Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Analysing Player Experience

UM LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DEPARTMENT Institute of Digital Games

DESCRIPTION Games can be approached from two broad perspectives: games as media objects and games as activities. The first was the domain of the Formal Properties of Games course in the previous semester. The second perspective on games, that is, the experiential dimensions of game-play, is the focus of this study-unit.

The study-unit will examine different aspects of player experience including involvement, immersion, presence, perceptions of space, emotions in games and experiential narrative. All these topics involve an understanding of games as a dynamic object that is effected by and effects the human participant that is part of its feedback loop. This means that all the topics covered in this course will address the human mind's role in cybernetic media.

A second focus of the study-unit is the critical analysis of games for both analytical and design purposes. The study-unit will involve a series of sessions of critical play accompanied by on and off-line discussion by the students on the methods covered.

Like previous Game Analysis courses before it, the course will combine theoretical concepts delivered through lectures with hands-on analysis during workshop hours. Students will also analyze two games closely using the experiential models discussed during the course.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit aims to give students a grounding in game research that deals with player experience and other issues relating to the networked, social mind. It also aims to sharpen student's critical abilities.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Have an understanding of the experiential side of game interaction;
- Have an overview of the main issues related to researching experience within game studies and related disciplines such as media psychology, philosophy of new media etc;
- Appreciate the connected human mind as the key difference between games and earlier, non-interactive media;
- Gain an understanding of different models describing involvement and immersion in games;
- Conduct thorough critical analysis of games based on existing theoretical perspectives.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Analyze player experience using a variety of theoretical and empirical tools;
- Analyze games from experiential perspectives understanding the effect of formal properties of games on player experience;
- Present critical analysis of games through strong argumentation and solid structure.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Bissell, Tom. Calleja, Gordon. In-Game: From Immersion to Incorporation (2011).
Murray, Janet. Hamlet on the Holodeck (2005).
Nitsche, Michael, Video Game Spaces (2010).
Skalski P. & Campanella Bracken. Immersed in Media: Telepresence in Everyday Life (2010).

Additional papers and chapters will be provided electronically

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Qualifications: First Degree in Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences or IT

Pre-requisite Study-unit: Digital Game Theory I

Unit offered at Post Graduate Level.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Reflective Diary SEM2 No 10%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 90%

LECTURER/S Gordon Calleja (Co-ord.)
Costantino Oliva
Daniel Vella


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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.