Information Seeking Behaviour and Failure in First Person Shooters

Andy Keenan


This paper analyzes first-person shooter interfaces from an information seeking behaviour framework. Information seeking behaviour proposes that individuals pose information queries to bridge gaps in their knowledge. These cognitive gaps occur in daily life and normally involve processes outside the standard model of information retrieval (like searching a library catalogue). Individuals attempt to gather information to overcome these cognitive gaps using a variety of approaches from using the Internet to reading a book to consulting with a friend. This cognitive gap model is similar to challenges in video games. Players encounter challenges that requires a series of decisions to complete. To overcome these challenges or cognitive gaps, players must gather information and create a strategy to solve the challenge. The information presented in a video game assists players to overcome cognitive gaps and complete challenges. As the first-person shooter genre develops, the type of information presented in the interface has changed. This paper conducts a historical analysis of FPS interfaces and documents their development as information sources. This paper finds that FPS interfaces have provided players with increasing amounts of information to help them overcome challenges and bridge cognitive gaps. In modern FPS games like Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, information is provided during moments of failure and provides rich encounters to help players bridge their cognitive gaps. This paper concludes that failure provides a unique instance for players to learn from their mistakes and bridge cognitive gaps in their strategy. Games (other than first-person shooters) can use failure as a teachable moment and incorporate failure as an information seeking behaviour instance.