Most of the cultural probes went over quite well with our group as they were all engaged and excited about the activities offered. While most of the findings were not surprising, there were some outcomes we did not expect.
-Which games do you usually play?
-How often do you attend club meets?
-Can you tell which pieces are from which kits?
-How often do you spend your time with club members outside club time?
-Which games did you record on the Key Moments probe?
-Why is the Rule Changing probe blank?
-How do you think the Key Moments probe affected your games?
-How did you feel about building your own models?
In the pre-deployment of the probes, we interviewed each member individually. We thought this would be the easiest way to keep track of their reactions. Upon showing the members our probes, their interest consistently went to the pieces needed to create their own minion. During our explanation of the probes, their interest peaked at the instructions for the Key Moments probe. “We always discuss the aftermath of the games and try to recall turning points and highlights during the game.” They believed this probe could, “help us recall parts of our games with more accuracy” and add to their gaming experience. With the other probes, their interest seemed to wane (they were quick to acknowledge the instructions and move on to the next probe) until we reached the boxes of pieces. We opened the boxes and showed them what was inside. Each of them took a piece at a time and inspected them. And each one of them guessed which army and even which individual kit each piece came in, without prompting.
We decided to interview the club members as a group when we got our probes back, because they told us that they got together and did the probes as a group. We thought this would be a good opportunity to observe their behaviour when they are together. The members were very excited to tell us about the Key Moments probe. “We made this probe into another game, it helped us remember stuff about our games that we wouldn’t otherwise.” The notes that they put onto the probe are very narrative-like and have very sarcastic tones. “We read out what we were writing and made jokes of our victories and defeats.” The group did not hesitate to fill us in on details about their game. When we asked then about the unfinished Rule Changing probe, the group collectively giggled and apologized for, “completely forgetting about that thing.” Throughout the interview the group recalled one of the games that was the subject of the Key Moments probe. They bantered back and fourth discussing their game and fantasizing about their strategies in future games. “We weren’t as excited about the build your own guy thing…” they seemed to only build a model because the pieces were there.
Key Game Moments:
This was by far the most popular cultural probe. This may have been because all members participated in the game with which the probe was used – that being War Machine or Axis & Allies. The competitive nature of the group was well complimented by this cultural probe. Players engaged in long drawn out conversations over strategy and tactics and thoroughly enjoyed reliving moments of victory and spectacular failure at the same time. “We recorded our moments in this narrative-note form while talking out loud. It was hilarious to get a sense of what everyone was feeling after a turning point in the game happened. We said out loud what we wrote down and it really got us even more pumped to continue the game.”
“Holy piss, those Russians. They fight like wolves. Wolves on steroids. With anger problems. Mother of God…”
“Think we just got handed Britain. Gee, thanks Churchill!”
“German counter attack? LOL Vodka for everyone!”
“And now they’re coming for me…Oh my Gooooooooooooooood!!!!!!”
“Focus on Germany, ignore pansy yellows.”
“Defenders and attackers all dead L GG”
“Raped again. It hurts a lot :’(“
“Nazis might be English soon…other way around.”
As can be seen in the writing on the probe, players injected humour and intensity into their re-telling of the game. Results of this cultural probe suggest our group is: highly competitive, like to laugh/have a good time, and not take anything too seriously.
Rule Changing Card:
None of our participants filled out the rule-changing card despite it being arguably the shortest/easiest one to complete. During the interviews all participants said they were too distracted by the other probes and forgot about completing this one. Despite this probes shortcomings we did learn that our group, once engaged with something, are highly focused.
Create your own Minion:
All participants had fun with the task but because none were actually going to be played with or could be imbued with special powers like the signature pieces of the game there was not much interest or creativity placed into the design of minions. We were hoping to see participants think outside the box on this one by giving minions multiple arms, heads, etc.
That being said their creativity could have been limited by the pieces offered to them as they were mostly of the same race. This may suggest that when the activity doesn’t directly benefit members of the group toward their game that they do not try as hard or put in as much effort.
One participant did seem to break the mold and make an unusual character that seems to specialize in defense as it has a large shield.
Defend your Base:
Since all participants are familiar with these types of games they quickly completed this probe without much trouble although it was hard to identify any differences between their responses. Most participants just surrounded their house with units.
The puzzles actually did better than expected. It was thought that the group unless particularly interested in the card game Yu-Gi-Oh would not even bother to attempt it as the choice was completely optional. Most players were able to attempt and complete the easy and medium puzzles, while the main member of the group who was interested in the game successfully completed all 3.
Satisfaction and enjoyment levels weren’t particularly high as one player said “because we aren’t into Yu-Gi-Oh we didn’t want to spend too much time on it. We completed the puzzles after some thought but didn’t even bother with the hard one.” This tells us that our group will take on a challenge and put time and effort into it.
Major Take-Aways Summarized:
The group gets together purely to play games and have fun so it is no surprise that they enjoyed most of our cultural probes. All together our results reflect their personality as being highly motivated and engaged when they find something they enjoy, very competitive with one another, and also respond well and like to meet intellectual/personal challenges.
This is quite a close group. Even though we gave them instructions for only two of our probes that could be group-based, they brought together their probes and completed them together. This shows they really enjoy each other’s company and try to include each other in group activities as much as they can.
Overall, the cultural probes and interviews gave us much needed inspiration and valuable insight into how the members of the Roll to Hit Club think and act. We admit though, we were not sure of ourselves in our pre-deployment interview and how the cultural probes would turn out. Questions during the interviews may have been too general, maybe a consequence of separating the interviews to individuals. If done differently, we would have interviewed the members as a group. We would be able to ask more specific questions like, “You mentioned that your club plays Warmachine now, do any of you seem to win more?” and carefully observe their reactions to each other and the question.
The end interview was, by far, much more enjoyable for both parties, especially the club members, we think. Their excitement for our Key Moments probe and the club’s willingness to share their experience set the standard of our future assignments to be almost exclusively group or partner orientated. However, questions asked during this interview suffered from being too general as well. With the familiarity that we have gained from spending time with this group, we could ask very specific questions, such as, “In a game of Warmachine, between players with Cryx and Menoth, do any of you think up reasons why these two armies would be clashing?” We would include questions that would touch on the group’s creativity. This would show us how imaginative the members can be given a certain setting or theme, would objective games versus assassination games change the stories the club members create.