Representing Users in the Design of Digital Games
Kerr, Aphra (2002) Representing Users in the Design of Digital Games. Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings .
While economic and sociological studies have generally recognised the important explicit role that users play in shaping a technological artifact - through feedback channels after launch and market trials and studies before launch - there has been less exploration into the more implicit strategies by which designers attempt to pre-figure users prior to launch. Given that design involves making choices, and framing the choices made by users, this paper suggests that Madeline Akricha's approach (1992, 1995) may provide a constructive tool for exploring more implicit and indirect strategies of representing users in the early stages of the design process. It may also prove useful in exploring how users can be excluded or alienated through design. While acknowledging that users may actively negotiate designers' representations this paper will explore the usefulness of the Akrich approach in relation to understanding the design of digital games. A study in 2001 of production in digital games companies in Ireland found that various macro, meso and micro level factors play a role in limiting the games developed and the user groups developed for. This paper will present findings from ongoing research conducted in 2002 into the reasons which account for how one start-up company decided to design a multiplayer online game for males aged 25-40.
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