Amanda Visconti


THATCamp Games Co-organizer, MITH Webmaster, UMD English Ph.D. Student, UMD iSchool ARG Research Team Member

  • Session Proposal: Game Data Vis!


    Good visualizations are things of beauty.


    I’d like to talk about creating visual demonstrations of game data (whether for games you’ve made yourself, or when studying others’ games). How can we concisely and accurately demonstrate key measures of our games, whether for research purposes, soliciting more funding, or to encapsulate the game experience for non-players? What work are people doing with visualizations of game data?

    This question stems from my experience running an on-going small-scale ARG/RPG, Her Majesty’s Royal Mail, with attendee Michael Von Korff. A key mechanic of the game is its player-to-player epistolary delivery, which necessarily creates a fog of war correspondence that we’ve dealt with through letter editing, an all-player broadsheet, and the ever-popular intercepted letter. I’d be interested in figuring out tools to generate visualizations of the correspondence relationships occurring in this game, something I imagine can be modeled by existing social network analysis tools? Thus far, I’ve just been modeling these relationships in a drawing program, but I’m certain there’s a better way:

    Click for larger (but still redacted) image.


    Some questions this session might explore:

    1. What tools are people using to work with data from existing and self-created games? (I hear attendee Marc Ruppel might have something to say about social networks in ARGs…)
    2. More specifically–what are the best tools to use for data from different genres and sizes of games? What about in-game (e.g. character behavior) data and meta-game (e.g. player post-game survey) data? Are there tools beyond social network analysis mechanisms we can apply to our game data?
    3. What are some good examples of work with game data visualizations? What kind of visualizations haven’t been done yet?
    4. How can we apply existing DH tools to answering questions about our game data?
    5. What kind fo questions do we want to ask (and answer) with game data vis, anyway?
    6. And in terms of getting the data in the first place–is there a way to get more game datasets out there for use in the game studies community while still protecting our players?
  • Session Proposal: Maryland Is For Gamers


    I’m going to plead my focus on Other Conference Things (i.e. making sure we have coffee the morning of the conference, designing Sweet Conference Swag like the sticker above) as an excuse for not writing a full session proposal on a single topic, but I wanted to at least throw a few short ideas out there and see if anyone is interested in talking about them, in-session or out. For those of you who haven’t written a proposal yet–please do post something! Even if it’s just a few sentences or some bullet points. At the very least, this will let others with similar interests know to seek you out at the conference. Don’t forget that sessions can take many formats: discussions, collaborative writing, reading groups, game design or testing, play-alouds, game critiques, syllabus design… and you can propose as many session ideas as strike your fancy.

    Wrangling Unwieldy Mythologies: Anyone who’s spent time designing a game knows that the brainstorming process–especially with extensively narrative games–is exhilarating but messy. How do we preserve and display the process of our game designing for future researchers, designers, and players? Are there practices we can use during the design phase that would save time later on without impeding creativity as we work? What types of software do people use to organize and track changes in their design notes?

    Big Humanities Game Pedagogy Resource: A roundtable discussion of our experiences teaching games to undergraduates, culminating in a GoogleDoc of resources (e.g. links to games studies syllabi, games assignments, games that worked well in the classroom) for humanities teachers (unless there’s a good instance of this someone can link me to already?). This could even be a GoogleDoc I set up next Saturday morning that we could all add to during the day, though I’d love to hear from you all in-person about what’s worked when teaching games.

    A gamification manifesto/reading list: I’d probably be okay with never hearing the word “gamification” again, but sometimes one needs to re-argue the difference between meaningful game features and trendy but empty game elements (e.g. when designing a course or seeking funding for a study). This session would draw up a GoogleDoc with links to this year’s most interesting writing on the gamification debate as well as draft a sort of manifesto for the place of games in the humanities curriculum–something we could share with interested non-game-studiers (maybe this could even buddy up with Kevin’s great “Badges Done Right” proposal?).

    The Literary ARG: I’m fascinated by the similarities between ARGs and classes that focus on wrestling big, complex works of literature (Ulysses, I’m looking at you: you’ve got the puzzles, answerable and not; the collaborative classroom reading; the frustration and the triumph; and the opportunity for a reader/player-created wiki/online community.) Perhaps teaming up with the quest-class proposal, I’d be interested in discussing how such a game-class structure might work for a literary course (maybe it’s just me, but I’ve had an easier time wrapping my head around quest-courses about history or STEM or game design than I do about literary quest courses.)