Research diary for my Master thesis project: From Efficiency to Engagement: Game Dynamics on the Social Web. Tim Koch-Grünberg, Aveiro, Portugal.
pesquisar neste blog
posts recentes

Economia do Envolvimento

Reading Notes: The Multifaceted Nature of Intrinsic Motivation (2/2)

Reading Notes: The Multifaceted Nature of Intrinsic Motivation (1/2)

Reading Notes: Acting with Technology (1)

Google Tech Talks

TED Talks

Dissertation project: influent authors

reading notes: Information Visualization and Interface Culture

reading notes: Designing for Collaboration and Communication

(Inter)acções abertas vs estruturadas


Janeiro 2011

Novembro 2010

Outubro 2010

Setembro 2010

Quarta-feira, 27 de Outubro de 2010
Dissertation project: influent authors

Our research advisor asked us to identify three authors which are important or influent in our research domain. My project is about gamification of the social web, so what do we have here? Games, Play and Game Design, on one side, and social web, online communities, computer supported cooperative work and social interaction, on the other. Tying the two together are the emerging domains of gamification and social games. Instead of listing three authors in general, I'll list a few authors for each major domain.


Games, Play and Game Design

The traditional scholars of Play and Games in human culture are Johan Huizinga, with his seminal work Homo Ludens, and Roger Caillois, author of Man, Play and Games. I could cite more authors concerned with play and games predating videogames (Sutton-Smith, Suits, etc.), but I'll have to draw the line somewhere. These are foundational, so we can't let them out.

Jesper Juul did a great job of analyzing traditional definitions and theories about games in the light of modern videogame culture. His work got published in the book Half-Real, and any modern discussion about games in general and videogames in particular isn't complete without reference to his work. More recently, he wrote on the rise of casual games, A Casual Revolution. Understanding the rise of casual games allows us to see through impressive graphics and immersive worlds to see what it is about "simple" games that makes them so desirable for non-gamers and gamers alike.

Recently, I came into contact with Aki Järvinen's doctoral dissertation, Games Without Frontiers. He developed an interesting theory of player motivation and behaviour, which resides upon his analysis of game elements. So I'll include him as an author of importance concerning games in general, because in order to put his theories of player behaviour into context, I'll have to read his analysis of games in general. (Järvinen is a major thinker and practicioner in the industry of Social Games, which we'll talk about in a moment.)

So much for game studies. Seminal works in the theory of game design (written by active game designers) were Chris Crawford's The Art of Computer Game Design, published in 1982 and re-published in altered form in 2003 under the title Chris Crawford on Game Design, and Greg Costikyan's article I Have No Words and I Must Design, written in 1992, re-written in 2002. More recently, Jesse Schell's book The Art of Game Design is on its way to become a favorite in the industry because of its writing, which manages to be deep and accessible at the same time. This no-nonsense book is light on academic theory, but rich on insight and understanding of games. Another important work in modern game design bibliography is Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman's Rules of Play, published in 2003.


The Social Web

The expansion of the web into our everyday life isn't happening right now - it already happened. How did the web evolve from static HTML homepages from the 90's to modern cross-device social experiences? Why do people like to get together on the web? How do we use the web? What do we use it for? Questions upon questions...

If we want to understand the history of the web, maybe we should start at the beginning: Tim Berners-Lee's 1989 paper submitted at the CERN, Information Management: A Proposal. But wait - Berners-Lee didn't invent hypertext. Ted Nelson's utopian idea of project Xanadu is worth a look, as is Vannevar Bush's influent paper from 1945, As We May Think. Since we are at the beginning of computing, why not look at Doug Engelbart's work, which led to the oN-Line System and Xerox Star Computer system. This little exploration leaves us at the beginning of the GUI. Where do we go from here? Expansion of the personal computer, IBM, Microsoft vs Apple. Back to the 90's.

Why and how did the Internet and the Web transform our society? Castells to the rescue! The Rise of the Network Society will shed some light on the major economical and social transformations of our modern information age.

So the web is everywhere. What do people do on it? They communicate! They form communities! They want to be on social networking sites! Howard Rheingold, Amy Jo Kim, Jenny Preece - all important authors, allthough somewhat academic. On the industry side, we have Joshua Porter writing an interesting book and the folks from Yahoo! doing the same. Oh, and we can't forget Tim O'Reilly's article that sparked the idea of Web 2.0. And Danah Boyd (who apparently insists on writing her name in lowercase, don't ask me why) writing academic papers about SNSs (social networking sites).

In 2010, we can't talk about the web without talking about the mobile web. What was once a little brother to thre "real web", with own (weaker) standards and protocols, has grown into one of the fastest growing communication technologies known in history. A good overview of recent developments is to be found in Morgan Stanley's Mobile Internet Report Key Themes. For statistics, I'll go for the The Pew Internet & American Life Research Reports, for example Social Media and Mobile Internet Use among Teens and Young Adults.


Social Games

After looking at games and social networks, we'll have to look at somethig that is uniting them: games that use your social relations on the web as a game element. Social Games. Yes, I'm talking about Farmville and its brethren. One simply cannot ignore 83 million monthly active users. What's the thing about social games that makes them so effective? Well, everybody likes (casual) games, and everybody is on the web weaving social ties. So social games are a logical progression, riding on the wave of two incredibly strong developments. Synergy, baby!

Recently Sebastian Deterging published a workshop report held at Games Convention Leipzig 2010, where he invited top researchers to talk about social games. This report is probably the most complete and up-to-date document about academic and industry research into Social Games.

Aki Järvinen comes to mind again, with his paper Game Design for Social Networks. Although included in Sebastian Deterding's workshop report, his ideas on social game design are worth pointing out individually.



So, finally, we get to the main point: imbuing an application on the social web with game-like qualities to make it more engaging. Gamification. This term is the web's new favourite buzzword, and most of the talk about gamification is total bull*hit. Why? Because you can't just make anything into a game. A game, by (various) definition(s), is an activity you take part in voluntarily and which occurs in a sort of "separate dimension" from reality. What most of the examples of "gamification" currently in the making are, is copying motivation and reward mechanisms from games and paste them unto other products,  services and even work environments. That doesn't make them a game. As Margaret on Hide&Seek pointed out: gamification is a great idea, but with the wrong name: it should be called pointsification.

So, where does that leave us? Gamification being either Game Design (when something really gets turned into a game), or Mindless Marketing-Speech? Maybe. I don't know. Yet. This will be something I'll have to find out during my research project. Anyway, important authors in this field are Jesse Schell, who started a major hype with his great presentation at Dice 2010, Amy Jo Kim, who is concerned about "putting the fun in functional", Gabe Zicherman, who believes that marketing can be turned into a game, the authors of Total Engagement and Changing the Game, who want to change work environments by turning them into games, and Sebastian Deterding, who is trying to wake people up and telling them that a game is a game and a reward mechanism is a reward mechanism.



Well, somehow I got more than three authors. If I had to choose just three, I would choose Aki Järvinen's thesis and papers over other game design books because of the richness of academic references; Jennifer Preece's book and papers over other authors because of the same reason, and Sebastian Deterding's Workshop Report and his presentations because of his informed point of view on the current hype.

tags: , , , , ,

publicado por tim às 15:18

Quarta-feira, 20 de Outubro de 2010
reading notes: Information Visualization and Interface Culture

These are my notes taken while reading Greg J. Smith's article Information Visualization and Interface Culture, which is accessible online (pdf). This isn't related to my master thesis; I read it for a class in qualitative data analysis where we're going to study the impact of infographics and infovisualizations on social networking sites.




Defining the Interface


Significant Related Technologies


The Battle of the Beams


A Desktop for the Ages: Vannevar Bush and the Memex


A Giant Setp for Military Imaging: The Birth of HUD


The GUI and Pervasive Interface Culture


Lev Manovich


John Maeda, Ben Fry and the Era of Post-Visual Arts


Alan Liu and the Laws of Cool


Recent Developments and Contemporary Work


tags: , , , , ,

publicado por tim às 23:13

Terça-feira, 19 de Outubro de 2010
reading notes: Designing for Collaboration and Communication

These are my notes taken while reading Chapter 4 - Designing for Collaboration and Communication from the book PREECE, J., ROGERS, Y., SHARP, H. (2002): Interaction Design: beyond Human-Computer Interaction. Halfway through the post I switch from normal language to bullet-points lists. This happened because I was spending too much time pondering the form of my notes instead of the content.



Designing for Collaboration and Communication


We, as a society, developed diverse communication mechanisms which aid us to communicate efficiently with each other, even if most of the time we aren't really aware of them. Three examples of these mechanisms include conversational mechanisms, coordination mechanisms and awareness mechanisms.


1. Conversational Mechanisms

Talking comes naturally to us, but actually it is a quite complex social coordination. Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1978) described three rules which govern whose turn it is to say something. These rules are checked from 1 to 3, cycling through them if one of them is not applied:

1 – a current speaker chooses the next speaker by asking an opinion, question or request. If this does not happen, the next rule applies.

2 – another person decides to talk. If this does not happen, the next rule applies.

3 – the current speaker continues talking. If this does not happen, the cycle starts again at the beginning.


We can observe this behaviour frequently in real-life: when somebody says all he has to say, without feeling the need to pass the word to somebody else (rule #1 did not apply), but nobody else decides to talk (rule #2 did not apply), and the first speaker still has nothing more to say (rule #3 did not apply), an embarrassing silence might arise. Shortly afterwards, the first speaker might ask his partner what he thinks (maybe just to break the silence), starting the cycle again at rule number 1.


Another way to conceptualize talking is through adjacency pairs, as identified by Shegloff and Sacks (1973). Here, conversational remarks are supposed to come in pairs. The first sets the stage and expectation of what is to come next, directing the way in which what actually comes next is heard and interpreted. Adjacency pairs may get embedded into each other, when instead of replying to the first remark, the conversation partner makes another remark.


If a conversation is coming to a situation of uncertainty and potential misinterpretation, repair mechanisms need to be applied to repair the conversation to a state of correctly functioning information flows. Discovering breakdowns in communication requires that both partners are aware and pay attention to what is being said. If not, they may misinterpret each other without realizing it.


2. Coordination Mechanisms

Coordination takes place when a group of people act together to achieve something. To help us coordinate our individual actions towards a greater goal, we employ a diverse set of coordination mechanisms. Some of these include:


3. Awareness Mechanisms

Awareness allows us to know what is happening and who is talking to whom. It is important in learning about our (physical and social) environments and our potential conversation and cooperation partners.

People that work together need to be constantly aware of what the others are doing, specially if their work is closely associated, depending on the latest actions of their partners. If somebody in a closely-knit team, due to distractions or other reasons, isn't aware of his partners actions, he might carry on his work based on the latest situation he was aware of. This might result in errors and inappropiate behaviour.


4. Conceptual Frameworks

There are a number of different conceptual frameworks (borrowed from other disciplines) which allow us to conceptualize and analyze social interaction. Two of these are the language/action framework and distributed cognition.


4.1. The language/action framework


4.2. Distributed Cognition


4.3. Other Conceptual Frameworks

Other conceptual frameworks include:




tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

publicado por tim às 00:03

Domingo, 10 de Outubro de 2010
(Inter)acções abertas vs estruturadas

Uma interface pode possibilitar uma acção de forma aberta (livre) ou estruturada (condicionada). A interface "aberta" dá mais liberdade de personalização ao utilizador. Pelo outro lado, oferece pouca ajuda, raramente é self-explainatory, pode deixar o utilizador na dúvida se está a realizar a acção da forma correcta e leva a resultados incoerentes entre várias utilizações. Um exemplo deste tipo de interface é a própria Wiki do Sapo Campus (que recorre à Mediawiki, o mesmo motor da Wikipedia). A interface para a escrita de uma página ou de um artigo consiste numa janela de edição de texto, totalmente em branco. A junção de várias páginas num todo organizado requer a livre associação de páginas individuais através de links. Isto faz com que exista pouca coerência na estruturação de páginas individuais e na forma como várias páginas estão associadas. Os utilizadores têm que observar exemplos de páginas existentes ou continuar na dúvida se estão a trabalhar da melhor forma.


Uma interface estruturada, pelo outro lado, dita um processo específico para realizar uma acção. Isto limita a liberdade do utilizador, mas retira muitas dúvidas e incertezas. Exemplos de interfaces estruturadas são mecanismos de expressão de avaliação subjectiva de qualidade de um conteúdo multimédia (feedback) através de ratings ou likes em sites de redes sociais como o Youtube ou o Facebook (ou o próprio Sapo Campus Fotos e Vídeos). Um exemplo de uma interface não-estruturada para dar feedback seria uma caixa de comentário. Devido à maior facilidade de acção, as interfaces estruturadas convidam muito mais à acção do que as não estruturadas. Prova disto é a página oficial do Sapo Campus no Facebook. No momento de escrita deste artigo (10/10/2010, 22h50), os 10 últimos itens publicados nessa página tiveram 21 likes e somente 3 comentários.


Uma acção deve ser possibilitada de uma forma aberta com recurso a estruturação sempre que necessário. Assim mantemos a liberdade de personalização, enriquecendo-a com a ajuda oferecida pela estruturação do processo. Um exemplo desta abordagem é a dupla like + comentário no Facebook. Posso simplesmente likear ou, se desejar ser mais específico, adicionar também um comentário. No caso da estruturação de páginas na Wiki, deveria existir uma área com uma lista de secções comuns. Com um clique adicionaria uma secção com o nome (editável) da secção seleccionada. Junto desta secção aparecia uma caixa de texto em que posso inserir o texto dessa secção específica. Em alternativa, podia criar instantaneamente todas as secções. Podiam existir vários templates de artigos diferentes.


Podemos observar que vários serviços Web caminham em direcção a interacções estruturadas com gerações mais recentes de serviços. O Tumblr (um serviço de blogging lançado em 2007), por exemplo, oferece interfaces estruturadas para diversos tipos de posts diferentes.


A definição da estruturação adequada das acções possibilitadas por uma aplicação devia ser uma preocupação central no desenho da interacção de qualquer serviço.


publicado por tim às 22:57

Quinta-feira, 7 de Outubro de 2010
Escolha da Temática, Títulos

Porque escolhi esta temática

A aplicação de dinâmicas de jogos a diferentes contextos (neste caso específico à web social em contexto educativo) permite-me estudar vários temas que acho bastante interessante. Em primeiro lugar, obviamente, está o estudo de jogos.

Eu tenho um grande interesse em regras e mecânicas de jogos desde o meu primeiro contacto com role-playing games, há uns 12 anos atrás. A simulação quantitativa de eventos da realidade é algo que me fascina desde então. Quando comecei a jogar jogos no computador senti-me sempre atraído por aqueles que me permitissem compreender o sistema de regras que formava a base dos mesmos. Passado vários anos, apercebi-me que existem pessoas dedicadas à concepção destes sistemas de regras, os game designers. Tornar-me um game designer tornou-se então algo como um sonho. Estudar game design, mecânicas e dinâmicas de jogo no contexto desta dissertação é um primeiro passo para a concretização deste sonho.

Para além do estudo de jogos, irei me debruçar sobre a concepção de aplicações da web social "normais", o que implica estudar user experience, design de interacção em contexto web, usabilidade, comunidades online e social interaction design. Esta componente é-me útil para consolidar conhecimentos teóricos na minha área actual de trabalho.

Finalmente, esta dissertação é suposta a dar origem a um serviço funcional. Isto implica que irá haver muito trabalho prático. O que também é óptimo, porque irei ter um projecto extremamente interessante em que também posso consolidar conhecimento (desta vez prático) na minha actual área de trabalho.

Se ainda não perceberam que estou motivado, sinceramente não sei o que dizer mais.


Considerações Iniciais

Aplicações são ferramentas. Partimos para o uso das mesmas com uma ideia +/- fixa sobre como deve decorrer a interacção, ou qual o problema que queremos resolver. Jogos, pelo outro lado, são mais do que ferramentas. Partimos para o "uso" dos mesmos com pouco mais do que alguma curiosidade, e é o próprio jogo que nos "oferece" problemas por resolver. A interacção em si pode ser analisada através de um vocabulário partilhado (proveniente da HCI, usabilidade, design de interacção, etc.), mas a diferença fundamental reside na mente do utilizador, e não na interacção. Compreender o fascínio dos jogos (e utilizá-lo na concepção de aplicações envolventes) tem que passar necessariamente pela compreensão da abordagem intelectual e emocional dos jogadores face aos jogos.



Esta área é muito recente. Não a área do game design e do estudo académico de videojogos, que, embora como campos de estudo serem relativamente recentes, já contam com publicações clássicas e, recentemente, com uma certa inundação de actividade. Estou-me a referir às particularidades do fascínio de videojogos independentemente do seu meio, ou seja, compreender videojogos sem a componente do videojogo. E o meu trabalho não pára aqui, tenho que aplicar o que encontrar na formulação de novos paradigmas de concepção de serviços web. Ufa.


Títulos (3 alternativas)

Penso que a segunda alternativa é a mais viável.


Amanhã há mais.


tags: ,

publicado por tim às 12:06

Sexta-feira, 1 de Outubro de 2010
Recursos na (minha) Wiki

Inspirado no exemplo do meu colega João Ramos, vou usar a minha página pessoal na Wiki para recolher e apresentar recursos.

Neste momento trata-se somente de uma lista de tópicos e links. À medida que for criando mais ordem escrevo posts a descrever o meu trabalho de actualização da Wiki. Pretendo ir criando páginas de artigos próprias para os conceitos, pessoas, eventos, livros etc. principais.

tags: ,

publicado por tim às 00:55

mais sobre mim
Janeiro 2011








todas as tags

subscrever feeds