Call for Chapters: Game Design Research Collected Edition

Edited by Petri Lankoski and Jussi Holopainen

The aim of this collection is to provide an introductory book to all who wants to study game design—with the focus on games, components, systems, game development, etc.—as part of research or development. Design has been a study topic in various fields where design methods has been in focus of enquiry (e.g., Jones, 1970). In game design, an early look at the design if Crawford’s (1984) book The art of game design.

The three more specific aims are to 1) situate the game design research within and alongside general design research, 2) situate game design research within games research, and 3) provide methodology and methods with concrete case studies as examples to guide anyone interested in game design research.

Design research has moved to cover more general questions of studying design: for example,  how we study design, what methods we can use to study design and what is design along with the more fundamental questions such as what kind of knowledge design research produces. This is apparent in areas outside games. For example, Groat and Wang (2004) cover research methods in architecture to analyze design processes and works.

According to Blessing and Chakrabarti (2009) design research has gone through three overlapping phases: The Experiential phase lasting until end of 1950s where senior designers wrote about their own experiences in designing. The Intellectual phase from 1960s until about 1980s where the emphasis was on providing a robust logical foundation for design and on the methods and principles of design. In the Empirical phase from 1980s forward the aim has been to understand how designers really work by conducting empirical studies both in the laboratory and in the wild.

The history of game design research seems to have followed the same phases from Crawford’s 1984 seminal The Art of game design being an example of the experiential phase to the recent empirical studies of game design (see for example Kultima 2010, Hagen 2009, Peltoniemi 2009; O’Donnell, 2014). In addition, researchers have also started to look using game design as research methodology where game design is used intentionally to study specific aspect of design. This kind of approaches are in akin to what Koskinen et al. (2011) call constructive design research.

Nigel Cross has defined design research as “development, articulation and communication of design knowledge” (Cross 1999, p.5). Cross argues further that the design knowledge resides in people, processes, and artifacts resulting in three different domains of design knowledge: design epistemology (the study of designerly ways of knowing), design praxiology (the study of practices and processes of design) and design phenomenology (the study of the form and function of the resulting artifacts). The studies in game design research can be positioned accordingly.

The book is going to have two thematic parts:

What is game design research

  • epistemology of game design research
  • design knowledge & knowledge in design research
  • aesthetics in design
  • game design vs game design research (the role and contribution of game design research)
  • game design research and games research

Conducting game design research

  • validation of game design research
  • methods in game design research (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, historical, simulations, prototypes)
  • Norm critical design, politics/ethics of design
  • Case studies

Other suitable topics are considered as well.

In the more philosophical or theoretical oriented submissions we would like to see contributions addressing design research in games in contrast to more general theoretical or philosophical arguments about design or design research exemplified with games.

The submission should contain 1000-1500 (without references) words overview of chapter. In addition, include references to 2-4 your research publications that relate to the proposed chapter. We aim for chapters that are 6500–8500 words.

Email proposal to Petri Lankoski ( as plain text (no attachments).


  • chapter overview: Dec 11, 2015
  • full chapter draft: May, 2016

About editors

Petri Lankoski (D.Arts) is an associate professor at Södertörn University where he teaches game development and research. His research focuses on games and emotions, game character design, and game design. Petri also develops games as part of the research. His publications include Character-driven game design  (published by Aalto University) and Game research methods: An overview (book edited with Staffan Björk, published by ETC Press).

Jussi Holopainen (PhD) is a games researcher working for Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory in RMIT University’s Centre for Game Design Research. His current research interests include experimental game design, empirical studies of game design practices, and games for behavioral change. He has authored or co-authored several pieces on game design, most notably Patterns in Game Design, and was a co-organizer of the Game Design Research Symposium at ITU Copenhagen in 2004.


Björk, S. & Holopainen, J. (2004). Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media.

Blessing, L. T. M., & Chakrabarti, A. (2009). DRM, a Design Research Methodology. Springer London. doi:10.1007/978-1-84882-587-1.

Crawford C. (1984). The Art of Computer Game Design. McGraw-Hill.

Cross, N. (1999). Design Research: A Disciplined Conversation. Design Issues, 15(2), 5–10.

Groat, L.N. & Wang, D. (2004). Architectural Research Methods, 2nd ed. Wiley.

Jones, J.C. (1970). Design Methods. John Wiley & Sons.

Hagen, U. (2011). Designing for player experience: How professional game developers communicate design visions. Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, 3(3), 259–275.

Koskinen, I., Zimmerman, J., Binder, T., Redstrom, J., & Wensveen, S. (2011). Design Research Through Practice: From the Lab, Field, and Showroom. Elsevier.

Kultima, A. (2010). The organic nature of game ideation. In Proceedings of the International Academic Conference on the Future of Game Design and Technology – Futureplay ’10 (p. 33). New York, New York, USA: ACM Press. doi:10.1145/1920778.1920784.

Lankoski, P. (2011). Character-driven game design: A design approach and its foundations in character engagement. Taik Books.

Lankoski, P. & Björk, S. (2015) Game Research Methods: An Overview. ETC Press.

O’Donnell, C. (2014). Developer’s Dilemma: The Secret World of Video Game Creators. MIT Press.

Peltoniemi, M. (2009). Industry Life-Cycle Theory in the Cultural Domain: Dynamics of the Games Industry. Tampere University of Technology.

Introduction from “Game Research Methods: An Overview”

Introduction from Lankoski & Björk, 2015. Game Research Methods: An Overview. ETC Press.
The book is available as free PDF

Printed copies can be bought at least from:

Petri Lankoski & Staffan Björk

This volume is about methods in game research. In game research, wide variety of methods and research approaches are used. In many cases, researchers apply the method set from another discipline to study games or play because game research as discipline is not yet established as its own discipline and the researchers have been schooled in that other discipline. Although this may, in many cases, produce valuable research, we believe that game research qualifies as a research field in its own right. As such, it would benefit game researchers to have collections of relevant research methods described and developed specifically for this type of research. Two direct benefits of this would be to illustrate the variety of methods that are possible to apply in game research and to mitigate some of the problems; each new researchers has to reinvent how methods from other fields can or need to be adjusted to work for game research.

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Game Research Methods: An Overview edited by Lankoski & Björk

Our edited collection just came out from ETC Press.

Print and free pdf available:

An overview presentation at slideshare:

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Experience Assessment and Design in the Analysis of Gameplay by Cowley et al

Experience Assessment and Design in the Analysis of Gameplay is available in Simulation and Gaming (online first version).


We report research on player modeling using psychophysiology and machine learning, conducted through interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers of computer science, psychology, and game design at Aalto University, Helsinki. First, we propose the Play Patterns And eXperience (PPAX) framework to connect three levels of game experience that previously had remained largely unconnected: game design patterns, the interplay of game context with player personality or tendencies, and state-of-the-art measures of experience (both subjective and non-subjective). Second, we describe our methodology for using machine learning to categorize game events to reveal corresponding patterns, culminating in an example experiment. We discuss the relation between automatically detected event clusters and game design patterns, and provide indications on how to incorporate personality profiles of players in the analysis. This novel interdisciplinary collaboration combines basic psychophysiology research with game design patterns and machine learning, and generates new knowledge about the interplay between game experience and design.

Keywords: game design, gameplay patterns, psychophysiology, personality profiles, PPAX framework.

The word cloud of the article's frequently used words.
The word cloud of the article’s frequently used words.


Full reference:

  • Cowley, Kosunen, Lankoski, Kivikangas, Järvelä, Ekman, Kemppainen, Ravaja, forthcoming. Experience Assessment and Design in the Analysis of Gameplay. Simulation and Gaming. DOI=10.1177/1046878113513936

Data and R code of two papers

Below is link to the data file and R code used to in the final models in “Models for Story Consistency and Interestingness in Single-Player RPGs” (in Mindtrek 2013) and “Modeling Player-character engagement in Single-player character-driven games” (in ACE 2013 Netherlands).  The models q4 and q7 are used in the first paper and and the model q8 is used in the second paper.

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Modeling Player-character Engagement in Single-player Character-driven Games

Petri Lankoski

In ACE 2013 Netherlands, pp. 572-575.  Copyright Springer 2013. This is author’s version. The definitive version DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-03161-3_56.


This pilot study looks at how the formal features of character-driven games can be used to explain player-character engagement. Questionnaire data (N=206), formal game features (in 11 games), and ordinal regression were used in the analysis. The results show that interactive dialogue and cut-scenes showing the romances between the player-character and another character relates to higher character engagement scores, while romance modeling and friendship modeling relate to lower character engagement scores.

Keywords: ordinal regression, player-character, engagement, identification

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Models for Story Consistency and Interestingness in Single-Player RPGs

Petri Lankoski

Published in Academic MindTrek 2013

(c) Petri Lankoski 2013. This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here for your own personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Academic MindTrek 2013. [LINK TO BE ADDED]


What are the elements that aect story interestingness or consistency in single-player videogames? The question is approached by comparing player evaluations (N=206) of 11 videogames against a set of features derived by formal (qualitative) analysis. Ordinal regression was used to analyze the collected data. The study posits that dialogue system, romance, moral choice, appearance customization, and support for dierent play styles relate to story evaluation. Females tend to judge game stories more favorably and those with doctoral degree less favorably than players with other education.

Categories and Subject Descriptors K.8.4 [Personal Computing]: General|Games

General Terms: Experimentation

Keywords: ordinal regression, games, storytelling, story consistency, story interestingness

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My MindTrek2013 presentation on game story

My MindTrek 2013 presentation:

The presentation relates to my paper

CFP: Game Research Methods


During the last few years, several textbooks for game students have become available. While these cover many areas well, the objective of this book is to provide a collection of research methods for undergraduate and graduate level students. The aim of the book is to provide a comprehensive overview of that ways games and phenomena surrounding them can be researched. The book is planned to consist of several individual chapters which are organized into sections showing three main approaches for game research:

  • studying games as artifacts
  • studying playing and gaming as activities
  • studying players and gamers

Each section is planned to include chapters that focus on basic research methods as well as methods for on design-oriented research.

Examples of topic for the sections include (but are not limited to):

  • methods for formal gameplay analysis
  • visual analysis of games
  • video analysis of gaming
  • methods of interviewing gamers
  • using statistical analysis
  • experimental or critical game design research
  • action research through game design
  • close readings of games
  • data mining of gameplay statistics
  • participatory observations of games

As a textbook, the chapters are intended to provide rationales for using methods, descriptions of best practices, as well as critically discussing the pros and cons of the method in focus.

1000-1500 word (+ references) abstract giving clear outline of chapter as well as the short author bio. Email your submission to as a plain text (no attachments).

Deadline for the abstract submission: October 20, 2013.

Petri Lankoski & Staffan Björk