Striving for balance: A look at gameplay requirements of massively multiplayer online role-playing games

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    Engineering gameplay requirements is the most important task for game development organizations. Game industry discourse is concerned with continuous redesign of gameplay to enhance players’ ex- perience and boost game’s appeal. However, accounts of gameplay requirements practices are rare. In responding to calls for more research into gameplay requirements engineering, we performed an ex- ploratory study in the context of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), from the perspective of practitioners involved in the field. Sixteen practitioners from three leading MMORPG- producing companies were interviewed and their gameplay requirements documents were reviewed. In- terviewing and qualitative data analysis occurred in a cyclical process with results at each stage of the study informing decisions about data collection and analysis in the next. The analysis revealed a process of striving to reach a balance among three perspectives of gameplay requirements: a process perspective, an artifact perspective and a player-designer relationship perspec- tive. This balance-driven process is co-created by game developers and players, is endless within the MMORPG, and is happening both in-game and off-game. It heavily relies on ’paper-prototyping’ and play- testing for the purpose of gameplay requirements validation. The study concludes with discussion on validity threats and on implications for requirements engineering research, practice and education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)54-75
    Number of pages22
    JournalThe Journal of systems and software
    Early online date3 Aug 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


    • Requirements engineering
    • Gameplay requirements
    • Requirements elicitation
    • Qualitative interview-based study
    • Empirical research method
    • 2023 OA procedure


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