Could you definite the genesis of your project financed by Game in Lab ?
Our project has come from our interests in different types of games, and particularly from Melissa’s PhD research which looked at the experience of play of boardgames. We found that players value the materiality of boardgames – being able to touch and feel them, to see them, to hear the sounds of the pieces – even to smell them. We wanted to reconcile this with the increasing number of hybrid games that are being produced and sold, and to understand what those hybrid games offer in terms of gameplay.
Could you please introduce us your project team ?
There are two primary members of our project team.
Dr Melissa Rogerson is an Early Career Researcher in the School of Computing and Information Systems at The University of Melbourne, Australia, where she teaches subjects in Human-Computer Interaction and Information Systems. Melissa completed her PhD, “Between Cardboard and Computer: The hobbyist experience of modern boardgames” in 2018. A long-time boardgamer, Melissa has blogged about boardgames, has been a member of the administration team on boardgamegeek.com and of the juries of Boardgames Australia and the International Gamers’ Awards, has translated award-winning games from German to English, regularly appears in local media as a boardgame correspondent, and was (once) a member of her state’s Youth Bridge team. Her research has examined what hobbyist boardgamers enjoy about playing games, the importance of cooperation in play, and the “Digital hinterlands” that surround boardgame play. More information: www.melissarogerson.com
Martin Gibbs is an Associate Professor in the School of Computing and Information Systems at The University of Melbourne, Australia. His research interests examine
- How people use a variety of interactive technologies (video games, community networks, mobile phones; etc) for convivial and sociable purposes in a variety of situations (intimate strong-tie relationships, local neighbourhoods, work-based occupational communities, online computer games).
- The social dynamics of digital and board games.
- Digital commemoration and the use of interactive technologies at end-of-life, including the future cemetery.
More information: https://cis.unimelb.edu.au/people/martin-gibbs
Which research results are you expecting ? What are the next steps ?
There are two main directions for this research.
The first is to find out why people play hybrid boardgames. We will be launching a survey shortly which seeks to understand what it is about these games that players like or don’t like, and why. We will also conduct interviews with people who work in the boardgame industry, to see what their opinions are and how they contrast or align with what players tell us.
The second part of our research attempts to identify, describe and classify the different functions played by the digital elements in hybrid boardgames. For example, we know that many games use apps to time the game, or to cross-check or combine different pieces of information. We are developing this strand of our research through two activities: an online classification activity, which we hope to launch in around October, and sessions where we play some games with our colleagues, taking notes about how the apps are used in the game. Being a game researcher is pretty fun sometimes!
In future, we hope to extend this research to games that use other forms of digital device – for example, components with digital elements. By identifying what function a digital element plays in a game, we can discover opportunities for further innovation and develop a language for talking about this new type of game.
What kind of message could you send to the both scientific and boardgame communities ?
I am passionate about the idea that it is enough to study games as games. A great deal of games research – and particularly research involving boardgames or hybrid games – treats the game as a research tool or as a way to learn more about something. Yes, we can apply what learn from games in other settings, but knowing more about the way people interact with games and the enjoyment that they receive from play, is a valid goal in itself.
A motto to conclude ?
Play is important because it is play, not because of what we can learn from it.