Disparate skill levels or expertise may result in unbalanced multiplayer experiences, where players feel frustrated, unchallenged, or left out. Some games employ player balancing mechanisms, such as matchmaking to group players according to their rank or, in racing games, players who lag behind receiving powerful boosts to catch up. We add to the understanding of player balancing in multiplayer gaming. First with a theoretical model that captures seven high-level design categories. Second, with a study where participant pairs experienced and gave their perspectives on seven different balancing mechanics in a racing game. Our results outline the importance of preserving a sense of merit and agency, while avoiding an obtrusive effect on the gameplay.
David Gonçalves, Daniel Barros, Pedro Pais, João Guerreiro, Tiago Guerreiro, André Rodrigues
CHI 2024 ‑ ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, May, 2024
For families, where abilities, motivations, and availability vary widely, opportunities for intergenerational play are limited. Designing games that cater to these differences remains an open challenge. In this paper, we first identify barriers related with time and expertise. Next, we propose asymmetric game design and asynchronous play to reconcile children's and adults' requirements; and interdependent gameplay mechanics to foster real-world interactions. Following this approach, we designed a testbed game and conducted a mixed-methods remote study with six pairs of adult-child family members. Our results showcase how asymmetric, asynchronous experiences can be leveraged to create novel gaming experiences that meet the requirements of family play. We discuss how interdependent progress can be designed to promote real-world interactions, creating pervasive conversational topics that permeate the family routine.
Pedro Pais, David Gonçalves, Kathrin Gerling, Teresa Romão, Tiago Guerreiro, André Rodrigues
CSCW 2024 ‑ ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, October, 2024
In this work, we analyze over 70 hours of YouTube videos, where blind content-creators play visual-centric games. We point out the various strategies employed by players to overcome barriers that permeate mainstream games. We reflect on ways to enable and improve blind players’ experience with these games, shedding light on the positive and negative consequences of apparently benign design choices. Our observations underline how game elements are appropriated for accessibility, the incidental consequences of audio design, and the trade-offs between accessibility, agency, and engagement.
David Gonçalves, Manuel Piçarra, Pedro Pais, João Guerreiro, André Rodrigues
CHI 2023 ‑ ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, April, 2023
Best Paper Award