PGDI: Descriptions of the Social Components

In a previous post, I described the general categories of the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI). In this post, I will be explaining the components in the social category: Community, Competition, Cooperation, and Multiplayer.


The Social Category

The components in the social category all have something to do with interacting with other people through games.

The community component is about people talking to each other about a game. It deals with interactions between players that are more communicative, rather than ones that are seated in gameplay. It can be easy to say that the community component surrounds players talking about the game, but these interactions need not be limited to talking. Instead, as redundant as it sounds, it has to do with the community surrounding the game. The component was named as clearly as possible. James Paul Gee would call this an affinity space, or discourse, depending on when you read him. Others have called this kind of thing a community of practice. Most often, this looks like a website that contains information about the game around which players gather to share information, experiences, and to create media around the game. This can also happen in-game, for games that connect the players together and provide a way to converse (usually via chat channels). Games are strong in this component if they have built-in tools that allow players to interact beyond the scope of gameplay. Additionally, games that require community interaction or that have developed strong communities are strong in this component. A player is strong in community the more they desire that interaction with players above the game. Sharing information, media and speculation about the game are hallmarks of players strong in the community component.

Competition, being a social component, generally deals with interactions between players where they hinder each other. If the players of the game are actively trying to “beat” or do “better” than the others players, then this component is involved. Actions that directly contribute to these kinds of interactions contribute to a game’s strength in this component. Additionally, game rules and feedback can be looked at when looking for competition component elements. Some rules, such as players being unable to occupy the same space, can be competitive. Feedback, like finish times in races, can also be competitive. Games are strong in competition if they provide actions or other elements that allow the players to hinder each other, or goals which suggest that not all players will win the game. Players will be strong in competition if they enjoy hindering other players, acting in direct opposition to other players, or “beating” other players.

For the cooperation component, it it is important for players to be able to help each other. Usually the goals of the game suggest this. If the goals are achievable only if players work together, then the cooperation component is in effect. The more the players have to work in tandem with each other, the stronger the cooperation component is. The cooperation component also looks at actions that work well when performed with other actions by other players. The more actions that can be combined by players, the stronger the cooperation component. A game will have a strong cooperation component if it allows and encourages players to work together towards a goal. Players will be stronger in cooperation if they enjoy helping other players achieve goals. The more players want to share their victory, the more of a cooperation component they have.

The multiplayer component is the core component of the social category. It covers whether or not players can play a game together. If a game is only playable by one person, then that game will have no multiplayer component. The more players that can play a game at the same time, the stronger the multiplayer component can be. A game that has thousands of players simultaneously connected through a single online server might have a stronger multiplayer component than a game that lets a group of up to six players connect over the internet to play the game. The main idea here is how much the players interact. The multiplayer component counts interactions between players, but doesn’t care what those interactions are. If a thousand players are all connected to a game, but any given player will only occasionally see another player, then the game is mostly single-player and will have a lower multiplayer component. Players who like playing with other people in their games will have a stronger multiplayer component, while those who prefer to play single-player games will have a weak multiplayer component. A game that has no multiplayer component can’t have a cooperation or competition components, as those components require that players can interact with each other in some way. A game can have no multiplayer component but a strong community component, as the two components describe different kinds of interactions.


2 thoughts on “PGDI: Descriptions of the Social Components

  1. Your definition of Multiplayer is almost correct, but it should be entirely correct because this is one area in which there is an “objective” measurement that doesn’t necessarily accord with your definitions. Is the Multiplayerness of an MMO defined simply by how many people there are on a server, or how “present” each player is to another? In an FPS, would a 16 person Free For All be more or less Multiplayer than a 6 vs 6 Team Deathmatch? How about a game that more or less requires 4 players, like Left 4 Dead, or Mass Effect 3 online, and can’t be played with more or less?

    Just food for thought…

    • incobalt says:

      I think the important part of this is how players interact. A stronger multiplayer component will have more players interacting with each other in some way. It actually doesn’t matter how the players interact, as those will be described with the cooperation and competition components (and community to an extent). The answer is that a game that requires more interaction will have a stronger component. A game that has less interaction but connects a lot of people (Dark Souls comes to mind) will have some multiplayer component, but it won’t be nearly as strong as games where the players must interact. I do think I have some contradictory statements in the description, so I’ll go ahead and make some revisions to it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s