Theses 2008

TITLE: Applications of CSP solving in computer games (camera control)

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:M.Sc.
Institution:University of Windsor
Department:School of Computer Science
URL:

Abstract: While camera control systems of commercial 3D games have improved greatly in recent years, they are not as fully developed as are other game components such as graphics and physics engines. Bourne and Sattar (2006) have proposed a reactive constraint based third person perspective camera control system. We have extended the capability of their system to handle occlusion while following the main character, and have used camera cuts to find appropriate camera positions for a few difficult situations. We have developed a reactive constraint based third person perspective chase camera control system to follow a character in a 3D environment. The camera follows the character from (near) optimal positions defined by a camera profile. The desired values of the height and distance constraints of the camera profile are changed appropriately whenever the character enters a semi-enclosed or an enclosed area, and the desired value of the orientation constraint of the camera profile is changed incrementally whenever theoptimal camera view is obstructed. Camera cuts are used whenever the main character backs up to a wall or any other obstructions, or comes out of a semi-enclosed or an enclosed area. Two auxiliary cameras to observe the main camera positions from top and side views have been added. The chase camera control system achieved real-time performance while following the main character in a typical 3D environment, and maintained an optimal view based on a user specified/selected camera profile.

TITLE: The invention of good games: understanding learning design in commercial video games

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:Ph.D.
Institution:University of Calgary
Department:Graduate Division of Educational Research
URL:http://www.minkhollow.ca/Thesis07/doku.php?id=thesis:main

Abstract: This work sought to help inform the design of educational digital games by the studying the design of successful commercial videogames. The main thesis question was: 'How does a commercially and critically successful modern video game support the learning that players must accomplish in order to succeed in the game' ('i.e. get to the end or win ')? This work takes a two-pronged approach to supporting the main argument, which is that the reason we can learn about designing educational games by studying commercial games is that people already learn from games and the best ones are already quite effective at teaching players what they need to learn in order to succeed in the game. The first part of the research establishes a foundation for the argument, namely that accepted pedagogy can be found in existing commercial games. The second part of the work proposes new methods for analysing games that can uncover mechanisms used to support learning in games which can be employed even if those games were not originally designed as educational objects. In order to support the claim that 'good' commercial videogames already embody elements of sound pedagogy an explicit connection is made between game design and formally accepted theory and models in teaching and learning. During this phase of the work a significant concern was raised regarding the classification of games as 'good', so a new methodology using Borda Counts was devised and tested that combines various disjoint subjective reviews and rankings from disparate sources in non-trivial manner that accounts for relative standings. Complementary to that was a meta-analysis of the criteria used to select games chosen as subjects of study as reported by researchers. Then, several games were chosen using this new ranking method and analysed using another new methodology that was designed for this work, called Instructional Ethology. This is a new methodology for game design deconstruction and analysis that would allows the extraction of information about mechanisms used to support learning. This methodology combines behavioural and structural analysis to examine how commercial games support learning by examining the game itself from the perspective of what the game does. Further, this methodology can be applied to the analysis of any software system and offers a new approach to studying any interactive software. The results of the present study offered new insights into how several highly successful commercial games support players while they learn what they must learn in order to succeed in those games. A new design model was proposed, known as the 'Magic Bullet' that allows designers to visualize the relative proportions of potential learning in a game to assess the potential of a design.

TITLE: Gamers as learners: Emergent culture, enculturation, and informal learning in massively multiplayer online games

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:M.Ed.
Institution:York University
Department:Faculty of Education
URL:

Abstract:

TITLE: Video games and second language acquisition: The effect of interactivity with a rhythm video game on second language vocabulary recall, cognitive load, and telepresence

Year:2008
Country:Thesis: Candidate:
Degree:PhD
Institution:New York University
Department:

Communications and Technology ||

Abstract: Commercial video games can be beneficial to second language acquisition; however, interactivity, a fundamental feature of the media, has been nearly ignored in terms of its effect on noticing and recall. In this study, I investigated the effect of video game interactivity on vocabulary acquisition from two perspectives, either that the interactivity would induce extraneous cognitive load and hinder learning, or that the interactivity would make the players experience telepresence (i.e., feel present in the game world) and help learning. Eighty Japanese university undergraduates were randomly selected and paired based on similar language and game proficiencies; one subject played a commercial English-language rhythm video game for 20 minutes and the other subject watched the game simultaneously on a connected monitor. Following the gameplay, subjects completed identical vocabulary recall tests, cognitive load measures (i.e., mental effort and perceived difficulty), telepresence measures, experience questionnaires, and a 2-week delayed vocabulary recall test. Both the players and the watchers of the video game did recall second language vocabulary; however, the players recalled significantly less vocabulary, which seems to be a result of the cognitive load induced by the interactivity of the game. The players and watchers seem to have invested similar mental effort in the game and its language, but the players perceived both to be more difficult than the watchers did. The interactivity appeared to have prevented the players from noticing and recalling vocabulary. The subjects did not differ significantly in their experiences of telepresence, which may be a result of the type of the interactivity in the game. If the interactivity had been more reflective, planned, or purposeful, the players may have felt more present in the world of the video game, and perhaps noticed the vocabulary in a different manner. The interactivity of this game seems to have hindered attention to its vocabulary; however, other types of interactivities may have different results. Further language learning projects should target other types of game interactivity, and students and teachers should consider interactivity’s potential hindrance of learning outcomes.

TITLE: Consistency Maintenance for Multiplayer Video Games

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:M.Sc.
Institution:Kingston : Queen's University
Department:School of Computing
URL:http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk3/OKQ/TC-OKQ-988.pdf, http://qspace.library.queensu.ca/bitstream/1974/988/1/Fletcher_Robert_DS_200801_MSc.pdf

Abstract: Multiplayer games have to support activities which have differing usability requirements. The usability of the system is directly influenced by the choice of consistency maintenance algorithm. These algorithms must accommodate usability requirements while ensuring shared data is accurately replicated. We demonstrate that consistency maintenance in games can be organized around the AMP properties which state that separate nodes can maintain their instances of shared data using different algorithms (asymmetry), multiple consistency maintenance algorithms can be used within an application (multiplicity), and that consistency maintenance algorithms should be created as modular components (plug-replaceability). The motivation for AMP is outlined with a review of examples from commercial 3D games and related research. Consistency maintenance algorithms are shown to exist in a usability trade-off space. A set of usability metrics is introduced and used to experimentally explore this space. Our results imply that no single algorithm is suitable for every in-game situation. The thesis concludes with an informal evaluation of the AMP based on our experience using the Fiaa.NET as an AMP framework. We found that AMP had several weaknesses, but that these were outweighed by the benefits for the developer.

TITLE: Homeless: It's No Game - Measuring the Effectiveness of a Persuasive Videogame

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:MSc
Institution:Simon Fraser University,
Department:School of Interactive Arts and Technology
URL:http://www.siat.sfu.ca/grad/theses/tlavender/

Abstract: To date, there is little empirical evidence for the effectiveness of persuasive games, such as advergames, health-based games and political games. Conceptually, little attention has been given to this issues, save for a few studies done in the early 1970s before the videogame era and some later studies on health-based, educational and advertising-based videogames. The videogame Homeless: it’s no game was developed to test the thesis that the effectiveness of a persuasive videogame can be measured. Volunteers were recruited through the Internet to answer a survey of attitudes towards the homeless and were then assigned to either play the videogame, read a short story about homelessness, or to be part of a control group. The survey was re-administered two weeks later. Results were mixed, with some indicators showing an increase in sympathy towards the homeless and others showing no significant effect. Many questions remain to be explored, such as the effect of non-ludic factors, the duration of the persuasive effect, and whether different issues and different game genres play a role in the effectiveness of persuasive games; however the results do suggest some lines for further inquiry.

TITLE: The “Heat Game”: an augmented reality game for scientific literacy

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:M.A.Ed.
Institution:Mount Saint Vincent University
Department:Education
URL:

Abstract: If we are ever to achieve the goal of redirecting scientific investigation and technological development along more environmentally and socially responsible lines we need to provide students with an opportunity not only to understand information generated through scientific inquiry and technological innovation, but also to understand something of the processes and possible costs and consequences of this work. This kind of understanding might be best achieved by allowing students to gain experience in the real world of science and technology, working to solve real-world challenges and reflecting upon environmental and societal impacts, but such a real world setting is difficult to reproduce in a classroom. This study utilizes an augmented reality game called the 'Heat Game' to provide a simulation of such a science and technology world. The 'Heat Game' is modeled on the augmented reality game 'Mad City Mysteries' (Squire and Jan 2007). In the 'Heat Game' student-participants role play junior professional scientists and engineers working as part of a team to design energy efficient housing. They correspond with virtual expert professionals on laptop computers while engaging in science inquiry and technological design work in the classroom. This preliminary study presents evidence that after participation in the 'Heat Game' students develop some new understandings values and attitudes about the science process, how it is used to construct science knowledge, how science knowledge can be used for technological development; and how making 'wise' technological choices can lead to a reduction in human environmental impact.

TITLE: Beyond Fun and Games: Interactive Theatre and Serious Videogames with Social Impact

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:PhD
Institution:University of Calgary
Department:Interdisciplinary Graduate Program
URL:http://www.lorishyba.com

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to chart the course of my attempts to bring meaning for myself and for others about our world’s energy resources, specifically the Alberta oilsands, through the creation and production of the original artistic case studies Spies in the Oilsands and The Pipeline Pinball Energy Thrill Ride Game. This thesis also explores the use of theatre as a model for new ways of analyzing videogames and ultimately looks at both theatre and games as ways of rehearsing the reality of our future.

The first part is a review of significant influences that relate to the substantive and theoretical aims of the thesis as well as an exposition of the bearing they have on the interdisciplinary research design. The second part describes the creative process and production details of three case studies: Spies in the Oilpatch, Spies in the Oilsands, and The Pipeline Pinball Energy Thrill Ride Game. It also details the interpretive inquiry design that provides the framework for this personal narrative of imagination combining theatre, games, and the urgent issue of our world’s energy resources. The third section features a synergy between theatre, games, and social issues that I have coined “Gamaturgy.” Gamaturgy, in both the creative and reflexive realms, as I describe them, is derived from theatrical dramaturgy and provides new ideas for creating and critically analyzing videogames.

The last section presents the general framework for ways that interactive theatre and serious videogames can enable us to better understand social issues. With the goal of this thesis being to promote understanding, the contributions of the inquiry models and their processes in the pursuit of knowledge are acknowledged, as is the role of interdisciplinarity in the patterning of meanings. Summaries of claims are made in the substantive, theoretical, and methodological domains, and final thoughts are offered about ways of taking action and making a social impact on the issue of world energy.

TITLE: Believability, Adaptivity, and Performativity: Three Lenses for the Analysis of Interactive Storytelling.

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada
Degree:MA
Institution:Simon Fraser University
Department:School of Interactive Arts + Technology
URL:http://josh.thegeekmovement.com/Joshua-Tanenbaum-MA-Thesis-Final.pdf

Abstract: In this thesis I present a methodology for performing analyses of Interactive Narrative experiences, and use this technique both to explicate a particular game—The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion—and to demonstrate the utility of approaching the game via three different analytical perspectives. This methodology is a form of close reading, a technique which was developed in literary theory for the explication of narrative experiences, with roots in earlier epistemological practices such as theological exegesis and hermeneutics. I have focused this thesis on examining and clarifying a technique for reading and explicating these experiences. Interactive Narratives are problematic due to their indeterminate nature and often unwieldy scope; in this thesis I propose a solution to these two problems. My solution takes the form of a series of constrained readings, which I argue allows me to productively explicate specific aspects of my play experiences. By using the notion of analytical lenses to filter my playings, I hope to simultaneously overcome issues of indeterminacy by narrowing the focus of my playing to observations of specific phenomena within the game, and also address issues of scope by reducing the undifferentiated experience of the game to a series of more readily assimilated sub‐experiences. I believe that the method demonstrated within this thesis has utility for theorists of Interactive Narrative and Games, and I contend that the lenses presented herein provide three good examples of possible “constrained close readings”.

TITLE: Adolescent problem gambling: relationship with affect regulation, Internet addiction, and problematic video game playing

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:M.Sc.
Institution:Trent University
Department:Department of Psychology
URL:

Abstract: The purpose of the present study was to examine the links among addiction-related behaviours (specifically problem gambling, internet misuse, and problematic video/computer game addiction) as well as to examine the relationship between these addiction-related behaviours and affect regulation abilities in samples of both community (N = 605) and clinical (N = 201) adolescents. Emotional intelligence was measured using the youth version of the 'Emotional Quotient Inventory' (EQ-i: YV; Bar-On & Parker, 2000), alexithymia was measured using the '20 item Toronto Alexithymia Scale ' ('TAS-20'; Bagby et al., 1994), and the addiction-related behaviors were assessed using the 'Internet Addiction Questionnaire ' ('IADQ'; Young, 1998), the 'Problem Video Game Playing Scale' ('PVGS'; Salguero & Moran, 2002), and the 'South Oaks Gambling Screen-Revised for Adolescents ' ('SOGS-RA'; Winters, Stinchfield, & Fulkerson, 1993). The present study provided preliminary evidence suggesting that addiction-related behaviours including problematic video game playing, internet addiction, and problem gambling can be accounted for by an underlying dysfunctional preoccupation variable, and that affect regulation is a significant predictor of dysfunctional preoccupation.

TITLE: Video game expertise and visual search and discrimination

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:M.A.
Institution:University of Toronto
Department:Department of Psychology
URL:

Abstract: We compared action video game players (VGPs) and non action video game players (NVGPs) in visual search tasks and in a discrimination dual task. In Experiment 1, VGPs showed overall faster response times in three visual search conditions, two of which were preattentive (singleton). However, the VGP advantage was largest in conjunction visual search, which was not preattentive and efficient. This suggests that during conjunction visual search, VGPs have faster stimulus-response mapping and better attention allocation ability, which lead to faster response times. VGPs also showed overall faster reaction times in both the single task conditions and the dual task condition in Experiment 2, and also higher accuracy in the dual task condition. This suggests that VGPs have better task switching ability and attention allocation than NVGPs.

TITLE: Computer-aided exercise

Year:2008
Country:Thesis:Canada Candidate:
Degree:M.Sc.
Institution:Kingston : Queen's University
Department:School of Computing
URL:http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk3/OKQ/C-OKQ-1267.pdf, http://qspace.library.queensu.ca/bitstream/1974/1267/1/Yim_Jeffrey_W_H_200706_MSc.pdf

Abstract: An underlying goal of designers of some exercise video games is to increase people's motivation to exercise. Research in the field of exercise psychology shows that performing physical activity in groups increases exercise participation and adherence. However it is unclear whether the benefits of grouping apply to video games involving physical activity. This research investigates whether the motivational benefits of grouping translate to exercise games. We experimentally validate three properties of collaborative exercise games. Experiments were performed using a custom exercise game, designed with game requirements intended to increase exercise motivation. We discovered that the exercise enjoyment and engagement benefits of grouping do translate to exercise games: players preferred collaborative over single-player exercise games, and found our collaborative exercise game equally enjoyable and engaging in both co-located and distributed settings. Most interesting, non-exercisers and exercisers found the game equally enjoyable and engaging. These results indicate that collaborative exercise video games are a promising approach to helping with exercise enjoyment and engagement, and that developers should consider incorporating multiplayer support into their exercise games.

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