This is a preliminary version of my research design for the course game studies.
The cause for this research is my personal experience with the game Halo on the Microsoft Xbox console platform. The resarch concerns the team-based multiplayer Capture The Flag (CTF) gametype in the map ‘Sidewinder’ within a Local Area Network (LAN) context. More specifically, within this context this research concerns the social construction of game rules.
The game Halo offers users the possibililty to adapt the game rules. However, not al elements of the game are modifiable. This means that some elements users would like to change are in fact not changeable. This was the case with the group of people who are interviewed for this research. Thus, this research concerns the constructive adaptation of game rules outside the spectrum of possibilities offered by the game designer(s).
By means of asking what, why, who and how I hope to provide insight in the motivation of game players in case of (re)making the rules.
Why were the game rules offered by the designers not followed?
Were the rules negotiated or was it a concensus?
What was the goal of changing the rules?
What was the result of changing the rules?
The research concerns participatory culture and will make use of the framework ‘’Games as participatory media” (Raessens, 2005); interpretation, reconfiguration and construction. The game rules are related to the construction part of the framework. Within ‘construction’ one can discern ‘modification’ and ‘creation’. I expect that the phenomenon of changing the rules is best described using ‘modification’. The research can be classified as participation research.
Besides Raessens I consider the following texts useful; “Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds” (Juul), “Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals” (Salen and Zimmerman) and “Creative Player Actions in FPS Online Video Games” (Wright).
Raessens says that he adheres to “technological interactionism” (p. 379) and I follow him in this regard. Here, social processes are influenced by technological developments as well as human negotations. This means that I will take into account both the negotiation of rules in a group setting, as well as the technological affordance; the configuration of the game elements.
The research is best described as participatory ethnography, since the researcher participated in the group himself. However, the interpretation of game elements is also significant, therefore the research also make use of the tools offered by object analysis.
The research is a case study and is based on interviews with 4-6 respondents, thus it concerns qualitative fieldresearch. These people were all part of a group of players who played together on a regular basis. Together, they changed the rules of the game. The answers provided form the basis on which I can answer the research question.
Scientific value of the research
The research concerns a very specific combination of peripherals, software and game form. The research provides insights on a small but deep area. Thus, the results might be limited to this specific situation and thus not generalizable. However, the FPS-genre is at this time still very popular, which recent releases regarding the Call of Duty and Medal of Honor franchises. The research is valuable for both academics as well as game designer, because it purports to give insight into what game players demand from the rules of the game and the opportunity to change these rules. The goal is to make games that appeal even more to game players.
Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Jesper Juul
Games as participatory culture. Raessens, 2005
Handbook of Computer Game Studies. Raessens & Goldstein
Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, U.S.A., 2003. 670 pp., illus. Trade. ISBN: 0-262-24045-9.
Creative Player Actions in FPS Online Video Games. Wright.