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.