Marjorie Ann Cuerdo and Edward Melcer. (2020). “’I’ll Be Back’: A Taxonomy of Death and Rebirth in Platformer Video Games”. In Extended Abstracts of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '20, Honolulu, HI, USA. ACM.
Edward F. Melcer and Marjorie Ann M. Cuerdo. (2020). “Death & Rebirth in Platformer Games”. In Game User Experience and Player-Centered Design. Springer.
Failure is a central aspect of almost every game, driving player perceptions of difficulty and impacting core aspects of game user experience. At the heart of failure in many game genres is player death, and platformer games in particular rely heavily on the use of death within their design. This work addresses the rich, underexplored space of in-game death (and respawning) through the creation of a generalized taxonomy of death in platformer games. The taxonomy consists of five notable dimensions: (1) obstacles, (2) death conditions, (3) aesthetics, (4) changes to player progress, and (5) respawn locations. These different dimensions have a number of potential implications for key aspects of player experience and design. The taxonomy could also be used to help improve the effectiveness of related engagement techniques such as dynamic difficulty adjustment.
We then explored how altering the consequences of death on player progress affected aspects of the player experience. Specifically, our research investigated the relationship of death and respawning mechanics – precisely the location of respawn points – to player experience (PX) constructs, such as mastery, challenge, autonomy, curiosity, and immersion. We developed a simple 2D platformer game that only differed in respawn point locations: the start of the game (permadeath), the start of a level, the last reached checkpoint, and the last manually saved point.
Katelyn Grasse, Marjorie Ann Cuerdo, and Edward Melcer. (2021). “Mad Mixologist: Exploring How Object Placement in Tangible Play Spaces Affects Collaborative Interaction Strategies”. In Proceedings of the 3rd IEEE Conference on Games (CoG). IEEE.Abstract
Tangible games afford an engaging and often unique
form of hybrid play (i.e., physical-digital elements), but there
is currently limited work explicitly exploring how these games
can be designed to provide spatial affordances that implicitly
encourage collaboration. In this paper, we present a novel collaborative tangible game, titled Mad Mixologist, and investigate
how making a simple change in the location of game objects
within the tangible play space can lead to significantly different
collaborative interaction strategies. The results from our group
comparison study indicate that 1) players with exclusively direct
access to multiple relevant resources (i.e., a digital instruction
and a physical object) were more likely to assume responsibility
for completing tasks in a shared play space and 2) distributing
these same task-relevant resources across multiple players created
ambiguity over whether the player with the digital or physical
resource should engage with the shared play space. This study
demonstrates one possible way in which the physical design of a
tangible game can be arranged to implicitly encourage players
to develop more collaborative interaction strategies, specifically
by distributing exclusive resources across players. Overall, this
study highlights and reinforces the connection between spatial
affordances and social interactions via embodied facilitation
within the context of collaborative tangible games.