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Do Non Player Characters dream of electric sheep?: A thesis about Players, NPCs, Immersion and Believability
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences. (ACT in Communication with Technology)
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This is a thesis that deals with the norms and rules of players playing online games together. It is also a thesis about believability, the current capabilities of non-player characters (NPCs) and the attitudes amongst game developers towards dynamic and systemic games AI.

The primary theme of this thesis considers which means of communication and coordination in terms of norms and rules are present in groups of players and particularly in guilds and clans playing Massively Multi Online Games (MMOGs) and First Person Shooters (FPSs) respectively. The presence of norms in these types of groups has been overlooked in previous research even though guilds have been addressed to some extent. When rules have been discussed in games research, the actual use, meaning and interpretation behind these rules from a player perspective has been omitted. In this thesis rules and norms are interpreted from a guild and clan perspective as important means for coordination, used in order to keep the group together. The implicit rules are further seen as implicit rules made explicit through guild and clan forums where these groups of players express how to preserve the shared game experience. The absence of rituals, norms and rules has also been studied in temporary groups of one MMOG, with the explanation that existing relations with other players are maintained in these game sessions, but new relations are usually seen as too costly to invest in.

The second theme is directed at believability and the state of current NPCs, how immersion is influenced by NPCs that do not act in believable ways. The second theme is also influenced by the first theme, whereby rules and norms are seen as valuable tools for creating believability in NPCs, directly targeting the social layer, a slightly overlooked area of research.

The last section is directed at applying the results from the first section, how players play by the rules and norms of the group, and how this could foster believability in NPCs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kista: Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, Stockholm University , 2013. , 102 p.
Series
Report Series / Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, ISSN 1101-8526 ; 13-004
Keyword [en]
Social norms, MMOGs, MORPGs, FPS, Clans, Guilds, Rules, NPCs, Games AI, Game Design, Game evaluation tools, Immersion, Believability
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89293ISBN: 978-91-7447-708-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-89293DiVA: diva2:616929
Public defence
2013-06-07, Sal C, Forum 100, Isafjordsgatan 39, Kista, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: In press. Paper 5: In press. Paper 6: In press.

Available from: 2013-05-16 Created: 2013-04-19 Last updated: 2013-06-14Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Demystifying guilds: MMORPG-playing and norms
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Demystifying guilds: MMORPG-playing and norms
2009 (English)In: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory, 2009Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
National Category
Information Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-33405 (URN)
Conference
DiGRA 2009 Innovation in Games
Available from: 2009-12-23 Created: 2009-12-23 Last updated: 2013-04-22Bibliographically approved
2. ‘If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun’: A study on guilds and clans in online games
Open this publication in new window or tab >>‘If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun’: A study on guilds and clans in online games
2013 (English)In: Journal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds, ISSN 1757-191X, E-ISSN 1757-1928, Vol. 5, no 1, 77-95 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

How groups create and sustain internal social order is a general topic of interest to researchers in game studies. In game studies, most research has looked at social order processes during game play, while little attention has been directed at groups of players such as guilds in massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) or clans in first-person shooters (FPS) in between game sessions. Groups are not dissolved between gaming sessions, nor are all rules implicit. This article explores the way groups of players create and sustain order within their groups between games as well as by using explicit norm declarations. Starting from the most common descriptions of rules in social and behavioural science literature this article analyses the public announcements in group forums of the rules, twenty guilds and ten clans playing either MMOGs or FPS games have published. Not surprisingly, both genre and player motivation play a large role in the selection and creation of rules for guilds and clans. One of the most common types of behaviour addressed in the guild/ clan rules, ‘griefing’, needs a more sophisticated analysis than used in previous game research. Finally, a list of ‘game commandments’ that summarize the rule sets from both guilds and clans is presented. This article positions user-created rules as implicit rules made explicit and also indicates a need for a thorough investigation of how players make sense of their social sphere online. 

Keyword
clans, guilds, rules, MMOGs, FPS, online games
National Category
Information Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89322 (URN)10.1386/jgvw.5.1.77_1 (DOI)
Available from: 2013-04-22 Created: 2013-04-22 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Social play?: a study of social interaction in temporary group formation (PUG) in World of Warcraft
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social play?: a study of social interaction in temporary group formation (PUG) in World of Warcraft
2010 (English)In: Proceedings of DiGRA Nordic 2010: Experiencing Games: Games, Play, and Players (2010), 2010Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

One of the main components and reasons for the success of the Massive Multiplayer Online Games genre (MMOG) is that these games are seen as arenas for social interaction. The focus of this paper is the phenomenon of “Pick up Groups ” (PUGs), a neglected aspect of online gaming. How is the social interaction structured in these temporary groups?

The results of a participant observation study reveal a low level of social interaction between PUG players. Communication is held to a minimum and dungeons completed at high speed. Even in the event of downtime, interaction is rare. What little interaction has been observed is divided into instrumental and sociable interaction. A higher level of sociable interaction was found when several players from the same guild played together in the same group. But looking at greetings and goodbyes, normally used to acknowledge an ongoing social situation, we see that the social engagement in most PUGs is low.

In summary, social interaction in PUGs, if any, is mainly instrumental, making these temporary groups unsocial game experiences; something not normally associated with group play in the MMOG genre.

Keyword
PuG, Sociability, Social Interaction, Looking for group, World of Warcraft
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Human-Machine-Interaction (MMI)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-51993 (URN)
Conference
DiGRA Nordic 2010: Experiencing Games: Games, Play, and Players (2010), First Nordic Digra August 16-17, 2010, Stockholm, Sweden
Available from: 2011-01-12 Created: 2011-01-12 Last updated: 2013-10-01Bibliographically approved
4. Model of social believable NPCs for teacher training using Second Life
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Model of social believable NPCs for teacher training using Second Life
2011 (English)In: Computer Games (CGAMES), 2011 16th International Conference on, IEEE conference proceedings, 2011, 270-274 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper explores the possibilities for believable game agents (NPCs) through the implementation of a Model Social Game Agent (MSGA). We present a high level model focusing on the conceptual framework for implementing MSGAs on a Second Life server.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE conference proceedings, 2011
Keyword
NPC models, social NPCs, social agents, agent models, social believable agents
National Category
Information Science
Research subject
Man-Machine-Interaction (MMI)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63480 (URN)10.1109/CGAMES.2011.6000351 (DOI)978-1-4577-1451-1 (ISBN)
Conference
2011 16th International Conference on Computer Games: AI, Animation, Mobile, Interactive Multimedia, Educational & Serious Games (CGAMES)
Available from: 2011-11-17 Created: 2011-10-20 Last updated: 2013-04-22Bibliographically approved
5. Complexity at the cost of control in game design?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Complexity at the cost of control in game design?
2012 (English)In:  , Global Science and Technology Forum (GSTF) , 2012Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper describes the Model Social Game Agent (MSGA) and presents a comparison to existing strategies to create NPC behavior in video games. We present the results of a survey and an interview-study ofprofessional game developers, designers and scholars with a focus onthe social behavior of NPCs in existing gamesand the potential advantages and disadvantages of the MSGA. The results indicate that there are concerns regarding choosing to implement games AI as systemic AI (such as the MSGA) over an implementation based on scripting and behavior trees.Another question raised is the actual benefits of systemic AI and in what sense it would change the player experience. One of the potential gains of introducing theMSGA in game design would be to open upopportunitiesfor new modes of play and also open up for unexplored design spaces.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Global Science and Technology Forum (GSTF), 2012
Keyword
NPCs, Believable NPCs, Game Design, MSGA, Game AI, Believability, Intelligent Agents
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82220 (URN)10.5176/2251-1679_CGAT15 (DOI)
Conference
5th Annual International Conference on Computer Games, Multimedia and Allied Technology (CGAT 2012), 7th - 8th May 2012, Bali, Indonesia
Available from: 2012-11-12 Created: 2012-11-12 Last updated: 2013-10-01Bibliographically approved
6. Analyzing AI in NPCs: An analysis of twelve games
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Analyzing AI in NPCs: An analysis of twelve games
2014 (English)In: Multiplayer: the social aspects of digital gaming / [ed] Thorsten Quandt, Sonja Kröger, London: Routledge, 2014Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this chapter we analyze the AI in NPCs in different games. In 2 studies we apply and develop a method for analyzing game AI based on a framework developed for classifying social theories and their ontological differences. Using observation during game play and analysis of the video captures of the game play we can see that the main focus of game AI on path finding has paid off but that the social believability of NPC behavior has not developed at all.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2014
Keyword
NPCs, Artificial Intelligence, believable agents, model social agent, game AI
National Category
Media Studies
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89317 (URN)978-0-415-82885-7 (ISBN)
Available from: 2013-04-22 Created: 2013-04-22 Last updated: 2015-02-24Bibliographically approved

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