A thesis submitted to Victoria University of Wellington in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science.
Interaction with video games differs from the usual understanding of HCI because people play video games rather than use them. In this dissertation we ask: ``How can we analyse human-computer interaction in video games when the interaction in question is play?'' We employ a qualitative case study methodology to gather data about five popular video games: Civilization III, Fable, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Half-Life 2, and The Sims 2. Our core data comes from observation and interview sessions with twenty-five experienced players of these games.

We make three key contributions to video game HCI: 1) We introduce video game values as a means to analyse play as a form of human-computer interaction and show how the values of PADIA and LUDUS influence all aspects of play; 2) we develop a video game activity framework for describing and analysing video game play at multiple levels of detail and context; and 3) we extend the video game activity framework to include contradictions and breakdowns as a means to describe and analyse the role of conflict and challenge in video game play.
Started: April 2003
Submitted: October 2007
Defended: June 2008
Deposited in University Library: August 2008
Degree Conferred: May 2009