themes precedes a discussion of innovations and weaknesses of those depictions of mental illness.
Despite recent criticisms that call out blackface in video game voice acting, the term “blackface” was and still is seldomly used to describe the act of casting white voice actors as characters of colour. As a result, the act of blackface in video game voice acting still occurs because of colorblind claims surrounding the digital medium and culture of games. In this paper, I position blackface in video game voice acting within a technological and cultural history of oral blackface and white sonic norms. I focus on three time periods: the Intellivision Intellivoice and the invention of a "universal" voice in video games; early American radio in the 1920s-1930s and the national standardization of voice; and colorblind rhetoric of contemporary game publishers/devs and voice actors.
This paper addresses the depiction of colonialism and imperial ideologies in video games through an adaptation case study of the 2016 indie role-playing game Kim, adapted from the Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name. I explore the ways in which underlying colonial and imperial ideologies are replicated and reinforced in the process of adapting novel to game. In the process of adaptation, previously obscured practices of colonial violence are brought to the forefront of the narrative, where they are materialized by the game’s procedural rhetoric. However, the game fails to interrogate or critique these practices, ultimately reinforcing the imperial ideological framework in which it was developed.
Indie developer Kristopher Poulin-Thibault speaks with Samuel Poirier-Poulin (no relation) about the creation of the video game Looking Back. The interview starts with a brief discussion about the RPG genre and quickly moves toward a broader discussion about autofiction, trauma, time, memory, retro games, and language. Poulin-Thibault reflects on the interconnectedness of these topics and their influence on identity construction.