Opening the World of Contextualised Player Experiences

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Games provide a variety of experiences for players. Currently, research
focuses either on games as undifferentiated wholes, where games provide summative experiences, or on a feature-level basis, where it is difficult to generalise findings. However, specific gaming experiences cannot be explained
from these approaches. Open world games for example (a popular game type
known for giving players high levels of choice over what they engage with)
allow players to have uniquely different experiences. Current approaches cannot
capture what about this gaming experience players enjoy or why. To do
so, a `context specific' approach is needed, which this paper demonstrates.
In this study, eleven players of open world games were interviewed about
their experiences. A thematic analysis revealed 5 concepts that interlock together
to enable the nal theme; (1) players are situated to scale within the
world, (2) the world is large, connected and accessible, (3) the main goal does
not restrict players from engaging with other activities, (4) content density
is more important than world size, and (5) players can self-pace gameplay
through engaging/disengaging with tasks at will. This study highlights how
the use of a `contextually-specific' approach can provide insight into specific
player experiences, and why players enjoy them.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100401
JournalEntertainment Computing
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Open World Games
  • Thematic Analysis
  • Player Experience

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