“Conversations with pigeons”: Capturing Players’ Lived Experience of Perspective Challenging Games

Matthew Alexander Whitby, Ioanna Iacovides, Sebastian Deterding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Video games are increasingly designed to provoke reflection and challenge players’ perspectives. Yet we know little about how such perspective-challenging experiences come about in gameplay. In response, we used systematic self-observation diaries and micro-phenomenological interviews to capture players’ (n=15) lived experience of perspective challenges in purposely sampled games including Hatoful Boyfriend, The Stanley Parable, or Papers, Please. We found a sequence of trigger, reflection, and transformation constituting perspective-challenging experiences, matching Mezirow’s model of transformative learning. Most of these were game-related or ‘endo-game’, suggesting that medium self-reflection could be an overlooked part of everyday game reflection and appreciation. Reflections were accompanied by a wide range of emotions, including frequent epistemic emotions, and emotions could change drastically even during short gameplay experiences. Actual perspective change or transformation was rare. We construct a model of granular types of triggers, reflections, and transformations that can aid reflective game design.
Original languageEnglish
Article number405
Pages (from-to)833–855
Number of pages23
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2023
EventCHI PLAY 2023 - Stratford, Canada
Duration: 10 Oct 202313 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the University’s Research Publications and Open Access policy.


  • perspective
  • reflection
  • games
  • perspective challenge
  • lived experience

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