I’ve passed the halfway point for my BCM300 digital artefact, and so far, I’m on track with regards to my original timeline. In only two iterations of my blog posts, I have already learned so much about the mechanics of games, the interaction between theme and narrative, and the materiality of games. Playing in a virtual setting each fortnight has been both challenging and insightful, and has pushed me out of my comfort zone, encouraging me to take a more research-based approach to this final project.
Initially, I proposed that I would be playing one game per week with my sister online, or via Zoom. In my pitch, I originally thought that one game per week would allow me to examine the shifting role that technology plays in our interaction with media and mediums, particularly within the current environment where we all find ourselves in isolation. After receiving feedback on the pitch, I decided to push this to once a fortnight, which would give me more time to undertake thorough research into the games I am playing and write up a more comprehensive blog post. I most definitely took this advice on board, especially considering it was actually much more difficult to schedule times to play games remotely with my sister, as she too is studying a full time degree, and as an engineering student, unfortunately does not prioritise time for my media pursuits. Hopefully I’ll manage to convert her perspective by the end of this project.
In the first week, I put a poll on twitter to determine which game we start with. We played Guess Who?, which ended up being a truly awful translation to an online setting, yet did open up a whole new door in my mind when it came to researching the history of the game. I uncovered an incredibly interesting racist history behind the game, and it challenged me to consider and research how this game might look in modern day society.
In terms of the re-lived game experience, my sister can be quoted saying “It just wasn’t the same… it was really boring”. I was originally going to make an accompanying YouTube video for each blog post showing my sister and I on Zoom playing the game and interacting online. However, with this particular experience we found that we barely spoke a word to each other as the questions were generated by the computer – making for an incredibly boring video. Instead, I decided to record a podcast “episode” discussing our experience, which I think was much more beneficial in adding to the blog post.
Interestingly, in this first week it became very apparent that some games from my childhood don’t work as well online, which is a big factor in game experience design. Rogerson (2016) writes that “the environment where a board game is played is critical to the players enjoyment of the game- and even their ability to play the game at all”. In playing this game online, we both felt that it had lost its magic through the inability to touch the materials of the game and hear the clicking sound when a tile is flipped down.
This idea of materiality was also very apparent in my second week of playing games from my childhood, this time playing Boggle. In my blog post for this week, I researched the importance of materiality when it comes to board games, and the significance that the tactile materials have in terms of designing a playing experience. We found that once again the lack of materiality (in this case, the lack of the obnoxious rattle of the die inside the plastic lidded tray), diminished our playing experience online. A participant in the 2016 Rogerson study quotes “There’s a lovely dexterous, sensuous feeling you get from just interacting with the physicality of the game that I really love.”
In terms of feedback, I posted the first blog post to twitter asking for comments, but to no avail. In the future, I will put my DA into the group playtesting/feedback document to receive any constructive criticism which might help me improve future posts. I am hoping to complete two more posts before the end of semester.
My individual project thus far has given me a very interesting insight into the experience of re-playing games from my childhood. Beyond this, however, the project has encouraged me to research different elements of games which might be considered in our group project design (such as theme, mechanics and materials), but has also given me a greater scope for feedback on the playtesting experience through my additional research endeavours.
Alexander, A., 2019. “Guess Who?”: A Game Of Differentiation. [online] Culture on the Edge. Available at: <https://edge.ua.edu/andie-alexander/guess-who-a-game-of-differentiation/> [Accessed 14 May 2020].
Rogerson, M 2016, ‘”I love all the bits”: The materiality of boardgames’, Designing New Player Experiences, Microsoft Research Centre for Social NUI, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia. Available at: <https://www.academia.edu/25254052/_I_love_all_the_bits_The_materiality_of_boardgames> [Accessed 14 May 2020].