Author Archives | Rachel Shadoan

Plant Wars Player Patterns: Visualization as Scaffolding for Ethnographic Insight

Rachel

Rachel Shadoan

Editor’s note: This post for the April ‘Ethnomining‘ edition comes from Rachel Shadoan and Alicia Dudek. Following on the past posts about hybrid methods, this one features another interesting case study involving an on-line role-playing game. Their work correspond to a different approach, based on visualizations, than what we saw in the two previous posts.

Rachel Shadoan @RachelShadoan likes to find answers to interesting questions, and build interesting things using those answers. Currently she is answering interesting questions in the Intel Labs using a combination of data visualization, data mining, and ethnographic techniques.

adudek_med

Alicia Dudek


Alicia Dudek @aliciadudek is a design ethnographer and user experience consultant
. Her passion is  finding unusual solutions to the usual problems. Currently, she is finding unusual solutions for Deloitte Digital, where she specializes in engaging stakeholders in research insights through participatory design workshops.

____________________________________________________________________________

This is one of the visualizations we created for the research. The horizontal axis is date; the vertical axis is time of day as recorded by the Plant Wars server. Each mark on the chart represents a single instance of in-game training. In Plant Wars, a player can train their plant in one of three areas--speed, defense, or attack. The different colors of the marks corresponds to the characteristic being trained, while the radius of the mark encodes the number of stat points received from the training. The time shift can be seen clearly in this visualization: prior to June, this player starts playing in earnest around 16:00 server time. By October, the player has somewhat settled on starting play around 10:00 am.

This is one of the visualizations we created for the research. The horizontal axis is date; the vertical axis is time of day as recorded by the Plant Wars server. Each mark on the chart represents a single instance of in-game training. In Plant Wars, a player can train their plant in one of three areas–speed, defense, or attack. The different colors of the marks corresponds to the characteristic being trained, while the radius of the mark encodes the number of stat points received from the training. The time shift can be seen clearly in this visualization: prior to June, this player starts playing in earnest around 16:00 server time. By October, the player has somewhat settled on starting play around 10:00 am.

A few weeks into our study of Plant Wars, an online text-based fighting RPG developed by Jon Evans of Artful Dodger Software, we encountered a mystery. We had visualized the server log data that records the players’ in-game activities, and discovered a pattern as obvious as it was inexplicable: in June 2009, the top Plant Wars players began slowly shifting the time of day in which they were playing. Over a period of six months, the time that the top players started playing each day shifted by nearly six hours. We poured over the server log data, checking the processing code for errors, for time zone issues, for any possible explanation of this shift in play pattern. Using only the server log data, we came up empty-handed. What was going on?

Read More…

Advertisements