Exploring the role of game mechanics in generating spatial compositions: Snaris case

Özvatan, Ozan Can
Süreli Yayın başlığı
Süreli Yayın ISSN
Cilt Başlığı
Graduate School
As the world becomes increasingly digitized, the study of virtual environments and user agency in it has emerged as an important field of research. Video games, in particular, serve as an influential subset of these digital spaces, presenting an array of dynamic, complex, and interactive worlds. These game spaces are experienced by users regularly and also raise interesting questions about human interaction, cognition, and experience within virtual realities. In a game, the player acts as both the subject, engaging with the gaming system, and the object, receiving responses based on their input. Their actions and decisions are interwoven into a complex system of cause and effect, where each decision leads to a change in the state of the virtual environment, thereby influencing their subsequent actions. This cyclical process organizes all decisions made during the gaming session, and the game space emerges as a result. This research is about user interaction with virtual spaces, exploring the impact of game mechanics -specifically risk and reward mechanics- on the player's agency in shaping the virtual environment, thus establishing a discussion on exploration at the intersection of game studies, architecture, and human-computer interaction. More specifically, the goal of this research is to answer the following questions: How does the involvement of risk and reward mechanics impact the spatial outcomes generated by participants using a 3D puzzle game? In which ways do the risk and reward mechanics affect the player's role in shaping virtual spaces? What is the impact of more challenging situations on the spatial composition in a virtual environment? How do software limitations influence the generation of spatial elements? To investigate the impact of risk and reward mechanics on generating spatial outcomes, we designed and developed a two-state digital application called Snaris, a 3d puzzle game, in which we can isolate various mechanics in two distinct modes. We compared the spatial compositions created under these distinct conditions by comparing scenes created in Play Mode which harbors risk and reward mechanics with scenes created in Build Mode, which lacks said mechanics. We proposed a method for qualitatively assessing spatial features of scenes created in Snaris. This method employs 12 criteria for evaluating unique 3D spatial compositions generated by the application. We collected data by conducting playtests with 20 participants with each submitting a scene from both modes of application. We observed that where the risk and reward mechanics exist, participants were usually more preoccupied with being able to shape the spatial outcome deliberately. Thus, creating more random and incoherent structures. On the other hand, the absence of risk and reward mechanics and a clear, unobstructed game environment allowed players to engage in unconventional actions, and create familiar topologies, in a setting that encourages exploration and experimentation throughout the session.
Thesis (M.Sc.) -- İstanbul Technical University, Graduate School, 2023
Anahtar kelimeler
video games, video oyunları, game mechanics, oyun mekanikleri, space perception, mekan algısı