Exercise 2: Analyzing Game Play


To complete this exercise, you will:

  1. Arrange to observe someone playing a multi-player game over a period of at least 20 minutes.
  2. Note the kinds of interactions that player has over that time period on a given paper form.
  3. Input your notes onto an online form by the date specified below.

Playing Boggle

Detailed Process

Choosing a Game and a Player

  • The game you choose can be a tabletop game or one that involves a computer or handheld device.
  • The game should be played continuously in one sittlng (i.e., not Words with Friends)
  • The game should pit individuals against each other, not teams (which would add more complexity)
  • The game need not be designed as educational, but should require some kind of thinking involving words or numbers. (i.e., not a mostly psychomotor game like Jenga or Twister)
  • There has to be at least one other player for your target player to interact with, and there must be a way for your player to communicate with the other player during the game. (e.g. a chat window).
  • The game should be at least somewhat familiar to all players.

Observing the Game

  • Inform the players that this is a class project in which you are studying how different games encourage different kinds of actions by each player.
  • Assure the players that their names will not appear anywhere in your report and that we're not judging how well they perform at the game.
  • Print out several copies of the GEOP, bring a pen and a clipboard to write on.
  • Have a timer with accuracy down to the second in front of you. There are many smartphone apps that can serve this purpose nicely.
  • If everyone is very familiar with the game, you can start the timer at the start of the game. If not, have players go through a practice round or wait until everyone is settled into the game before starting to record your observations.
  • Record the elapsed time on the GEOP form along with a sentence or two about what the player is doing and the state of the game. The first observation should start at 0:00.
  • IMPORTANT: Whenever the behavior of your player changes, start a new row on the form and record the elapsed time and your short notes. Every second should be accounted for.
  • Continue observation until at least 20 minutes has elapsed and the game has arrived at a logical breakpoint like the end of a round.
  • Ask the player what they did and didn't like about the game and have them rate it on a scale of 1 - 10.

Filled in GEOP form

Categorizing Observations

  • You may tag your observations as you go, or wait to do it immediately after the observation period is over. Don't postpone this for more than an hour or you'll forget details.
  • Use the tags on page 1 of the GEOP to describe each row. There are four places to write in a tag, allowing you to describe a specific behavior as a mixture of more than one category. If a player was completing a move in her turn while talking about why she made that move, you might tag that segment as PG PG GM GM. If, on the other hand, they were making their move while chatting about the latest episode of Doctor Who, it might be tagged as GM PS PS PS.
  • In a turn-based game, the most common tag you might use is GW if the player has nothing much to do between turns. If they zone out completely and turn their attention inward or to something else, tag that with an O.

Reporting Observations

By September 16, an online form will be ready for you to type in your data. The logic behind that form will perform a number of calculations and provide a quantified snapshot of the game you watched along with everyone else's. We'll use those data to inspire our class discussion on Monday, September 23.

Due Date

Saturday, September 21, 2013. All observations must be typed into the online form by 11pm Pacific Time.

Return to the EDTEC 670 syllabus.