作者：Steve Bromley, Graham McAllister, Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Jonathan Napier
在多人游戏中，社交互动成为了一种越来越重要的主题。Wii的成功以及它所强调的休闲多人游戏，如《Wii Sports》或者《Just Dance》，都证明了让玩家与好友一起玩游戏，能够让游戏获得更广泛的用户基础并创造出更深刻的体验。
对于开发者来说，他们必须掌握现有的社交互动类型，并在游戏开发过程中衡量自己所侧重的类型。从Relentless Software和Vertical Slice的合作中，我们得出了一套方法论，能够帮助开发者从最早的游戏原型设计中便开始评估游戏的互动性。
Voida, Carpendale和Greenberg在他们的学术论文《The Individual and the Group in Console Gaming》中分析了玩家在《吉他英雄》，《马里奥派对》以及《马里奥赛车》等多人社交游戏中的行为。通过观察并记录玩家在这些游戏中的不同行为，他们将互动性分为六大类型，如下表所示。Ackermann同样也展开了一项研究，即通过观察并分析LAN party（游戏邦注：由一群人暂时性、通常也是自发性的带著他们的电脑，在一个地方将电脑以局域网路连结的聚会）中玩家的互动形式，并记录下一些相似的互动分类。
这些玩家是来自于一些现有的社会团体，以此能够更容易推动他们进行互动。让两名玩家一起玩《Buzz! Quiz World》（游戏邦注：这是一款由Relentless Software开发的社交益智游戏）。
对于这类型的玩家，开发者可以通过提供给玩家更多获得胜利的机制而确保游戏的用户粘性。早前游戏，如《马里奥赛车》或者《Buzz! Quiz World》决赛中的“rubber banding”机制便都体现了这一点，即在最后游戏关卡中将玩家之前所获得的分数变成其最后一回合的抢先优势。
《Buzz! Quiz World》的“Pie Fight”回合特别强调了这一点，即玩家如果回答错误便会遭到馅饼的袭击；以及在“Over the Edge”回合中，当玩家落向烂泥槽时，其情绪反应级别便会明显地向上窜升。
在像《Buzz! Quiz World》这类型的小游戏中，如果对手不知道问题的正确答案，对于玩家来说便具有优势；但是对于成就者来说，他们希望能够大声说出答案，以此显示自己的知识渊博，即使必须以游戏失败为代价。显然，对于这类型玩家来说，声望比起任何游戏目标都重要。
（在“Over The Edge”回合中，当玩家落向烂泥槽时，成就者的GSR信号（绿色）便会达到最高值。）
这一研究主要呈现了社交小游戏《Buzz! Quiz World》中不同玩家类型，包括喜欢嘲弄别人的高度竞争型杀手玩家，夸夸其谈的成就者，以及重视团体协作的社交家等所体现出的不同社交互动形式。而不同游戏类型，从第一人称射击游戏到角色扮演游戏对于这一方法的使用也将体现出不同玩家类型的不同交互特征。同时这一方法也能够帮助开发者更好地探索更大群体玩家间的社交互动变化。
Playing to Win? Measuring Social Interaction in Games
by Steve Bromley, Graham McAllister, Pejman Mirza-Babaei, Jonathan Napier
Why is Social Interaction Important?
Social interaction is becoming an increasingly important theme in multiplayer gaming. The success of the Wii, and its focus on casual multiplayer games such as Wii Sports or Just Dance, has highlighted how important playing with friends is to reaching wider audiences and creating successful game experiences.
For developers, it’s therefore important to be able to understand the types of social interaction that exist, and measure them during the development of games. In a collaboration between Relentless Software and Vertical Slice, we have been developing a methodology to allow developers to evaluate interaction from the very earliest prototypes.
This not only allows developers to measure the forms of interaction evident in their game but also, through increasing our ability to profile players, allows developers to target games towards specific gamer types.
Understanding Social Interaction
In order to measure social interaction, it is first important to define the types of interaction that occur during multiplayer collocated (i.e. sat in the same room) gaming.
Voida, Carpendale, and Greenberg, in their paper The Individual and the Group in Console Gaming, observed people playing multiplayer social games such as Guitar Hero, Mario Party and Mario Kart. By noting and defining the forms of behavior evident in these sessions, they categorized interaction into six groups, presented below. Ackermann also conducted a study, coding and analyzing the forms of interaction noted by players at LAN parties, and noted similar interaction categories.
By combining their research with data from previous Relentless Software usability tests, the following categories of interaction were defined:
Voida et al.’s Original Category
Revised Social Interaction Category
Constructing Shared Awareness
Shared Awareness includes building a shared awareness of the game state, and can include collaborative working out, giving hints, or making another player aware of something within the game, such as game mechanics or “what to do”. It can also include reporting to other players what activities you are performing within the game.
“Let me have the health pack, I’m low on health”
Requesting Information typically includes asking about what is happening in game, how the game works, or how to achieve their goal. It can also include asking other players to report their status. It is often combined with a period of shared awareness.
“How do I solve this puzzle?”
Reinforcing Shared History
Shared History includes discussing what happened earlier in the game, or in a prior play session. May include links to other games, or with players not present.
“Remember when we beat that boss?”
Sharing in Success and Failure
Shared Success includes celebrating a group success, or congratulating another player on their success. It can include a group celebration despite being in a competitive situation.
“Well done, that was really hard!”
Shared Failure includes taking group responsibility for failing a task, offering reassurance, or commiserating with a player who has failed a task. It does not include blame (which may be more appropriate under Trash Talk).
“It’s not your fault, it was a difficult question!”
Engaging in Interdependence and Self-Sacrifice
Team Optimization includes discussing the group dynamics, or negotiating an individual’s contribution to the group. It can include assessing the ability of others, and discussions over who is leading or in control. Can also include denying players the chance to join in.
“Let me do this bit, I’m better at math!”
Trash Talk includes celebrating your own success over the other players, or laughing at their failure. This can be in competitive or collaborative game types, and often involves put downs or insults.
Falling Prey to the computer’s holding power
Self Indulgence includes not playing the game at the expense of other players’ enjoyment, making up one’s own meta-game, or not participating fully, leading to a disruption of the flow of the game. It can include repeatedly performing the same action (i.e. viewing a hidden in-game feature or Easter egg).
“My character’s going to have a nap now.”
Off Topic includes discussing non-game based interaction or discussion
“Nice weather we’re having!”
Bart Stewart recently discussed the use of models for player types, and noted that the most popular model from Bartle divides players into four types, as follows. We have also used the same idea of player types as a way to distinguish between each player’s individual motivations.
Killers are interested in combat/competition with other human players, and prefer this over interaction with non-player characters.
Achievers are most interested in gaining points or alternative in-game measurements of success. These players will often go out of their way to gain items that have no in-game benefit besides prestige, such as Achievements’ or Trophies.
These players are interested in discovering the breadth of a game, and will explore new areas or take non-optimal routes to explore. They do not like time limits, since this limits the potential to explore options.
These players are interested in the social aspect of game play, rather than the game itself. They enjoy interacting with other players, and use the game primarily as a means of communication.
In Bartle’s theory, each individual player’s motivation stretches across each group, with a player being scored in each category, i.e. 80 percent killer, 10 percent socializer, 10 percent achiever.
For this study, the online Bartle Test was utilized, which asks the user 30 questions, before giving them a Bartle player type. For analysis of the results, we divided players by their type.
Measuring Social Interaction
To understand how social interaction differs across player types, and to show the application of the methodology for measuring social interaction, we ran eight lab sessions, each with two collocated players, 30 minutes of playtime, and triangulated social interaction, biometric, and player interview data to gain a better understanding of the forms, and effects, of social interaction during gameplay.
The players were picked from pre-existing social groups to encourage interaction. Pairs of players were asked to play a game of Buzz! Quiz World, the social quiz game created by Relentless Software.
During these sessions, a custom tool, created in Processing, was used to record the forms of social interaction noted, and automatically timestamp the data for further analysis.
Throughout the session GSR (galvanic skin response) data was taken, measuring how their body reacted to the in-game events and the forms of social interaction noted.
GSR has a linear correlation with arousal (such as excitement or frustration) and reflects non-specific emotional response. The GSR data was presented on a timeline, and was later correlated with the social interaction data.
After the session, players were asked to record their experience on blank graph paper, and annotate this. This was done unprompted, before interviewing the players, to ensure that a fair representation of their memories of the session, and the events/interaction that occurred during it, could be evaluated.
The custom social interaction recording tool
The players were then interviewed while watching a video of their play session in order to gain an understanding of what they were thinking throughout the session. When prompted by peaks in the GSR signal or a-typical social interaction behavior, the players were asked to describe what they were thinking or doing at that moment. This gave increased insight into why players were acting as they were, not just how they acted.
A player’s self-assessed “experience” graph
What Did We Find?
As mentioned, we broke the results down by the four player types, to gain greater insight into the motivations behind each form of interaction noted.
Killers, who as we noted are most interested in defeating other players, showed the highest degree of the “trash talk” behavior, insulting and goading their opponent.
It was also interesting to note that Killers’ levels of arousal, as identified by GSR, and social interaction, dropped significantly when it was obvious they were going to win — they are only interested in “worthy” opponents, as was confirmed later by the interviews.
A Killer’s self assessed “experience” graph
Their desire for defeating other players could be realized and emphasized in game through the introduction of taunt mechanics in games, as are found in many fighters.
Game mechanics can be introduced to ensure continued engagement by ensuring that all players always have the opportunity to win. This has previously been seen through the rubber banding in games such as Mario Kart, or the final round of Buzz! Quiz World, which converts the score players have earned throughout the game into a head start in the last round.
Achievers, who are defined by their interest in visibly demonstrating their success at a game, showed the highest level of interaction and arousal when the game displayed a visible indication of their progress.
In Buzz! Quiz World, this was noted particularly for the Pie Fight round, where the players received a pie in the face for an incorrect answer, and in the Over the Edge round, which raised players who were doing badly towards a sludge tank.
In their interactions, it was also noted that achievers were prepared to give up their advantage to verbally demonstrate that they knew the answer.
In trivia games like Buzz! there is an advantage if your opponent doesn’t know the right answer; however, achievers were noted to say their answers out loud while answering, demonstrating their superior knowledge, at the cost of in-game success. Evidently prestige is more important than the game’s defined objectives.
Achievers described how they’d like further rewards in game, as demonstrated by comments that they’d like the audience to chant their name in-game.
As such, a game can be tailored towards encouraging interaction from achievers by offering the opportunity to visibly display success in each round against their opponent, not just through badges and trophies, but through in-game mechanics, such as stats and support!
A player falling towards the sludge in Over The Edge, with a visible peak in the Achiever’s GSR signal (green)
Among socializers, it was noted that their interaction was primarily collaborative. Socializers would work together with their opponent, and discuss the choice of rounds to ensure that they both shared enjoyment in the game session, whereas other player types often chose categories their opponent would perform poorly in.
Socializers demonstrated the high degree of “shared awareness” verbal interactions, and discussed the answers. Unlike achievers, this interaction was collaborative and involved two players working out the correct answer to the questions together. It was also noted that socializers were uninterested in the progress of the game, and showed a low level of GSR arousal to in-game events, compared to other player types.
Due to the high level of arousal noted when socializers talked to one another, the recommendation can be made to emphasize communication between the players, even in typically competitive gameplay, to ensure that they remain engaged in the game. This can be achieved through development of plot or the use of humor.
Explorers, who are defined by their interest in exploring and understanding the breadth and depth of the game and its mechanics, also demonstrated a high level of cooperative interaction — and, like socializers, worked together with other players while describing what was happening in the game.
They showed the highest level of interaction when engaged by new challenges, such as selecting the topic for a new round, discovering the mechanics of the round, or being asked new questions. Explorers also demonstrated a high level of interest in the visual aspects of the game, such as describing what their in-game avatars were doing at the time. Like socializers, they were not engaged by Buzz!’s overt success goals, and a explorer even said “I’m not interested if I win or lose.”
When targeting games towards explorers, it is important to display a wide variety in content, both in the game mechanics and graphically. Minigame collections, such as WarioWare and Mario Party are good examples of games that encourage social interaction from explorers.
An Important Note
It is important to recognize in the recommendations for all player types that optimizing a game towards one player type may create a detrimental experience for other types, and hence it will be important for the design team to evaluate the results of this method against their development goals.
Developed in partnership with Relentless Software, the methodology for live-coding the forms of social interaction that occur during gameplay allows great insight into precisely what elements of a game cause reactions with players. The application of this methodology during development can allow designers to tailor a game towards emphasizing specific forms of interaction, or targeting specific player types.
This study has shown how the forms of social interaction differ for each player type in the social trivia game Buzz! Quiz World, from the taunting of highly competitive killers, the boasting of achievers, or the collaborative discussion of socializers. The application of this to different game types, from FPSs to RPGs, would reveal interesting distinct traits in the interactions found among each player type in response to more directly competitive play. There is also potential to explore how social interaction changes among larger groups of players.（source:gamasutra）