What are the exact aspects of the videogame medium, the precise features or combinations of features that lend themselves to expressing ideas and meaning? To chart this out, I begin with an American legal case that serves as a foundation for the basic issues involved and then move on to show how this relates to some of the broader attitudes the world of videogame discourse. Based on this, I break down the expressive strategies of videogames into three aspects—non-playable sequences, rule-based systems, and the relationship between the two—which I then illustrate with examples proving that videogames can indeed be an expressive medium.
Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMPs) continue to be a popular and lucrative sector of the gaming market. Project Massive was created to survey MMP players about their play experience, social experience, and communication tool usage both inside and outside of their gaming environments. 1852 MMP players have completed the online Project Massive survey, reporting on their play patterns, commitment to their player organizations, and personality traits like sociability and extraversion. The primary focus of Project Massive has been on the player groups that form in MMPs. Most MMPs support and attempt to foster group formation of some kind or another among their players. These formal player groups, often called guilds, can be as persistent as the digital worlds in which they exist. We have found that players who are highly committed to their guilds spend significantly more time in-game than do moderately committed guild members and solo (non-guild) players. Enhancing a player’s commitment to their guild can translate into extending their commitment to the game world. In turn, this may result in longer subscriptions and increased revenue for the game’s creators. This research is important because there has not been substantial research into the traits and practices of the more successful player organizations that are able to sustain committed bodies of members. Project Massive has investigated how these groups develop, organize, communicate, and operate across a number of independent game worlds. Here we report on our findings and describe our future longitudinal work as we track players and their organizations across the evolving landscape of the MMP product space.
This article discusses first steps towards a specific rhetoric of digital games where general rhetoric makes up the scientific discipline of strategic communication and symbolic action by means of identification and psychagogy. Therefore, this work contributes to the fundamental and general question why and how players become consubstantialised and persuaded with game designs, and stick to gameplay these games. Accordingly, a first conceptual model is introduced and discussed. It features three interrelating dimensions which engage a symbolic, a structural, and a systemic coupling between player and game design during gameplay within an experiential eigenworld of reciprocal control, mastery, and empowerment.