Playing with value: player engagements with videogames as a negotiation of net cultural worth

Salisbury, John Hamon (2013) Playing with value: player engagements with videogames as a negotiation of net cultural worth. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This thesis explains the results of a research programme which set out to empirically
create a theory relating to players’ experience of videogame playing and the
methodology employed in doing so. With the perspective that many empirically derived
or tested contemporary theories are not sufficient for accounting for engagement in the
majority of cases, a semi-inductive theory generation methodology was selected,
interpreted, and employed.
The theoretical concept so derived is that in order to engage with a videogame product
players must find an overall sense of cultural value in the products they encounter. This
sense of value corresponds to games at a feature level, the user making judgements
about salient design features, and is not fixed but is constantly evaluated as the player
encounters the game, from when they are selecting the concept of a game, through play,
to when they are reflecting on the experience in relation to other products. The
evaluation of features seems to involve the player 'identifying' with the individual design
features in that there is an implicit intra personal questioning of “Am I the kind of person
who would play a game with this feature?” which might be described as an expression of
the user's personal culture or assumed socially relative self sense. If they feel that they
are the kind of person who would play a game with that feature then this value
judgement will have a positive influence on their engagement, if they are not then it will
affect the user’s engagement negatively. The features so evaluated in this way can be
any personally salient design feature at all, such as game mechanics, graphical
representation or even packaging. These weighted judgements then act together in
summation to determine the player's potential engagement.

Also included is a justification for the selection, interpretation, application, and
pragmatics of the Classic Grounded Theory Methodology (CGT), as employed in this
programme of research. Grounded Theory (GT) was selected as it initially promised to be
suitably open and exploratory, and advice relating to CGT was employed most often as it
frequently provided the most reasonable set of methods for proceeding. However
substantial effort was required in both understanding what the published advice on
applying the methodology meant, and how it applied to the current problem. Sections
are included which tell the story of the practical process of both attempting to apply the
methodology, and understand the implications of that application at the same time, and
an attempt is made to summarise tricky areas (potential misunderstandings and
seeming myths) and explain the understanding of the methodology relative to these
issues as it was was employed in this research.
In conclusion the derived theory seems to demonstrate a reasonable degree of 'fit' and
'relevance'; a conclusion which is supported by a survey of academic and industry
specialists. As such, the methodology employed might be said to be useful in generating
novel theoretical results. Also, the theory can be expressed as a substantive
instantiation of existing general theories of human cultural behaviour such as Cooley's
'Looking Glass Self' (1902). It is also felt that the theory could be readily modified to
account for further insights into the domain. These conclusions suggest that the
hypotheses generated are useful for investigating the domain of videogame play and
engagement.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: A thesis submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Design Engineering and Mathematics
B. > Theses
Item ID: 12636
Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2013 08:34
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2019 19:28
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/12636

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