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Emergence and playfulness in social games

By Ben Kirman

Abstract

Social Games, built and played on social networks such as Facebook, have rapidly become a major force in the world of game development, and the top social games today claim more players than any other online game on any format.\ud As social games begin to mature from their roots as simple playful social toys and into the products of big business, the patterns and mechanics used in the design have begun to be formalised. \ud In this paper, it is argued that experimentation and playfulness is still a very important part of the play experience and a valuable source of fun. As game designs explore the space opened by the new genre of social games, it is vital for designers to leave “gaps” in the design to allow for playful and serendipitous experiences to emerge from the activities of the players.\ud To support this argument, Caillois’ classification of play is used as a lens through which social games can be examined. Examples of paidic, playful and emergent play are presented from popular social and offline games, and a detailed case study of paidic play in a new social game is presented from the designer’s perspective. Interviews from participants to an open trial are discussed, and their experiences in creating their own playful experiences and goals within the formal structure of the social game design are explored

Topics: G440 Human-computer Interaction
Publisher: ACM Press
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1145/1930488.1930504
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:3436

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