Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. 2005. World of Warcraft (WoW). https://worldofwarcraft.com/en-us/.
World of Warcraft (WoW) is the world’s most subscribed-to Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). Set in the universe of Warcraft, players create avatars based on different races and characters. Gameplay can consist of quests assigned by non-player characters (NPCs), setting up player-versus-environment (PvE) gameplay, or players can engage in playerversus-player combat (PvP). While WoW players can play solely as individuals, the formation of guilds and subsequent strategic play is common.
CCP Games. 2003. EVE Online. http://www.eveonline.com/.
EVE Online is a multiplayer MMORPG that takes place in a science fiction space setting. Players can assume or create one or multiple characters to navigate a galaxy set 21,000 years in the future. The galaxy consists of more than 7,500 star systems that players can navigate in space ships, accessing different star systems by means of stargates. Characters can take on different races and societies, and they can engage in different professions and activities, such as mining, trading, manufacturing, piracy, and combat. EVE Online consists of a large community of subscribers, which surpassed 500,000 in 2013.
Chang, Edmond. 2012. “Video+Game+Other+Media: Video Games and Remediation” [blog post]. Critical Gaming Project. https://depts.washington.edu/critgame/wordpress/2012/01/videogameothermediavideo-games-and-remediation/.
Chang considers video games within media culture and the adaptation of games for other purposes in the context of remediation. Referring to his work with Sarah Kremen-Hicks, Chang questions whether we can imagine new media only in the frame of old media and in existing structures of information. He argues that innovation in a medium can only be based on prior innovation of technology. Within this framework, innovation may not necessarily create better products, only more products, which indicates the teleological refinement that takes place and recognizes the “effect of new forms on existing ones” (n.p.).
Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3), University of Chicago. 2013. The Source. https://ci3.uchicago.edu/portfolio/the-source/.
The Source was an alternate reality game created as part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) high school curriculum; it was played by some 140 youth across the Chicago area from July 8 to August 16, 2013, during that year’s Chicago Summer of Learning. The game consisted of a series of webisodes showing Adia, a 17-year-old African American girl, speaking through her webcam to the players. Players split up into teams to solve problems and to help Adia understand a letter she had received. Through this process, the youth playing the game engaged in investigation and codebreaking, solved STEM-based puzzles, and participated in media production.
Crowley, Dennis, and Naveen Selvadurai. 2009. Foursquare. New York: Foursquare. https://foursquare.com.
Foursquare is a location-based social networking application primarily developed for mobile use. The main activity consists of users checking into different locations and tagging either the venue or the activity. Foursquare is built as a gamified structural mechanism that is often used as a model for gamification. Every check-in helps the user gain points, and certain tags or specific locations can earn the user badges. Users can become “mayors” of certain locations if they check in more than any other user over a certain time span.
Cyber Creations Inc. 2002. MMORPG.com. http://www.mmorpg.com/.
Headed by Craig McGregor, MMORPG.com is the website for enthusiasts of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. MMORPGs are usually quest-oriented, and often reward players for working together. Almost all MMORPGS include elements of currency and trade, which often encourages players to exchange items with or buy items from each other in a virtual free market. Many of these games will encourage cooperative play through quests or missions that require more than one player to complete. MMORPGs may also have built-in multiplayer minigames or player competitions. Notable titles: World of Warcraft, The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, The Elder Scrolls Online, and RuneScape.
De Carvalho, Carlos Rosemberg Maia, and Elizabeth S. Furtado. 2012. “Wikimarks: An Approach Proposition for Generating Collaborative, Structured Content from Social Networking Sharing on the Web.” In Proceedings of the 11th Brazilian Symposium on Human Factors in Computing Systems (IHC ’12), 95–98. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Brazilian Computer Society.
De Carvalho and Furtado argue for what they call a Wikimarks approach in order to encourage organized, sustainable, social content creation. Based on this approach, users share online content that flows into a content repository and is subsequently categorized in a taxonomy system by the users. User participation is fostered through social interaction and extrinsic motivation. In order to motivate participation in the classification of content, the authors recommend gamification methods.
De Paoli, Stefano, Nicolò De Uffici, and Vincenzo D’Andrea. 2012. “Designing Badges for a Civic Media Platform: Reputation and Named Levels.” In Proceedings of the 26th Annual BCS Interaction Specialist Group Conference on People and Computers (BCS-HCI ’12). Swinton, UK: British Computer Society, 59–68.
De Paoli, De Uffici, and D’Andrea outline a design experience for badges in Civic Media Platforms (CMPs) based on insights gained from a CMP design model called “timu,” which aims to offer a framework for a participative, bottom-up information ecosystem. While they acknowledge critiques of gamification, they argue that badges offer a way to formalize skills and reputation. The authors review various strengths and opportunities that badges bring to civic and educational platforms: they can represent a number of different things (e.g., community membership, competence, experience, reputation); they support transferability of skills, reputation, or achievements; they trigger motivation; and they build a sense of community among participants.
Drucker, Johanna. 2003. “Designing Ivanhoe.” TEXT Technology 2: 19–41.
Drucker charts the interface design approach that was used in the development of the Ivanhoe project that she worked on with scholar Jerome McGann. The objective was to challenge usual design practices and their assumptions about clarity and communication. Instead of designing Ivanhoe based on the structuralist premise that visual presence and graphical form are self-evident, Drucker used a theory-driven approach that allows for the interface to be conceived of as dialogic and networked, generative and procedural, emergent, relational, iterative, dialectical, and transformative. Ivanhoe is designed so that critical awareness is not only a part of the game (through the textual studies perspective), but the interface itself is based on critical awareness and theoretical insights.
Drucker, Johanna, and Jerome McGann. 2000. Ivanhoe. SpecLab (University of Virginia). http://www.ivanhoegame.org/?page_id=21.
Ivanhoe is an online game environment for multiple readers to collaboratively read, interpret, and reflect on a literary text. Similar to other role-playing game (RPG) environments, players take on alternate identities to perform their reading and interactions with each other. This structure encourages players to be aware of the ways in which acts of interpretation are formed, encouraging reflection on the meaning of such acts. Thus, the game enables collaborative interpretation of the selected text as well as critical reflection of the interpretive process itself. The gamespace, or bookspace, consists not only of the primary literary text that the game is structured around, but combines multiple primary and secondary texts, player contributions, and computer-generated processes in the same sphere.
Galloway, Alexander R., Carolyn Kane, Adam Parrish, Daniel Perlin, DJ/rupture and Matt Shadetek, Mushon Zer-Aviv, and the RSG Collective. Kriegspiel. http://r-s-g.org/kriegspiel/index.php.
Galloway and the RSG Collective of programmers and artists designed Kriegspiel (“war game” in German) based on Guy Debord’s board game of the same name. Debord first produced a limited edition of the game in 1977. He developed a full rule book, a mass production model made of cardboard and wood tiles, and a book that he co-published with his wife, Alice Becker-Ho, in 1987. Kriegspiel is a variant of chess played by two opponents—each of whom controls an army—on a 500-square board arranged in 20 rows of 25 squares each. The digital game is an attempt to situate Debord’s game in a contemporary landscape.
Insemtives. 2009–13. INSEMTIVES. http://insemtives.eu/.
This suite of tools focuses on the creation of semantic content via incentivebased gaming environments. INSEMTIVES aims to bridge the gap between machine-readable computational data and the necessary limitations of automating semantic content creation tasks. By providing incentives, INSEMTIVES attempts to inspire individuals to manually create, extend, or revise semantic content. This tool is geared toward social knowledge creation through user-generated content and participation.
Jakobsson, Mikael. 2011. “The Achievement Machine: Understanding Xbox 360 Achievements in Gaming Practices.” Game Studies: The International Journal of Computer Game Research 11 (1): n.p. http://gamestudies.org/1101/articles/jakobsson.
Jakobsson scans the achievements system in Xbox 360 games. In this console gaming environment, multiple individual games are combined into a total score or achievement level that is visible to other players, similar to the structure of massively multiplayer online (MMO) game environments. The achievements system provides extrinsic rewards that can be seen by others and thus function as external motivators. Comparing MMO game environments and console gaming, Jakobsson notes that both have similar properties, such as persistence, coveillance, and open-endedness. Jakobsson concludes that, although the achievements system in Xbox games follows rewards system approaches, it functions like an MMO game that all Xbox Live members participate in.
Kopas, Merritt. 2012. Lim. New York: Games for Change. http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/lim/.
Kopas’s game Lim requires the player to move a square through a structure of other squares (using the arrow keys) and to take on the colour of other squares in order to fit in and avoid attack. Built in Construct 2, a DIY gamemaking platform, Lim offers a superb example of the ways in which game mechanics can make arguments. While highly abstract, the game clearly communicates certain feelings, such as those of distress and not fitting in, that are important to the topic of liminality.
Maxis. 2008. Spore. Redwood City, CA: Electronic Arts Inc. http://www.spore.com/.
Spore is a multi-genre, single-player god game wherein the player develops a species and aims to achieve certain objectives in different stages of its development. The way each stage is played determines new characteristics that the species obtains for the following level. Spore consists of several genres, including action, strategy, and role playing game (RPG). The species that players create can be loaded to Sporepedia online, allowing other players to download them.
Maxis and The Sims Studio. 2000/2006–. The Sims. Redwood City, CA: Electronic Arts Inc. http://www.thesims.com/en-us.
The Sims is a best-selling strategic life simulation video game that consists of a main series and a variety of spinoffs. It is structured as a sandbox game in which players create people called “Sims.” The gameplay consists of helping these “Sims” live in their houses, engage in daily activities, and satisfy their desires.
McGann, Jerome. 2005. “Like Leaving The Nile. IVANHOE, A User’s Manual.” Literature Compass 2: 1–27. http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/jjm2f/old/compass.pdf.
In this user manual for the online literary analysis game Ivanhoe, McGann explains why he considers it imperative that humanities activities such as text analysis and interpretation move into and embrace the digital realm. While recognizing that humanities and social sciences material must be treated as information at the computational level, he argues that such materials must also be treated as knowledge at the “level of perception and thought—at the level of their human uses” (4). In Ivanhoe, an online gamespace, multiple readers can explore and interpret a text in a manner that visualizes the interpretations and shows interrelations between the players, moves, and documents. Ivanhoe thus allows for interpretation to take place on two levels: through interpretation of the documents being studied, and through interpretation of the critical thought of the players participating. McGann explains the functions and interactions of the game by walking through a textual mockup of an actual gameplay as an example.
Meier, Sid. 1991. Civilization. Hunt Valley, MD: MicroProse. http://www.civilization.com.
Civilization is a turn-based strategy game in which players construct, control, develop, and manage an empire. The player rules the civilization, builds cities and expands the empire, and at times has to engage in warfare and protect the empire. The culture, technology, and intellectual state of the civilization develops as the empire evolves. There have been six iterations of Civilization, including the original, as well as numerous expansion packs, spinoffs, and even board and card game versions.
Mojang and Microsoft Studios. 2011. Minecraft. Stockholm: Mojang; Redmond, WA: Microsoft Studios. https://minecraft.net.
Originally created by Swedish designer Markus “Notch” Persson, Minecraft is an open-world or sandbox game that allows for players to engage in activities outside of specific goals. The main activity in the game is to build constructions within a grid system using blocks that consist of a variety of materials. Most often, players play in the first person, but Minecraft also allows for third person gameplay. The game contains an optional achievement system, and players can choose to play in a survival mode or a creative mode, thus enabling different types of activities.
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games. 2009–.
Since coming to prominence in 2009, the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) style of game has grown in popularity due largely to the success of two titles: League of Legends and Smite. In MOBA games, whole team cooperation and stratification is paramount to success. Every player has a specific role in this style of game, and if one person is not performing well it can cost the whole team points, or result in the team losing the game. Often, the goal of a MOBA game centres around destroying one or more enemy structures while fighting off Artificial Intelligence-controlled units as well as the other team. Players usually play on a map that is split into lanes and jungle areas. They will then take designated positions and roles across the map, and cooperatively strategize on how to defeat the enemy. Notable titles: League of Legends, Smite, and Defence of the Ancients.
Polytron Corporation. 2012. Fez. http://fezgame.com/.
Fez is an indie puzzle and platform game developed by Montreal-based Polytron for Xbox Live Arcade. The game is unique in that it is a 3D world played from a 2D perspective. Gomez, the player character, starts out in a 2D world, but he receives a hat that allows him to enter the third dimension. Thus the player can rotate 90 degrees across four sides of the world to move through it. The goal of the game consists of collecting 32 cubes to reconstruct the hexahedron that existed in Gomez’s world at the beginning of the game. In this pursuit, the player moves through the world, finds secrets, and solves puzzles; however, Gomez does not fight enemies, and, although death can occur, there is no penalty for it.
Real-Time Strategy Games (RTSGs). 1982–.
Making its debut in 1982, the Real-Time Strategy Game (RTSG) is a singleplayer, cooperative, or online strategy game played, as its name suggests, in real time. Often, RTSG players balance a country’s or group’s economy, and possibly their military as well. A prime RTSG example and notable title is Total War: Shogun 2, which is a detailed, turn-based strategy game as well as a real-time battle strategy game. In the Co-op campaign within Shogun 2, two players are tasked with taking over 24 provinces in Japan. Together, the players manage their clan’s food, money, reputation, population, and military. When the players engage other groups in battle they do so via a third person view of their troops, and the two players must cooperatively battle the opposition’s army in order to win.
Rockwell, Geoffrey. 2003. “Serious Play at Hand: Is Gaming Serious Research in the Humanities?” TEXT Technology 2: 89–99.
Rockwell examines the role of games in academic research within the humanities. Referring to the ideas of theorists Ludwig Wittgenstein, Johan Huizinga, Hans-Georg Gadamer, and others, Rockwell conducts an investigation of the game Ivanhoe (a game environment for collaborative interpretation of literary texts) to show how the humanities can combine gaming and research. He depicts Ivanhoe as a model game environment that enables “what criticism should and could be in the context of learning and collaborative research” (93), while bringing playfulness into humanities activities.
Rockstar Games, Inc. 1997. Grand Theft Auto (GTA). http:// www.rockstargames.com/grandtheftauto/.
The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series is an open-world action-adventure driving game. Players take on characters who usually try to rise in the ranks of organized crime. Structured as a sandbox game, GTA is set in urban environments with fictional names, although they are based on American cities and states. The game action is primarily organized around vehicles, drivers, pedestrians, and traffic signals. However, gameplay goes far beyond driving, and player characters can choose which missions they complete and how they interact with other characters.
Stack Exchange Network. 2013. Stack Overflow. http://stackoverflow
Stack Overflow is a free programming question and answer site that allows users to build their reputation in order to gain more access and privileges. The site aims to offer an environment that allows programmers to ask relevant questions and receive helpful answers while discouraging irrelevant content. Structured as a user-built and -run environment, the curation and development of relevant content is encouraged through gamification methods. Within the Q&A framework, users can vote up each other’s contributions, and the best answers are displayed at the top of the list of responses. As a user’s questions, answers, and edits are voted up, that person’s reputation score increases. The higher the reputation score, the higher the user’s access privileges. Users can also earn badges for certain achievements and forms of participation.
Zynga Inc. 2009. FarmVille. Facebook and HTML 5. http://company.zynga.com/games/farmville.
FarmVille is a social network game that leverages the Facebook environment. Gameplay consists of the management of a farm that players maintain by plowing land, raising livestock, and planting, growing, and harvesting crops. Each player has an avatar and can interact with friends through Facebook. Players earn farm coins through certain actions or by obtaining enough experience points to move up levels, or farm points can be purchased for real money. Players are encouraged to interact with friends by visiting each other’s farms or joining efforts by forming co-ops. Ian Bogost’s game Cow Clicker, launched in 2010, satirizes FarmVille and similar games.