Making Maps Available for Play: Analyzing the Design of Game Cartography Interfaces

Published in ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 2019

Recommended citation: Toups, Z. O., Lalone, N., Alharthi, S. A., Sharma, H. N., & Webb, A. M. (2019). Making Maps Available for Play: Analyzing the Design of Game Cartography Interfaces. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 26(5), 1-43. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3336144

Maps in video games have grown into complex interactive systems alongside video games themselves. What map systems have done and currently do have not been cataloged or evaluated. We trace the history of game map interfaces from their paper-based inspiration to their current smart phone-like appearance. Read-only map interfaces enable players to consume maps, which is sufficient for wayfinding. Game cartography interfaces enable players to persistently modify maps, expanding the range of activity to support planning and coordination. We employ thematic analysis on game cartography interfaces, contributing a near-exhaustive catalog of games featuring such interfaces, a set of properties to describe and design such interfaces, a collection of play activities that relate to cartography, and a framework to identify what properties promote the activities. We expect that designers will find the contributions enable them to promote desired play experiences through game map interface design.

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Toups, Z. O., Lalone, N., Alharthi, S. A., Sharma, H. N., & Webb, A. M. (2019). Making Maps Available for Play: Analyzing the Design of Game Cartography Interfaces. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 26(5), 1-43.