Expertise-centric citizen science games (ECCSGs) can be powerful tools for crowdsourcing scientific knowledge production. However, to be effective these games must train their players on how to become experts, which is difficult in practice. In this study, we investigated the path to expertise and the barriers involved by interviewing players of three ECCSGs: Foldit, Eterna, and Eyewire. We then applied reflexive thematic analysis to generate themes of their experiences and produce a model of expertise and its barriers. We found expertise is constructed through a cycle of exploratory and social learning but prevented by instructional design issues. Moreover, exploration is slowed by a lack of polish to the game artifact, and social learning is disrupted by a lack of clear communication. Based on our analysis we make several recommendations for CSG developers, including: collaborating with professionals of required skill sets; providing social features and feedback systems; and improving scientific communication.
Microtransactions have become a major monetisation model in digital games, shaping their design, impacting their player experience, and raising ethical concerns. Research in this area has chiefly focused on loot boxes. This begs the question whether other microtransactions might actually be more relevant and problematic for players. We therefore conducted a content analysis of negative player reviews (n=801) of top-grossing mobile and desktop games to determine which problematic microtransactions are most prevalent and salient for players. We found that problematic microtransactions with mobile games featuring more frequent and different techniques compared to desktop games. Across both, players minded issues related to fairness, transparency, and degraded user experience, supporting prior theoretical work, and importantly take issue with monetisation-driven design as such. We identify future research needs on why microtransactions in particular spark this critique, and which player communities it may be more or less representative of.
Games are considered promising for engaging people with climate change. In virtual worlds, players can adopt empowering roles to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapt to climate impacts. However, the lack of a comprehensive exploration of existing climate-related identities and actions prevents understanding their potential. Here, we analyze 80 video games and classify avatar identities, or expected player roles, into six types. Climate selves encourage direct life changes; climate citizens are easy to identify with and imitate; climate heroes are inspirational figures upholding environmental values; empowered individuals deliberate to avoid a tragedy of the commons; authorities should consider stakeholders and the environment; and faction leaders engage in bi- or multilateral relations. Adaptation is often for decision-making profiles, while empowered individuals, authorities, and faction leaders usually face conflicting objectives. We discuss our results in relation to avatar research and provide suggestions for researchers, designers, and educators.
Now more than ever, people are using online platforms to communicate. Twitch, the foremost platform for live game streaming, offers many communication modalities. However, the platform lacks representation of social cues and signals of the audience experience, which are innately present in live events. To address this, we present a technology probe that captures the audience energy and response in a game streaming context. We designed a game and integrated a custom-communication modality—Commons Sense—in which the audience members' heart rates are sensed via webcam, averaged, and fed into a video game to affect sound, lighting, and difficulty. We conducted an `in-the-wild' evaluation with four Twitch streamers and their audience members (N=55) to understand how these groups interacted through Commons Sense. Audience members and streamers indicated high levels of enjoyment and engagement with Commons Sense, suggesting the potential of physiological interaction as a beneficial communication tool in live streaming.