Turning Japanese

Had the pleasure today of visiting the Tokyo Game Show to take part in what was a genuinely chaotically entertaining experience. New consoles where everywhere but apart from that, horse racing seems to be the game theme of tomorrow. Saddle up, gentlemen.
Afterwards I met up with Espen, Espen’s friend, and Lisa Galarneau of Social Study Games fame. We were led wisely through the Ginza district to find both beer and raw fish in suitable quaintities.
Tomorrow I’m off to Kobe for the Icec 2005 conference.

Gamer brain scan study

A recent brain scan study of gamers playing a violent games is reported to conclude that the brain treats on-screen violence as real and that these games train the brain to react in a certain pattern.
The study was described in New Scientist and commented on in This Is London.

From those brief descriptions it all seems remarkably vague. Also, New Scientist is hardly a scientific journal in itself making it odd that the study was “published” there.

More coverage from BBC – it now seems that the study is not about game violence, but about aggression in itself. The game part, according to BBC, is incidental. Interesting news angle, in that case.

The Project takes a new direction… – or: At least the sub-title is still reasonable

Okay, I wasn’t kidding when I said this was a research blog of sorts. Not fully kidding, anyway.
Elsewhere on this site I have claimed to be researching the issue of social order/control in multiplayer gamespaces. That’s still an interesting topic, of course.
But recently I have drifted towards another main issue: How can analytical game theory help us analyze video games? What predictions as to player behaviour does such a perspective entail? And how do these prediction fare when confronted with empirically real players?
I approach the latter part by analyzing the behaviour of players who play a small series of multiplayer console games. The players are videotaped while playing (as hinted at here) and their behaviour/communication is then analyzed (for more details send me an email).

One thing quite interesting about this approach is that my study seems to be fairly unique. Of course, whenever people say that no-one else has done X one may follow the rule of thumb that they haven’t looked properly. But at least I’m working with the hypothesis that no-one has done really micro analyses of the interaction between video game players on a small scale (that is non-ethnographic) working with questions like: “What do players say to each other?”, “Do players play to win or to make sure everybody has fun?” etc.
Prove my hypothesis wrong and I’ll buy you a beer.

Update: Unrelated to this post both Jesper and Bryan have actually alerted me to XEODesign’s report “Why We Play Games” (11mb download) which in fact reports a very interesting (and ambitious) study of player behaviour – even if targeted at “why?” and not “how?”. Not sure what the rules are exactly, but I might owe both of you a beer.