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Gamer mode: Identifying and managing unwanted behaviour in military educational wargaming
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID. Försvarshögskolan.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1019-8933
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Games are rule-governed systems at the same time as they are fiction, simulating or representing a real or an abstract world. This defining characteristic may create for different forms of tensions, that is, at different times players may focus on the rules, the fiction or on both during game play. In military education with games, this poses a problem when the learner becomes too focused on the rules, trying to win at any price rather than taking the representation and what it implies in terms of permissible behaviour seriously. In here we attempt to understand how participants in a wargaming situation act out this tension by studying the interaction between the player and the game in military tactical training.

The results first of all confirm that there is a tension – there are occasions where players are mainly concerned with winning the wargame, disregarding what the theme is meant to represent. I propose the term gamer mode to refer to this player orientation: players in gamer mode have an extreme rule-focused interaction, meaning they behave rationally with respect to game rules but irrationally with respect to the portrayed real-life situation they are training for. Gamer mode can probably occur for many reasons. This thesis documents two contributing factors. The first concerns whenever the game does not match players’ expectation on mimicking warfare. In these situations players may find that the game breaks the fragile contract of upholding an accurate representation of warfare. The other factor that may lead to gamer mode are game design features such as explicit reward structures or victory conditions.

To remedy the situation, the instructor can, in real-time, actively support players’ orientation towards the game and explain in-game events, keeping them on track. When gamer mode occur I argue that the conditions for learning are compromised as the gaming activity becomes its own learning subject, blurring and overshadowing the learning objective. Although the results suggest that gamer mode is mainly detrimental to learning I conclude that gamer mode is a natural way students will approach games and as such, needs to be dealt with by the instructor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. , viii, 103 p.
Series
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2014:18
Keyword [en]
Gamer mode, military education, wargaming, game-based learning
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156886ISBN: 978-91-7595-399-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-156886DiVA: diva2:768474
Public defence
2015-01-23, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20141209

Available from: 2014-12-09 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Gaming the Game: A Study of the Gamer Mode in Educational Wargaming
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gaming the Game: A Study of the Gamer Mode in Educational Wargaming
2012 (English)In: Journal Simulation & Gaming, ISSN 1046-8781, E-ISSN 1552-826X, Vol. 43, 118-132 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A risk associated with the use of games in training and education is that players "game the game," instead of focusing on their learning goals. The term gamer mode is proposed to describe this attitude. A player with a gamer-mode attitude strives to achieve goals that are optimal for winning the game, but suboptimal with respect to educational objectives. In this study of cadets playing an educational wargame to learn ground warfare tactics, the author examined occurrences of gamer mode. The results show that gamer mode on and off emerged in all analyzed sessions. Cadets understanding of the wargame was different from what the instructors expected. This study discusses why it is important to avoid situations where the gamer mode emerges and also speculates on the sources that generate this attitude-the game itself, the educational setting, and the participants' previous experiences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2012
Keyword
educational games, educational objectives, educational wargame, gamer mode, gamer-mode attitude, gaming the game, ground warfare tactics, learning objectives, military education, understanding of wargame, undesirable effects, wargaming, winning optimization
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156851 (URN)10.1177/1046878111408796 (DOI)2-s2.0-84857849101 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20141204

Available from: 2014-12-03 Created: 2014-12-03 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. Unexpected game calculations in educational wargaming: Design flaw or beneficial to learning?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Unexpected game calculations in educational wargaming: Design flaw or beneficial to learning?
2011 (English)In: Proceedings of DiGRA 2011 Conference: Think Design Play: The fifth international conference of the Digital Research Association (DIGRA), Digital Games Research Association DiGRA , 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper describes situations where learning games are not perceived by the player as being realistic. In educational wargaming this is seen when the game calculates battle-outcomes. Defined as unexpected game calculations, these incidents can cause players to adopt a Gamer Mode attitude, in which players reject the idea that the game accurately portrays warfare. In a study involving cadets playing a commercial strategic wargame as part of their course in war science, unexpected game calculations emerged and resulted in different user responses. Although user responses risked damaging the worth of learning from gaming, this paper argues that these incidents could enhance learning, as the cadets became interested and keen on finding rationales to why and how unexpected calculations occur.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Digital Games Research Association DiGRA, 2011
Keyword
Game-based learning, military education, simulations, user responses, wargaming
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156864 (URN)
Conference
DIGRA 2011
Note

QC 20141208

Available from: 2014-12-03 Created: 2014-12-03 Last updated: 2014-12-09Bibliographically approved
3. Achieving Game Goals at All Costs?: The Effect of Reward Structures on Tactics Employed in Educational Military Wargaming
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Achieving Game Goals at All Costs?: The Effect of Reward Structures on Tactics Employed in Educational Military Wargaming
2014 (English)In: FRONTIERS IN GAMING SIMULATION, Springer Publishing Company, 2014, 13-20 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A key motive in using gaming for educational purposes is to enhance user motivation and involvement to the subject matter. Within military education, games have always been utilized as a means to think clearly about military operations. However, some research results have shown that gaming, regardless of what the game is supposed to portray, is a meaningful activity in itself, and this can distract the learner away from the educational objective. Playing the game, then, becomes similar to competition, such as in sports where the objective is to only win the game. The player directs actions to achieving game goals even though some actions are inappropriate from a learning perspective. To shed light on the discrepancy between playing a game to win and playing a game to learn, we conducted an experiment on cadets playing an educational wargame. By varying the conditions of the game, playing with or without points, while still in line with the learning objective, we were interested to see what impact it had on the tactics employed by cadets. The results showed that adding reward structures, such as points, changed the outcome of the game, that is, groups playing with points played the game more aggressively and utilized the military units more extensively. These findings suggest that changes in the game design, although educationally relevant, may distract learners to be more oriented towards a lusory attitude, in which achieving the game goals becomes players' biggest concern.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Publishing Company, 2014
Series
Lecture Notes in Computer Science, ISSN 0302-9743 ; 8264
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156867 (URN)10.1007/978-3-319-04954-0_2 (DOI)978-3-319-04954-0 (ISBN)978-3-319-04953-3 (ISBN)
Conference
44th Conference of the International-Simulation-and-Gaming-Association (ISAGA)
Note

QC 20141208

Available from: 2014-12-03 Created: 2014-12-03 Last updated: 2014-12-09Bibliographically approved
4. The Instructor Role during Educational Wargaming
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Instructor Role during Educational Wargaming
2014 (English)In: THE SHIFT FROM TEACHING TO LEARNING: Individual, Collective and Organizational Learning through Gaming / [ed] Willy C. Kriz, Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann Verlag, 2014, 66-79 p.Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The instructor has a vital role in leading the debriefing discussion in game-based learning. The role during the gaming part is however not as clear. Some results suggest that the instructor should take an active and authoritative role, but results provide few clues on how to apply this to military wargaming. Wargaming is a two-sided game activity where both sides are assumed to learn from their play experience. Wargaming against a live opponent can however produce unwanted effects. One such effect is ‘gamer mode’ that is a result of an exaggerated willingness to win, which can be observed when the players, for instance, exploit the game rules in unrealistic manner. This paper investigates the main responsibilities or duties of the instructor to prevent gamer mode to occur and instead support the desired player-orientation toward the game. By reasoning on the main characteristic features of wargaming, to play the game and to learn from the experience, I conclude that the main duties of the instructor are to frame the game activity and to steer the learning process. This supports earlier results that the instructor should take an active part in the gaming process, yet needs to have the skills, knowledge, and authority to intervene in students’ game play. The findings are illustrated with excerpts from videotaped wargaming sessions at the Swedish National Defence College.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bielefeld: W. Bertelsmann Verlag, 2014
Keyword
Wargaming, education, instructor, gamer mode
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156869 (URN)978-3-7639-5420-9 (ISBN)
Conference
45th Conference of the International Simulation and Gaming Association
Note

QC 20141208

Available from: 2014-12-03 Created: 2014-12-03 Last updated: 2014-12-09Bibliographically approved

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