The Player Perspective – looking and players, and players looking back
There is no game without players. Before players enter the game, nothing exists but lines of code, a board and pieces in a box, some rules awaiting interaction. While game scholars and designers have always been aware of the players’ crucial role, there are many different ways in which ‘the player’ enters and influences the sphere of game making and research, and just as the field itself keeps changing, so does the significance of the player perspective.
Big Data promises new opportunities for the empirical study of players and player culture, enabling the study of player behavior and motivations on an unprecedented scale. A growing interest in the cognitive predispositions of and impact on players leads to new questions, ranging from the benefits of the cognitive sciences for computer game research and design to the added value of game-based technologies for cognitive research. And even beyond empirical research, scholars and designers will always construct their ‘model player’ in a way that, as an abstract idea, determines the nature of even the most technological or theoretical considerations about the medium: what does it mean to think of players as consumers, audiences, clients, learners, stockholders or collaborators respectively? And how can one even imagine ‘the player’ in a world in which playing games is becoming so ubiquitous that it makes little sense to think of players as a distinct group in the first place?
At the same time, more than ever before, players are bringing their own perspective into the creation and reflection of games. On an economical level, players exert increasingly direct influence on game production, either by deciding what games are being made through crowdfunding projects, or by making their own games, as low-threshold game creation tools become more accessible. And on a cultural level, players are forming interest groups to more effectively change the public discourse on games and gamer culture, even if the inhomogeneity of these groups sometimes creates more differences than commonalities, as the case of Gamergate has impressively shown.
In a more literal sense, the player perspective is changing through new technologies and practices. Virtual Reality games promise new degrees of immersion and fundamentally change the players’ perspective within the game. Augmented Reality games serve as a lens through which the world itself is perceived in new and different ways. And the introduction of semi-professional gaming in E-Sports leads to new distinctions within the player community: athlete, sports-hero or fan are new emerging player roles that even change the players’ perspective on other players.
The 11th Vienna Games Conference – FROG 2017 – welcomes submissions that address “The Player Perspective” in any of its manifestations, and invites game scholars and industry professionals to discuss the direct or implicit impact that players have on their work. In addition, students are invited to submit and present thesis projects examining “The Player Perspective”. And for the very first time, there will also be a special “High School” submission track, in which students are welcome to submit exceptional VWAs (Vorwissenschaftliche Arbeiten / Pre-Scientific Papers) that relate to the field of game studies in a broader sense.
Submission deadline: 07/07/2017
Examples of topics:
1. Investigating players (players as a focus of interest in research and design)
- Empirical methods and findings (player experiences, gamer culture, playtesting methods etc.)
- New questions and emerging areas of interest
- Current methodological issues (e.g. Big Data)
- Player studies as cognitive studies
2. The Model Player (imagining ‘the player’)
- Players as a mental image (What roles do we assign to ‘the player’ in research and design, and how do these constructions affect our theoretical, empirical or design work?)
- Players as ‘the other’ (How does the omnipresence of games and gaming change our ideas of ‘the player’ as a distinct group?)
- Players as counterpart (What is the position of ‘the player’ within the field of game research and design?)
3. Player participation (players gaining power)
- Crowdfunding (players greenlighting games)
- Content Creation (players making games)
- The players’ lobby (players changing the social discourse on games)
4. Changing the Players’ Perspective (technological aspects of perspective, situation and perception in Games)
- How do new technologies like Virtual and Augmented Reality change the players’ perspective in a quite literal sense?
- What are the challenges of VR and AR for game designers?
- What is the significance of VR and AR for game studies, what new research questions, paradigms, and problems arise?
5. E-Sports from the Players’ Perspective
- The anonymous perspective: competitors are only known to each other as nicknames or avatars
- The celebrity perspective: professional athletes and their clans or sports clubs receive payment, incentives and even worship
- The audience perspective: Fans’ perception of E-Sports athletes (Twitch, YouTube, TV), and athletes’ perception of fans (e.g. chat while streaming).