A Study of Playability by Operation Bounds and Game Theory Paper Review

A Study of Playability by Operation Bounds and Game Theory is a 2019 paper produced by Tian-yu, Wei WEI and Zhen-yu SHI. The paper aims to analyse the influential factors of playability concerning video games popularity. Within the papers abstract it describes using upper and lower, operation bounds; which relate to the complexity of popular video games and the players starting positions within them. Furthermore, these operations are broken down into critical areas such as battle mode (PVP), Repetition, freedom and randomness. The aim of the paper is to exam the player's reaction concerning the critical areas, for example, PVP or battle mode analyses the strategies opted for by the player and there available starting positions against the popular game theory. However, within the abstract, it is unclear what popular games theories are and how they relate to the upper and lower operations bounds, it could be popular strategies associated with a particular game made famous by its users and in-game lore. Furthermore, there is no discussion on why they are attempting to define playability through these operations within the abstract.

The introduction helps to clarify a few points and describes the games used within the study and other relevant points, such as how playability is defined. Playability, according to the paper, relates not only to the complex operations a player can perform when playing a game but also the ease in which players can begin to play games that they are otherwise unfamiliar with, this conclusion was reached through examining qualitative data on games such as starcraft, the world of warcraft and pong. The paper is unclear on the measurement tools they used to gather the qualitative data and how they were able to identify patterns and themes within it that allowed them to reach such conclusions. However, there are methods mention within there observations of players and the decisions a player makes during play, such as the binary tree model by Ross et al.

The paper has four focussed sections on battle mode (PVP), Repetition, freedom and randomness. Each area has a different testing strategy used to determine the significance of it and the overall role it plays within playability. However, it is unclear which games are being used to test the critical areas; for example, the battle mode section focuses on player strategy and choice at the start of a game but does not describe the video games the tests are applied too, this makes it difficult to understand aspects of the research in relation to the tests and outcomes. It would also be interesting to test if the outcomes changed depending on the type of game played during the test.

The paper concludes that the top market games with high operations or games which allow the player to perform a wide variety of complicated tasks seem to have higher popularity. There are a few different reasons for this, according to the paper. One of which relates to the battle mode and how players like to show off there mastery or understanding of complex tasks to there friends. Probably the most crucial part of the paper relates to how the designer can increase the playability of there own video games. In this, the paper describes that there has to be an increase in randomness, this will help force the player into a deeper level of thinking when choosing the best strategies which provide the highest profits. A designer should also look into increasing the number of repeatable actions within the game; this will force the player to learn there opponents strategy and also provide the opportunity for the development of a counter-strategy. Finally, a designer should look into increasing the freedom within the game to allow the player to determine the most appropriate operations for there play style or strategy.

The paper's points on increasing playability seem plausible, however, in this review, I have paraphrased and interpreted a lot of the text because there are significant gaps or shortages of explanations in regards to the structure and communication of the paper. There are also terms used throughout the paper, such as traditional games theory or lower and higher operations that seem to be left open to interpretation at times, this makes it difficult to understand the meaning of these words, it would have been much better to define them early on, so the reader understands how to interpret them. There are also only a small section of popular games genres used within the study and no reference to any unpopular games or how much data they searched through in order to conclude what the critical areas of playability were. Overall this paper has some good points that should be taken into consideration when researching or developing video games and provides an excellent starting point for further research into video games playability.

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