Audience experience in domestic videogaming
Computing and Information Systems
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Document TypePhD thesis
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© 2014 Dr. John Patrick Downs
Videogames are frequently played socially, but not all participants actively play. Audience members observe gameplay, often participating and experiencing the game indirectly. While the existence of non-playing audience members has been previously acknowledged, there have been few attempts to understand what activities audience members engage in while watching videogames, or how their experience is affected by different aspects of the game and social situation. This thesis presents the first substantial body of empirical work on audience behaviour and experience in social videogaming sessions. Existing work was reviewed in a number of areas of literp.ature including the sociality of gameplay, the increasing role of physicality and physical actions in gameplay, and the role of audiences in HCI. Three studies were then conducted based on the research question: How do the sociality and physicality of videogaming sessions influence audience experience? An initial exploratory observational study (N = 6 families) examined the types of activities that audiences engage in while watching highly physical videogames in their homes. This study indicated that audience members can adopt a variety of ephemeral roles that provide them with opportunities to interact with one another, the players, and the game technology. Additionally, participants reported that the physicality of the gameplay heavily influenced their experience. The second study, a naturalistic experimental study (N = 134) consisted of a mixed-model analysis of the factors of game physicality and turn anticipation. Study 2 found that anticipation of a turn affects experience of both audience and player, and similarly found that highly physical games result in more positive audience experiences, although the relationship between physicality and experience is not straightforward. A third study, also an experiment (N = 24), examined the influence of game physicality and visual attention on audience experience within a mediated setting, and a cross-study comparison identified that there appears to be a strong interplay between social context and the experience of physicality. Overall, this thesis contributes an understanding of how sociality, physicality, and the interplay between the two can influence audience behaviour and experience. These findings can be used to inform the design of novel game and interactive experiences that incorporate physicality, turn anticipation, and opportunities for different types of participation in order to influence and enhance audience experience.
Keywordsaudiences; user experience; videogames; human-computer interaction; interaction design; experience; audience experience; social computing; physical videogames
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