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Perceptions of Player in Game Design Literature

Sotamaa, O., (2007) Perceptions of Player in Game Design Literature in DiGRA ’07 – Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play pp. 456-465 The University of Tokyo, [September, 2007]

Sotamma presents a literature review, drawing on some of the key texts (published by 2007) to outline that role of the player and how this player might feed into or shape the design process. The papers focus is on Player-Centric Design and draws on notions of the ‘ideal player’, player profiling, and players as co-creators. Sotamma outlines a range of methods to identify the role of the player in the design process; “examining the implied player of different games, by interviewing the designers, through participatory observations or via a detailed analysis of the design process.” (p 456)

Useful quotes
“It is clear that the designers’ formulations of “imagined player” not only shape the design process but also have an influence on the freedom of action players have with the finalized product” (p 456)

“More often than not the player is, however, a theoretical figure that is directed and guided through particular design decisions.” (p 458)

“Several books agree that it is important for a game designer to understand and specify her audience. At the same time there seems to be no mutual understanding of the practical ways of acquiring this understanding” (p 458)

“The attributes connected to this ideal player are mainly based on anecdotal evidence, solitary cases, analogies, personal experience and common knowledge.” (p 459)

“[Bateman and Boons] approach titled demographic game design is based on a conception that all game design inherently targets an audience. Therefore, in order to produce successful products, the first step of game design is to study audiences.” (p 459)

Further Reading
Koster, R. “Player-Centered Design”, 2005. Available:

Sykes, J. (2006) A Player-Centred Approach to Digital Game Design in Rutter, J. and Bryce, J. (eds.) Understanding Digital Games. Sage Publications, London, New York & New Delhi, pp. 75-92.

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