Games and Gaming Minitrack

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Games, gaming, and playful behavior have been an essential element in human history and culture. Games and gaming often have a social dimension, and today digital media in particular moderates those activities in key ways. As such, the Games and Gaming minitrack is looking for submissions broadly related to digital games and sociality. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods papers are welcome, ranging from interviews to big data analyses, or more broadly theoretical papers looking at digital gaming practices in general. Types of games studied may include mobile, social, free to play, AAA, MMOGs, PC, console, multiplayer, and indie games.

As part of the Digital and Social Media track, papers should contain a social dimension in the analysis, examining, for example, sociability, social practices, communities (in-game, out-game, across multiple spaces or time), use of social affordances, or some other social dimension.

Although gaming papers have been presented at HICSS for several years, 2017 is the first time for a specific games-focused minitrack in the Digital and Social Media track. The hope is to have a successful focus on games and gaming, acknowledging that games can provide unusual and challenging analytical issues not found in other environments that may not have the same playful, perhaps semi-anonymous, focus on a game.

Games research may call for multi-site, multi-method analysis not always found in other research areas and not only calls for deep understanding of theory and method but of games, gaming, and specific gaming environments. Given that this minitrack focuses on social elements, interactions, and structures, we envision digital games more broadly as socio-technical constructs.

As part of the Digital and Social Media, the Games and Gaming mini-track covers the following topics:

  • Social affordances of games
  • Network analysis of groups and communities in games
  • Social practice (in-game, out-game, both)
  • Player communities
  • Fans and fan communities
  • Community management
  • Toxicity online
  • Multiplayer games
  • Cooperative and competitive play
  • eSports
  • Fantasy sports leagues
  • Multigenerational play
  • Intercultural play
  • Streaming gameplay (e.g., Twitch)
  • Game curation via sites like Steam

Minitrack Co-Chairs:

Nathaniel Poor (Primary Contact)
Independent Scholar

Mia Consalvo
Concordia University, Montreal


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
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    When Code Governs Community
    ( 2017-01-04) Kou, Yubo ; Gui, Xinning
    We present a qualitative study of governance in the community of League of Legends, a popular Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game developed by Riot Games. To cope with toxic behaviors such as griefing and flaming, Riot Games initially implemented a crowdsourcing system inviting players to participate in governing their own community. However, in May, 2014, they automated the system, relying heavily on code while minimizing the level of human participation. We analyzed both players’ and Riot Games’ narratives to understand their attitudes towards the relationship between human judgment and automation, as well as between alienation and community. We found stark differences between players and Riot Games in terms of attitudes towards code and value in designing online governance. We discuss how the design of governance might impact online community.
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    The Style of Tetris is…Possibly Tetris?: Creative Professionals’ Description of Video Game Visual Styles
    ( 2017-01-04) Keating, Stephen ; Lee, Wan-Chen ; Travis, Windleharth ; Jin Ha, Lee
    Despite the increasing importance of video games in both cultural and commercial aspects, typically they can only be accessed and browsed through limited metadata such as platform or genre. We explore visual styles of games as a complementary approach for providing access to games. In particular, we aimed to test and evaluate the existing visual style taxonomy developed in prior research with video game professionals and creatives. User data were collected from video game art and design students at the DigiPen Institute of Technology to gain insight into the relevance of the existing taxonomy to a professional audience. Using a think-aloud card sort method, we observed their thought process for describing and categorizing visual styles of video games, and also collected candidate terms for revising the taxonomy. The results of this research will inform ongoing metadata work in the field to develop a standard for cataloging video games and interactive media, and will be useful to information systems that sort and classify games for users and cultural preservation.
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    "Something We Loved That Was Taken Away": Community and Neoliberalism in World of Warcraft
    ( 2017-01-04) Crenshaw, Nicole ; LaMorte, Jaclyn ; Nardi, Bonnie
    In this paper, we explore social life and play experiences on Nostalrius Begins, a World of Warcraft (WoW) private server. Private servers allow players to return to previous versions of a game before changes that modified it. Research indicates that changes to the current version of WoW discourage sociality and are upsetting for many players. Through a year-long ethnography, we found that the stories, memories, struggles, and concerns that players shared on Nostalrius Begins allowed them to rebuild the social community that they missed from earlier versions of the game. Over time, however, the neoliberal ideology of offline culture influenced players’ behaviors and affected social experience in a different way. Our research provides an analysis of the tension between community and neoliberal values in online games.
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    Playing along and Playing for on Twitch: Livestreaming from Tandem Play to Performance
    ( 2017-01-04) Scully-Blaker, Rainforest ; Begy, Jason ; Consalvo, Mia ; Ganzon, Sarah
    This paper is an analysis of individuals who livestream gameplay on Twitch. Two core concepts - ‘playing along’ and ‘playing for’ – are put forth as two poles to a continuum to better discuss tandem play in the context of livestreaming. From an analysis of participants’ exit interviews and observations of larger Twitch streams, it is shown that livestreaming is a form of tandem play, but only to a point. As audiences grow, ‘playing along’ becomes difficult for streamers. The ‘ceiling’ of tandem play is reached when a streamer is so focused on entertaining the largest number of people possible that they are no longer playing along with their spectators, but only playing for them.
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    Learning Links: A study of narrative learning through games with The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker
    ( 2017-01-04) Suzanne, de Castell ; Emily, Flynn-Jones ; Jennifer, Jenson ; Kelly, Bergstrom
    This paper details the iterative design and preliminary findings of a school-based study of whether, what and how students can learn about narrative---a foundational learning goal in elementary language arts – by playing a narratively structured commercial game. Working with a grade 6 teacher, we ran 3 lunchtime programs that involved playing The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, under three different conditions, from a minimally-interventionist “just play” approach, to an explicitly instructionist “knowledge delivery” one. Only in the third (explicit instruction) phase of the project were we able to generate evidence of significant “learning through play”. We conclude by considering impediments, both practical and theoretical, that stand in the way of bridging the persistent gap between “claims” and “evidence” in digital game-based learning research.
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    Gender Moderation in Gamification: Does One Size Fit All?
    ( 2017-01-04) Codish, David ; Ravid, Gilad
    Organizations actively seek methods for increasing employee engagement by incorporating game elements in core systems and processes, in an effort to increase their perceived playfulness. However, little is known about the actual impact of these elements on perceived playfulness. This study includes results from three repeated experiments performed during a gamified academic course. The relationships between enjoyment of specific game elements, the way they increase perceived playfulness, and gender moderations of these relations were examined. All three experiments show that badges had a positive relation with perceived playfulness and were more enjoyable to women. Surprisingly, the results showed that when men were the majority of subjects in the group, the relations between the game elements and perceived playfulness were different from when men were a minority. These results provide important insight into what possibly influences perceived playfulness in gamified solutions.
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    Introduction to Games and Gaming Minitrack
    ( 2017-01-04) Poor, Nathaniel ; Consalvo, Mia