HeimatBeatz: Hip-Hop-Song aus Stadtteil-Geräuschen reloaded

2012 haben wir Local Beatz in der Freizeitstätte KistE durchgeführt. Die Jungs und Mädels der KistE haben Töne aufgenommen, diese zu einem Beat verarbeitet, dazu zum Thema „Hasenbergl“ (dem Stadtviertel) getextet und gerapped. Das Projekt lief insgesamt sehr positiv aber wir hatten beim ersten Durchlauf drei Probleme identifiziert:

Heimat Beatz in der Freizeitstätte KistE

  1. Das Beschneiden der aufgenommenen Töne ist relativ nervig und langwierig, weswegen wir als Pädagogen es übernommen haben.
  2. Es konnte an vielen Stellen im Haus getextet werden, es konnten aber immer nur wenige im Studio am Beat arbeiten oder aufnehmen.
  3. Zwar hatten ein paar Mädels getextet aber keines wollte rappen. Insgesamt war es schwierig Mädchen zur Mitarbeit zu motivieren.

Bei der Weiterentwicklung des Projektes unter dem Namen „HeimatBeatz“ haben wir uns diesen drei Problemen angenommen: Weiterlesen

Re-Gender Video Games

Ein Vater spielt mit seiner Tochter „Zelda – The Wind Waker“ und schreibt die Geschichte um. Damit sie sich besser in die Heldenrolle versetzen kann verändert er das Spiel und macht aus dem männlichen Helden Link eine Heldin.

Das Thema Gender und Games hat mich während meinem Soziologie Studium viel beschäftigt und einem Essay und diversen Blog Artikeln geführt.

Meine Diplomarbeit ging unter Anderem ebenfalls über das Thema. Insbesondere um das unterschiedliche Selbstbild von Vielspielern und inwieweit sie sich dann als Gamer bezeichnen oder nicht und ob sich das auf die Spiele auswirkt, die sie spielen wollen. Viele weibliche Computerspielerinnen haben ein Problem sich als Gamer zu bezeichnen oder Computerspielen als Hobby zu sehen, unter Anderem aufgrund der männlichen Konnotation des Begriffs. Dabei gibt es schon seit zehn Jahren einen ganzen Industriezweig der sich primär auf weibliche Spielerinnen, insbesondere ab 40 konzentriert.

Bei Interesse kann die Diplomarbeit bei mir angefordert werden.

“SPIELfilmen” und das Netz gestalten – Machinima Workshop

Gemeinsam mit meiner Creative-Gaming-Kollegin Jana Dugnus habe ich im Sommer 2011 Machinima Workshops in München durchgeführt, bei denen zum ersten mal Bildmaterial aus der Realität in Bildschirme innerhalb Sims 2 übernommen wurden.

Hier die online verfügbaren Filme aus den Workshops:

Die gesamte Playlist mit allen neun Filmen findet sich hier:
www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDEE2BEE94062DF92

Mediengelder – SPIELfilmen Workshop Abschlusspräsentation

Im folgenden die ausführliche Beschreibung des Projektes „SPIELfilmen“:

Weiterlesen

D2Zoing

Zoing LogoD2Zoing war eines der ersten deutschen Massively Multiplayer Online Games und mein erstes Spiel. Es erfreute sich 2000-2002 recht großer Beliebtheit, wurde aber im Zuge des DotCom Crashes eingestellt. Es konnte mobil (SMS) und am PC (Flash-Multiplayer-Adventure) gespielt werden.

Ich habe eine Seite eingerichtet, auf der nach und nach noch erhaltene Zeugnisse von Zoing gesammelt werden sollen:

www.ulrichtausend.com/d2zoing

D2Zoing Hochzeit

Hier ein Screenshot von der ersten "User-Hochzeit" in Zoing. Für die Hochzeiten erstellten wir einen einen Ring, den nur die Spiele-Entwickler vergeben konnten. Man konnte also "offiziell" heiraten.

Diploma thesis completed

I completed my diploma thesis and are waiting for my result. Right now I am preparing for my final exams. I will have completed my studies in March 2009. I will prepare a summary of my findings then.

In short: There were huge differences in demography and play style between the Hardcore Game Player and Casual Game Player audiences. There is not just ONE computer games culture. Gamers associate different functions and meanings with gaming. Generally restrictions (like income, time, experience with input devices and games) are less relevant when choosing which games to play than preferences (like attitude towards violence in games).

Edit: I was awarded the mark „very good“ on the thesis.

Most Finns play, but not computer.

When I was in Tampere this spring Frans Mäyrä presented a first glimpse of a massive quantitative study about gaming habits in Finland. The really great thing about their study is that it covers a pretty representative share of the Finnisch population and asks them about media usage and gaming habits. Therefore we don’t just have answers from gamers but also from non gamers. The final report was published now and I find it really interesting.

During the last month 66 % of the respondents reported playing traditional games, 59 % money games, 31 % digital games and 4 % engrossment games (LARP).

This means that when we want to study games, we should not only focus on computer games as these are not the dominant gaming form. Traditional games and money games are much more common. This fact is especially important for casual (computer) game studies as much more potential or actual casual gamers have experience with traditional or money games than with hardcore (computer) games. This can also partly explain why Solitaire is the most popular digital game (the other reason is the availability of this game on any Windows PC).

Back then in Tampere I was discussing with Frans Mäyrä the usage of their data for my own thesis. But I finally decided that I wanted a specifically designed casual-hardcore-games survey. Probably I will present my findings there in 2008.

Casual Games and Gender

The Casual Games Association has released their Casual Games Market Report 2007 . Would be interesting to get my hands on it as an article on it says that men play casual games as often as women which is different to the common believe that most casual gamers are women. Seems the men don’t like to admit they play these „little“ games.
I wonder how they got their data. Most classical casual games websites told me the huge majority of their visitors would be women. So where do the men sneak in?
One possible solution could be that men are more likely to play on www.newgrounds.com etc.. Most Games there can also be called „casual“ if you mean easy to pick up. But on the other hand many of the games on newgrounds have some gore which is something which does not fit other definitions of casual games. For example you won’t find any gore on pogo.com etc. Could turn of the women…

User generated content and casual games

I was mentioned in an article on by technology review:
http://www.technologyreview.com/Infotech/19137/?a=f

This was the question the author Erica Naone asked me:

„Do you think casual gamers will respond to these efforts to encourage them to form casual gaming communities? Considering the suggestion that they may be attracted to casual games because of less familiarity with computers, do you think they are likely to respond to offers to participate by creating user-generated content?“

This was my answer:

Generally your question is a tricky one. Especially because the term casual is used in so many different ways. I will first focus on „casual gamers“ as .

It takes time and effort and some kind of skill with computers to take part in an online community or generate content. This speaks against „casual“ online communities if you use the term casual as „not very interested“ or „not very involved“ or mean users who are not experienced with computers.

For making it interesting to take part in a community the level of freedom what you can do and how you can participate is an important part. On the other hand one characteristic casual games normally feature is that they are non-offensive. The designers try not to turn someone off with violence or sexist protagonists…
If you are pretty free what to generate in an community you can also generate offensive material. You can swear, or upload a picture which is explicit and so on. Therefore a community which would be targeted at older or more female audience would need tight controls to prevent the creation of unwanted material.
These tight controls would on the one hand be hard to implement and on the other hand limit the freedom of the possible content generators. (There are some community games for very young players under 10) which only let you communicate with other players using predefined text modules. This is one way to prevent paedophiles to try to contact the minors. But I don’t think it is not much fun to use these text modules).

On the other hand to at least being theoretically able to create user content as well as „feeling“ to be part of a lively social community is a strong incentive for many users. Especially users who have a negative feeling towards computers or technical devices.
One main goal of the casual game developers is to tell the non-typical potential computer players (especially women or seniors) that gaming is also something for them. That message is hard to spread if the women and Seniors who are already playing are mostly playing alone and at home. Community players are more visible. This makes a community especially interesting for casual game designers.
As only few of the potential casual gamers are actually playing till now and therefore there is a huge untapped potential, I am sure many companies will try to create casual community games in the near future.

Then there is the different way to use the term „casual“ as meaning „simple game“. I think www.newgrounds.com is the biggest casual game community and features lots of user generated content. But www.newgrounds.com does not fit the to the pogo.com, zylom.com or bigfishgames.com audience at all. The games are simple and quick to play but many of them can be considered offensive. You can take part by uploading your own flash games or films or your music. Or you can comment on the stuff uploaded by others.
While the flash games are pretty simple to make there is a great incentive for many non professional designers to create something and show it to the public.
The community is very free and you are very power full as a creator as well as a user. Therefore newgrounds is one of the best places to find creative people playing around and from time to time having great and innovative ideas.

The community itself is associated with www.newgrounds.com and not with specific games. So it is not a casual game community but more a casual gameS community.

To sum it up:

  • Everything depends how you use the term casual.
  • A casual (as seniors and women) game community must be very simple to use and non offensive.
  • A casual (meaning simple game) game community can also work if it is much more open and therefore give the users a real chance to create interesting content for the other users.
  • Out of thousands of players of a particular casual game (also as seniors and women) you will always find some who will want to invest a lot and be able to do so in a pretty professional way (ask Ion Hardie from Reflexive for their response to Big Kahuna Reef).

Survey on Casual Games and Gender

While we know that the demographics between hardcore and casual gamers differ (hc: mostly male/younger, cg: mostly female/older) it is not as clear why this is the case.

Therefore I plan to do a online survey on one typical casual games site and one typical hardcore games site.
To get clear results I try to find two websites which are as similar as possible except for their casual and hardcore audience and ask them about user motives, time investment, experience with computers…

I think for the casual side it makes sense to focus on the „try before you buy casual games“ on the pc (and leave the consoles and Massive Online Games out of the way).
This leads me, on the hardcore side, to PC Hardcore gamers, for example Ego Shooters, Real Time Strategy or non massive RPGs.

On the other hand distribution models and often the level of violence differ between these two markets.
Both are aspects which could have a big influence on the possible customers (e.G. many women being turned off by violence). But both are not central differences between casual and hardcore at least if you go with this casualgames whitepaper definition:

Casual / Hardcore games involve less/more „complicated game controls and overall complexity in terms of game play or investment required to get through the game“ (or enjoy the game session as I would formulate it).

I am thinking about good example sites to highlight aspects of the casual – hardcore games difference?

How about „try before you buy HARDCORE games“ which would lead us to indie games – right?

Gamers in Society Seminar

„University of Tampere Hypermedia Laboratory’s Game Research Lab organizes a seminar on Gamers in Society. The two-day event consists of themed sessions that discuss the social and cultural aspects of gaming.“ I will be happy to attend. You find the program here:

http://gamelab.uta.fi/socialgamer-seminar/programme.htm

Especially the „Casual Games Discussion“ with Jussi Kuittinen, Annakaisa Kultima, Frans Mäyrä, Johannes Niemelä and Janne Paavilainen
and
‘You Play Like a Girl!’ Cross Gender Competition and the Uneven Playing Field“ by Elena Bertozzi could be interesting for me.

Immersion and Gender

Frans Mäyrä and Laura Ermi did a small but interesting survey about immersion in computer games You can download the text from Frans blog: http://www.uta.fi/~tlilma/ direct link to text.

‚Summing up mean values of all the three component of gameplay immersion, Half Live 2 appears to be the overall strongest game in immersing its players. On the other end, the experience of playing The Sims 2 is apparently not felt as immersive. But it would be mistake to claim Half Life 2 to be a better game than the Sims 2 on this basis. It may well be that the more “casual” character of the Sims 2 gameplay is one of the reasons behind its appeal for these particular players. The Sims 2 was also the only one of the examined games with a notable amount of female respondents, but the relatively low evaluation of immersion is not relate to the gender of the informants, since females gave overall higher evaluation to the immersion in that game than men.‘

Would be interesting to find out if casual gamers in general are less immersed than hard core gamers. Often the term ‚casual‘ is used to point out that you can stop playing at any time or doing something else while playing. Both speaks against strong immersion through casual games.

A similar concept to immersion is „Flow“ by Csikszentmihalyi:

„The concept (…) describes an optimal mental state where a person is complete occupied with a task that matches the person’s skills, being neither too hard (leading to anxiety) or easy (leading to boredom).“ (Jesper Juul: http://www.half-real.net/dictionary/#flow)

Probably casual gamers are not as experienced with computer games and need easier – meaning casual – games to reach flow states.

And what impact has gender on immersion. Will men and women be immersed in different kind of games in different ways? In the survey women were more immersed by the casual Sims 2 than men. On the other hand they responded lower immersion levels than men for the other games.

Paper about Casual games and Gender

Right now I am working on my master thesis in sociology about the topic „Casual games and gender“. As part of the preparation of the thesis I wrote a shorter (18pages) paper.

Abstract:

This paper discusses the question: “Why do more women play casual games than men, if altogether more men play computer games than women?”

Gender seems to have an impact upon the affinity towards different kinds of games and upon how much effort a person is willing to invest while playing a computer game. This is indicated by the different gender ratios of casual and hardcore gamers. Many potential gamers do not identify themselves with the stereotype of ‘real’ gamers, i.e., hardcore gamers, who are often seen as being young, male and lacking social skills. This could be one of the reasons why women and older people more frequently play the less ‘real’ or ‘typical’ casual games while often not seeing themselves as ‘computer gamers’.

However, there are indications that the primary factor for the preference towards casual or hardcore games is, in fact, not gender. On the contrary, gender (as well as age) could cloud the more important variables, such as experience with computers or time allocation.
For a better picture of the relationship between the different variables we would need more empirical data.

Download:

Casual games and gender (English)

Casual Games und Geschlecht (German)

I would be very happy about comments or suggestions concerning the text or my future research. I plan to do conduct a quantitative survey on casual and hardcore game sites starting March or April 2007.

The German version was marked with an 1.3 which equals an A- in the US.

Studie über Computerspieler in Deutschland

Die Studie findet sich hier: http://www.spielplatz-deutschland.de/
Bejubelt wird sie in einem Spiegel Online Artikel.
Die Studie erhebt einen wissenschaftlichen Anspruch, kann ihn aber nicht aufrecht halten. Über den vielen bunten Bilder und dem Blick in den Kühlschrank der Gamer wurden leider genaue Angaben zur Erhebung vergessen (wie viele Leute wurden denn überhaupt befragt?).

Natürlich ist jede mögliche Einteilung in Spielergruppen recht konstruiert und daher angreifbar. Da ist die genutzte Einteilung in „Freizeit-, Intensiv-, Gewohnheits-, Denk- und Fantasiespieler“ keine Ausnahme. Während sich Freizeit, Gewohnheits- und Intensivspieler entlang einer Dimension bewegen, passen die Genrebezeichnungen Denk- und Fantasiespieler nicht in dieses Konzept.

Vielleicht kann man aber an die Rohdaten der Untersuchung kommen. Vielleicht könnte ich diese für meine Eigene Forschung im Rahmen meiner Diplomarbeit (Casual Games and Gender) nutzen.