Research

Recasting Player Two

2016-2017: Mikael Jakobsson, Claudia Lo, Kaelan Doyle Myerscough, Richard Eberhardt & Dozens of Game Designers From Near and Far

The game development industry is currently on a mission to include “non-gamers” in local co-op games. Within the development community and among players, these games are said to have a “girlfriend mode.” Developers often cast player one as an expert player in their own image, while player two is a projection of antiquated gender stereotypes who has less agency and control over their play experience. This type of interaction would be better described as mansplaining in motion. This project consists of a series of workshops with participants from the game development community, where we not just discuss and spread awareness of what is problematic with current games and development practices, but work together in creating better alternatives.

OpenRelativity

OpenRelativity

2012-2016: Gerd Kortemeyer, Philip Tan, Zach Sherin, Ryan Cheu, & Steven Schirra

OpenRelativity is an open-source toolkit to simulate effects of special relativity by varying the speed of light, developed to help people create, test, and share experiments to explore the effects of special relativity.

Gender and Systems of Warm Interaction in Digital Games

2014-2016: Kyrie Caldwell (S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2016)

This thesis considers the ways in which digital game mechanics (interactive inputs) contribute to games’ worldbuilding. In particular, this work is concerned with the replication and reinforcement of problematic gender roles through game mechanics that express positive (“warm”) interactions between characters, namely healing, protection, and building relationships. Characters who are women and girls are often associated with physical weakness, nature-based magic, and nurturing (or absent) personalities, whereas characters who are men and boys often protect women through physical combat, heal through medical means, and keep an emotional distance from others. Relationships built through game mechanics rely on one-sided agency and potential that renders lovers and friends as characters who exist to support the player character in achieving the primary goals of the game. Even warm interactions in games carry negative, even potentially violent and oppressive, representations and that there is thusly a need for design interventions on the mechanical level to mitigate violence in game worlds and the reinforcement of negative real world stereotypes.

E-sports Broadcasting

2014-2015: Jesse Sell (S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2015)

Situating e-sports broadcasting within the larger sports media industrial complex, discussing e-sportscasters, and investigating the economics behind the growing e-sports industry.

overseer

MIT Overseer: Improving Observer Experience in Starcraft 2

2013-2015: Philip Tan & Nick Mohr

The MIT Overseer project aims to provide casters with real-time graphics to help them tell the story of a game while it is in progress. We are trying out several different ways of displaying what happened in the past of a single game and anticipating what might happen in the near future.

Subversive Game Design and Meaningful Conflict

2012-2013: Konstantin Mitgutsch & Steven Schirra

Movers & Shakers is used as a research tool to explore how a social component influences experiences in serious games. In addition subversive game design elements are implemented in the game to foster the players’ thinking process and to get them out of unquestioned routines. In the game the players are challenged to give up their prior egoistic goals to reach their common goal – to save the world. In a nutshell, the game shifts from a competitive to a collaborational gameplay – once the players start communicating.

Playstyle Motivation Explorations

2012-2013: Todd Harper

Across game genres and communities, there are as many styles of play as there are players, from the highly competitive "powergamer" to the MMO fan who's content to just take in the scenery and everything in between. Fugue is a game that asks: what are some of the motivations behind these styles? Do players reflect themselves -- or a desired projection of the self -- through playstyle? Or does the shape and context of the game itself direct such decisions? In order to explore these questions, we created a small, controlled gamespace that gives players an opportunity to express themselves via play.

Procedural Puzzles as a Design Tool for Games

2011-2013: Alec Thomson, Clara Fernández-Vara

Puzzledice is a set of tools and programming libraries for procedurally generating puzzles for a wide variety of games. These tools, developed by Alec Thomson at the MIT Game Lab from 2011-2013, are the result of multiple iterations of research and were used to develop Stranded in Singapore during the 2011 summer session of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab.

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Televisual Sports Videogames

2012-2013: Abe Stein (S.M., Comparative Media Studies, 2013)

Over the three decade long history of sports videogame development, design conventions have lead to the emergence of a new sports game genre: the televisual sports videogames. These games, which usually simulate major professional or college sports, look and sound like television, and they use televised sports as a reference point for players.

Purposeful Games for Social Change

2011-2012: Konstantin Mitgutsch & Narda Alvarado

"Purposeful Games for Social Change" is a list of serious games designed to foster social change/justice or to raise awareness. This list was created in order to create the Purposeful Games Framework, a tool used to assess the cohesiveness in design of serious games.

Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab

2007-2012

The Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab was a six-year research initiative that addressed important challenges faced by the global digital game research community and industry, with a core focus on identifying and solving research problems using a multi-disciplinary approach that can be applied by Singapore's digital game industry. The Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab focused on building collaborations between Singapore institutions of higher learning and several MIT departments to accomplish both research and development.

Research topics explored included artificial intelligence, game design, computer graphics and animation, character design, procedurally generated content, interactive fiction, narrative design, and video game production. Game prototypes were made for these research topics during the GAMBIT summer internship program, many of which won international recognition at festivals like IndieCade and the Independent Games Festivals held at GDC and GDC China, as well as academic conferences such as Meaningful Play and Foundations of Digital Games.