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Communally Designed Deception: Participatory Technical Communication Practices in an Amateur Game Design Community

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Purpose: As it is often difficult to study professional game design practices from a technical communication perspective, this exploratory study seeks to discover accessible alternatives in amateur communities engaged in participatory design.
Methods: Using an exploratory, mixed methods single-case study model, we analyzed discourse and technical communication practices in a community focused on designing and playing social deception games across a network of digital platforms, with an eye toward how administrators, designers, and players negotiated design challenges.
Results: The amateur game design community observed here participates in professional design practices that can be mapped onto Eyman's (2008) framework for technical communication in games. Communities such as the subject-participants in this study produce unique documentation tracing design processes in ways some professional studios do not (Sansone, 2014) and foreground user experience considerations in observable, archived discussions.
Conclusion: Amateur game design communities are as interested in maintaining strong user experiences and balanced gameplay as professional studios, as indicated by this study, and may use similar tactics to achieve results. The comparisons allowed construction of a framework for comparing amateur and professional designs in terms of tech comm practices. For technical communicators who must understand and account for world-making processes, demonstrating how amateur practice may compare to professional practice opens up new potential sites of study in the service of constructing game design ecologies.

Keywords: GAME DESIGN ECOLOGY; PARTICIPATORY DESIGN; PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE; SOCIAL GAMING; TRANSMEDIA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2019

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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