Other Players: Rough notes from Day 1

On the way to Other Players...

Very rough notes, concentrating on main ‘gists’ and questions as the proceeedings are online here.

There’s a flickr group pool for photos here (just me at the time of writing…)

Other Players

day one

introductory comments

14 researchers focussing on games…
cultural and social aspects
serious games… for learning, with an agenda, study ethics…

first fully-peer reviewed international conference on games…?

the conference game: eric z and jesper juul

find other people on your team and work to create a statement
you have a pack of word cards…
two ways to win: a narratological victory (best content) and a ludological victory (longest statement…)
buy power ups (using word cards) in the in-game store…
playing over the next two days…

Ian Bogost, Asynchronous
Multiplay: Futures for Casual Multiplayer Experience
MMOG and deathmatch memes reinforce synchrony as the apotheosis of multiplayer gaming – that they are the best type…

asynchronous play = casual

some characteristics

play in sequence, not tandem
a persistant state that all players effect, that effects all players
breaks between players are the organizing principle – meaningful use of these disruptions as guidepoints
async play need not be the defining characteristic

persistant high score tables with initials: asteroids was the first.
high score tables encourage people to stop playing once high score is achieved – make a play break to issue the challenge to the local community of players.

doesn’t see async play as breaking ‘the magic circle’ but reinforcing it, because the transitions make entry/exit more meaningful.

q: mmogs are more asyn than sync because of planning, preparation, trade etc. async play within a syncd world.

q: frans meyer: you have presented async as casual… but in experience has been more hardcore in involvement (wargamers, pbm, etc)

a: async is not inherently casual, but could be used to investigate casual engagement

q: what about the investment in reassessing the game state at breaks, when you start or stop… is there more admin needed on the players behalf? reorientating themselves?

a: sounds like a design risk…

Richard Bartle, Newbie Introduction: How Poor Design Triumphs

Virtual Worlds not only repeat mistakes but reinforce them…

URU players once it was shut down, moved to there.com, and rebuilt it. WHen the makers of URU said the player community could have the source code, they replied that they prefered playing the idealised version they had constructed within there.com


q: i don’t judge movies by the first movie i saw, why is it with games?
a: it may be because of the freedom and agency that you have in a game to epxlore and explore perosnlity. aslo the amount of time spent in virtual worlds.

q: what happens when you win… what is winning like
a: read my book! winning is the pint of atonement, the end goal – most games don’t have this nowadays… don’t want to let people retire or move on, even though they have the golden fleece or have become a master-jedi etc [one thought: what about the story of wonder boys… http://www.culturevulture.net/Books/WonderBoys.htm%5D

Mirjam Eladhari & Craig Lindley, Story Construction and Expressive Agents in Virtual Game Worlds

is there story in virtual game worlds

story is the sequence of events

narrative is the story the way it is told

narration is the art of telling the story: how it is told

Nathan Combs, The Intelligence in the MMOG: from Scripts to stories to directorial AI
slightly different than the paper, but covers the point

MMOG AI has an essential role
– players can’t do it alone
– developers can’t do it alone

vision of games IA needs to change: effecive AI – as performance
look to self-sustaining worlds

tale of two contrasting visions: trees vs emergent structures

a simulationist vison
distinction between simulation and simulationist
– a dynamic representation (a.stern) with mechanics consistent with the fiction of the world
– more outcomes…
problems: doesn’t necesarily reward with great game play
as rewards the aggregate more – a beter world, but not a great individual experience

versus ‘stagecraft’

scripted solutions, lead to ad-hoc solutions, difficult to generalise

“stagecraft via sim” – raph koster)
why not an AI that thinks globally acts locally
manages the ecology of play and world mechanics
supports great moments as well as longer intervals
supports trust emergence…

1st game he played: star trek
elaborate metagames driven by scare timeshared computer resource turned it into a MMO (kinda)

moving parts:
– chess (lots of moving parts)
– also lots of metagame dynamics (psyching out opponents)

‘the trick is to have lots of pieces contribute to different outcomes’ – w. wright

will wright: interacting/interlocking moving parts
‘dynamics for designers’ GDC 2003

player dynamics can drive the world
while AI may be designed to look like other players… players almost ape the AI

there is a role for AI in running the world pieces not played by players [yes! the extelligence!]

AI as an adaptive controller

complementary to social systems

why isn’t the world an active particpant?

AIs communicating behaviour without reproducing it… AI as performance… we (the audience) project into it… “it’s looking me in the eye…”

Robin Hunicke.: play and flow: flow spiral in FPS

Simulation doesn’t necessarily make a game: netlogo / sugarscape

flow and simulationist world: use AI to coordinate flows?

need a language for description, analysis and critique of AI in MMOs


q: brenda laurel: computers as theatre back in 1992… AI as Master of ceremonies… why do you think this has been so poorly developed in the 13 yrs since she proposed it… is there anything that makes it more feasible now?

q: different between declaritive and imperative deisgn. managing the “flow channel” of one player vs all player in the world… incredible hard and utopian? is the slightly less hard version?

a: it’s hard, but i woudln’t say it was utopian.

bartle q: what i’ve never liked about flow is that you never win… can you say if someone is a hero if everytime the going got too tough the world turned its difficulty down a bit… what do you do when the players know about the adaptive flow? they can play a metagame…

0 thoughts on “Other Players: Rough notes from Day 1

  1. Funny how none of the speakers/paper writers are actually involved in making games. A bit like a group of bricklayers talking about opera.

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