Player Experience: Articulating Suspense as a Configurative Encounter

Jasper Van Vught, Gareth Schott
2012 Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture  
As a complex and hybrid medium, games are at once a 'text' that can be read and an activity that demands that players participate in the construction of its structure. This article seeks to articulate the relationship and interactions between games and their players, with a specifi c focus on suspense as a type of player involvement. Previous studies lack a description of the specifi c qualities of game suspense or the participatory aspects that are responsible for triggering the emotion. By
more » ... the emotion. By examining how the textual and structural characteristics of the game trigger specifi c types of suspense, this article explores the involvement of a player between the virtual world and the actual confi gurative act of play, where personal success and failure are at stake. This article seeks to articulate a broader theoretical model that aims to account for the core dimensions of player experiences with digital games. The model continues to be developed as it is tested empirically via a mixed methodology located at an intersection between humanities, social sciences and computer sciences. In order to report on the way games function as textual and structural objects that carry cognitive, affective and social implications, several methodologies are being employed concurrently. These include, screen-extracted game-metric data (Marczak et al., 2012) , bio-metric storyboards and eye-tracking measures taking during gameplay sessions. Following game-play sessions, participants return to be interviewed and complete player commentaries over footage of their game-play. Beyond the lab setting, participants also complete diary entries that capture their accounts of gameplay experiences that occur between lab sessions. A core aim of the research project is to present a new model of media 'usage' with regards to digital game-playing experience that seeks to inform regulation processes and the classifi cation of games specifi cally within a New Zealand context. Compared to other countries, like the UK, where responsibility for the classifi cation of games now rests with a Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating system, New Zealand's Offi ce of Film and Literature Classifi cation (OFLC) is in the enviable position of still being able to respond to the particular social mores and taste boundaries of its population. Yet, common to all regulatory processes there exists a tendency to apply and retain descriptors used for more linear media (e.g. fi lm) when conveying game content. The experiential or interactive properties of games appear to have achieved only a nominal value within classifi cation processes. Thus, there is a failure to accurately describe, communicate or predict how games are going to be interpreted and confi gured (both positively and negatively) once they enter society and culture.
doi:10.16997/wpcc.152 fatcat:eiu7mqeexzg3fey43ad32laefq