Imageability and Intelligibility in 3D Game Environments Examining Experiential and Cultural Influence on the Design Process

Summers, Alan (2014) Imageability and Intelligibility in 3D Game Environments Examining Experiential and Cultural Influence on the Design Process. Doctoral thesis, University of Central lLancashire.

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The games industry has developed online multiplayer three-dimensional game worlds that allow players from different geographical locations to engage in competitive and cooperative gameplay together. This has enabled players from different cultures to inhabit the same virtual game world, bypassing any geographical or cultural boundaries found in the real world. These 3D game worlds ask the player to use the basic principles of spatial awareness and movement from the real world, and are often virtual representations of real world environments. These spaces are designed for players from all nationalities to inhabit concurrently. There is now a need to determine design considerations for these multicultural multiplayer game worlds but any investigation must consider the historical evidence from the games industry of cultural differences in gameplay preferences.
This thesis discusses the effect of cultural knowledge on the spatial design and interpretation of three-dimensional game environments that are based on real world affordances. A new methodology for the comparative analysis of the design of three-dimensional game environments is established using Space Syntax metrics. This facilitates the discussion of cultural models applied to design thinking for the implementation and interpretation of game environments. Through spatial metrics the analysis of the intelligibility underlying three-dimensional game environments is correlated to the imageability of the projected two-dimensional screen image.
The application of this methodology to internationally popular, and culturally specific, game environments establishes new knowledge on tacit cultural influences within game design processes. The analysed intelligibility of the environments indicates cognitive differences between Eastern and Western cultures, already recognised in the interpretation of two-dimensional imagery, also exist within the design and interpretation of three-dimensional game spaces.
This study establishes a new methodology through the analysis of intelligibility for design research into game environments. The resulting evaluation of tacit cultural influences within the design of the environments establishes new cultural differences and commonalities. These design characteristics can inform future game design methodologies within industry for the design and implementation of multicultural game environments.

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