Reading 2

This week marked the beginning of my research for an online text book on Game Design and Development that our team has decided to write. Our aim is to publish the text book, so the writing and information should be academic, professional, and credible.

My topics are ‘Internal Economy’ and ‘Social Interaction Mechanics’.

To start, I had to phrase these topics as a research question.

“What are the uses of an internal economy in games?”

“How do social interaction mechanics affect gameplay?”

I had thought of using these as my questions, but after looking at what makes a valuable and useful research question that can yield interesting results for me and other researchers, I decided to narrow down the question.

At first, I thought an internal economy in games was a money system. However, upon more research, I discovered that it can be any sort of resource which can be produced, traded or used by the player. Monopoly’s economy is money, land, and property. Settlers of Catan has bricks, sheep, wood and more resources used to build settlements and roads, which also make up part of the internal economy. In video games, it can be ammunition, power ups, weapons etc. Occasionally, resources are a part of the game winning mechanic, and are therefore required in the game. Other times, resources help the player progress faster, or make the game easier for a short period of time.

So, my revised question is:

“How does an internal economy affect progression within a game?”

Social interaction mechanics are parts of a game that involve some interaction with another player of the same game. Using Monopoly once again as an example, if I want a property that another player has, I can begin to bargain and barter with the player to trade properties or agree on a price at which the property can be bought. This is a definite social interaction mechanic. Bartering is a common one in both board games and video games. Quiz games such as Pictionary split players into teams, and winning the game requires good communication skills and interaction with your team mate or mates. In some online multiplayer games, there are some areas that you cannot enter on your own; you must be part of a team or party to proceed. Cooperative and competitive mechanics are parts of social interactions. Each give their own sense of enjoyment.

So, my revised question is:

“Does the nature of social interaction mechanics in games affect the player’s enjoyment?”

The question I am trying to ask is, do players get a different sort of enjoyment from playing cooperatively than competitively? Do certain players prefer one over the other, or does it depend on the mood or game being played?

Having gone through a research question checklist, I determined that these questions are useful and succinct. Creating a search strategy was the next task. Below is the process I used to pick keywords, find synonyms and create search strings.

“How does an internal economy affect progression within a game?”

Internal Economy – resources.

Progression – advancement.

Game – interactive entertainment.

My two search strings were: 

“Internal economy” AND progression AND game.

Resources AND advancement AND interactive AND entertainment.

“Does the nature of social interaction mechanics in games affect the player’s enjoyment?”

Nature – type.

Social Interaction Mechanics – communication.

Games – interactive Entertainment.

Player – user.

Enjoyment – satisfaction OR fun.

My two search strings were: 

Nature AND “Social Interaction Mechanics” AND games OR player AND enjoyment.

Type AND communication AND interactive OR entertainment AND user AND satisfaction OR fun.

My search strings may need to be refined if results are not found.

The folder layout for using the Matrix Method.

I created folders on my computer using the Matrix Method. It was time consuming, but now that it is done, I will be able to keep track of my progress and research more efficiently. I initially used Google Scholar which produced some results, but not an abundance of relevant documents.

I will need to keep researching various reputable sources to find relevant papers and journals to base my own writing on. Databases like SpringerOpen yielded no results, so I may have to adjust my search parameters in the future. For now, I have made good progress, and I am set up for this task.

– Ultan

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