Taylor et al’s article “Me and Lee: Identification and the Play of Attraction in The Walking Dead” is about a microethnographic participatory research project focused around eight players of the point and click adventure game/visual novel The Walking Dead. The game has similarities to both the graphic novel and television show in terms of the world, however the main characters of the game are Lee and Clementine.
The purpose of the study was to explore “whether, how, and through what processes the players form associations with the game’s playable character” (Taylor et al). The researchers carefully provide a literature review, detailing the limitations of avatar/identification research that has been conducted within Game Studies. Their methodology was meant to be on a small scale with exploratory aims. They provide a working schema for accounting for these associations as “attractors” or complex categories: simulated (relating to the ludic gameworld), lived (relating to player real world experience), conventional (player’s relation to other similar types of genre or media), and situated (localized and embodied settings of play).
I felt that the study provided a lot of pertinent and useful information, including the detailed lit review, participant descriptions, and methodology walk-through. I thought this would be really useful for anyone beginning work in Game Studies, because it provides such a strong description of the study, but also of the intention of the study and why the researchers set out to do the research in the first place. I had previously considered microethnography for studying games, but Taylor et al also included the participatory turn on this research, which they observed isn’t typical for the microethnography, at least not in game studies. They had participants look back at particular moments of play and reflect on their decision making. It was through the descriptions and reflections of participants that Taylor et al determined the four attractors that explained how players form associations with in-game characters. I really appreciated the detail included for it being article length and found it useful for considering my own microstudy this semester.
Taylor, Nicholas, Chris Kampe, and Kristina Bell. “Me and Lee: Identification and the Play of Attraction in The Walking Dead.” Game Studies: International Journal of Computer Game Research 15.1 (2015): n. pag. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.