A new paper by Drs. Katta Spiel and Lennart Nacke, “What Is It Like to Be a Game?—Object Oriented Inquiry for Games Research, Design, and Evaluation”, published in the journal Frontiers in Computer Science as part of the Research Topic "Games and Play in HCI", explores how an object-oriented philosophy could provide new insights to the way Human-Computer Interaction scholars approach games user research, essentially removing the users from the equation and playfully engaging with the game.
Spiel and Nacke explain that an Object-Oriented Inquiry would disentangle our assumption that technologies are objects and humans are subjects. Instead, it offers a speculative lens to consider technologies as subjects, allowing the authors to explore questions like “what’s it like to be a game?”. According to the authors, attending to a game’s perspective can be useful in generating meaningful insights for game design and evaluation.
“It was not our aim to establish what a given game is”, explains Dr. Lennart Nacke, “but rather explored how we can know what it might be like to be a game and how we might know about it differently using speculative object-oriented approaches”.
Holistic game design – designing for the game as a complete experience with emotions and materiality beyond the core features – creates opportunities for broader playful engagements. The methodological explorations offered by Spiel and Nacke explain how to achieve this by breaking the process down into becoming, being, and acting as a game.
An object-oriented approach can be limited in the ways it takes player experience account: “it is a somewhat apolitical perspective to take, one that does not lend itself well to transformative research,” note the authors.
“Given the political and transformative potential speculative design itself has brought forward, we see potential in the development of object-oriented methods that include such considerations.”
- Dr. Katta Spiel