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Title: Playing with value : player engagements with videogames as a negotiation of net cultural worth
Author: Salisbury, John Hamon
Awarding Body: Middlesex University
Current Institution: Middlesex University
Date of Award: 2013
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available