How the Players Get Their Spots: A Study of Playstyle Emergence in Digital Games

Publications: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


How, when, and why do players settle into a particular playstyle when playing a new digital game? Though some aspects of these questions have been addressed in player research (e.g. through player typologies), we are still lacking comprehensive answers that adequately account for the roles of both the player and the game in the manifestation of playstyles. The qualitative study presented here is a middle-ground, on-the-ground look into how playstyles emerge when players sit down to play a new digital game. It frames playstyles as an in-game function of the player’s ludic habitus – their past experiences, knowledge, and attitudes. The study takes the form of a playtest with ten players, using a custom adventure game/hypertext fiction prototype developed in Twine, which offered two modes of engagement – slower reading of poetic text, and faster-paced exploration and puzzle-solving. The study found that playstyles consolidate at specific moments of discovery (e.g. upon solving an early puzzle), when the player’s ludic habitus contextually interprets game design cues and reacts with a player-preferred form of engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication3rd IEEE Conference on Games
Number of pages8
Place of PublicationCopenhagen, Denmark
PublisherIEEE conference proceedings
Publication date19 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2021


  • playstyle
  • engagement
  • habitus
  • subfields of practice
  • player studies
  • game design

Artistic research

  • Yes

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