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Towards an Ontological Language for Game Analysis José P. Zagal, Michael Mateas, Clara Fernández-Vara, Brian Hochhalter, Nolan Lichti College of Computing and School of Literature, Communication and Culture Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 30332, USA {jp,michaelm}@cc.gatech.edu, clara.fernandez@lcc.gatech.edu, brianhoch@mac.com, nolanlichti@hotmail.com
ABSTRACT The Game Ontology Project (GOP) is creating a framework for describing, analyzing and studying games, by defining a hierarchy of concepts abstracted from an analysis of many specific games. GOP borrows concepts and methods from prototype theory as well as grounded theory to achieve a framework that is always growing and changing as new games are analyzed or particular research questions are explored. The top level of the ontology (interface, rules, goals, entities, and entity manipulation) is described as well as a particular ontological entry. Finally, by engaging in three short discussions centered on relevant games studies research questions, the ontology’s utility is demonstrated. Keywords Game analysis, game design, ontology INTRODUCTION This paper introduces the Game Ontology Project (GOP) as a framework for describing, analyzing and studying games. We begin by positioning the GOP in the context of other projects in the field of game studies. Next, we present the theoretical and methodological influences that have shaped both our conceptual understanding of the GOP and its development. We continue with an overview describing its structure and overall hierarchy. Finally, we outline a few ways in which the GOP scaffolds and affords the exploration of interesting research questions and describe some future directions our work will take. RELATED WORK Game designers have called for a design language [5, 6, 16, 17], noting that designers currently lack a unified vocabulary for describing existing games and thinking through the design of new ones. Many of the proposed approaches focus on offering aid to the designer, either in the form of design patterns [2, 3, 16], which name and describe design elements, or in the closely-related notion of design rules, which offer advice and guidelines for specific design situations [9, 10]. Other analyses draw methods and terminology from various humanistic disciplines- for example, games have been analyzed in terms of their use of space [14], as semiotic systems [18], as a
Proceedings of DiGRA 2005 Conference: Changing Views – Worlds in Play . © 2005 Authors & Digital Games Research Association DiGRA. Personal and educational classroom use of this paper is allowed, commercial use requires specific permission from the author.