Category Archives: Dan’s Blog

Dan Buckstein’s CSCI 5550 blog posts.

Paper: Control vs. complexity in games: comparing arousal in 2D game prototypes


The two of us chose this study as we both shared an interest in 2d game design. The article is rather short and doesn’t have a large amount of details, but the study itself takes a look at an important aspect of game design: the relationship between complexity and control.


Michael Lankes, Wolfgang Hochleitner, Christina Hochleitner, and Nina Lehner. 2012. Control vs. complexity in games: comparing arousal in 2D game prototypes. In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Fun and Games (FnG ’12). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 101-104.


This study takes a look at the correlation between player arousal and complexity of control in games. The authors hypothesize that more complicated controls will increase arousal in players who are faced with more ways to influence game play. Similarly, this implies that less complexity will make the game simpler and will reduce a player’s level of arousal. To test this, the researchers used a simple 2D game involving running and jumping, with two different versions that only vary in their controls. The simpler version of the game only involved using the mouse to move platforms, while the more complicated version required players to also use one hand on the keyboard to jump. The study found using physiological methods that the version of the game with more difficult controls resulted in players having higher arousal levels. The study suggests several implications for game designers, including using complexity as a tool to make specific game events more exciting, such as a game’s climax. However, the study notes that it was limited by a small sample size and a single game genre.

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Paper: Art of Defense: A Collaborative Handheld Augmented Reality Board Game


Cooperating with fellow players by representing tangible objects in a virtual world!


Huynh, D., Raveendran, K., Xy, Y., Spreen, K. & MacIntyre, B. (2009). Art of Defense: a collaborative handheld augmented reality board game. Sandbox ’09: Proc. of 2009 ACM SIGGRAPH Symposium on Video Games, 135-142. doi: 10.1145/1581073.1581095


The authors of this paper were interested in exploring the affordances, constraints and player experience of mobile (handheld) augmented reality (AR) games. One of the key motivators is the ability to collaborate and socialize while playing such games; thus they analyze such products as social games. To explore all this, the authors created a game called Art of Defense (AoD), a tangible AR game that requires the players to interact with board game elements in the real world to drive the virtual simulation. The authors first discuss the technical details behind the game, the design considerations and, finally (and most importantly) the player experience. To evaluate player experience, the authors conducted a formal study with twelve participants. Participants played the game in pairs and were recorded on video, and observed, with a Continue reading

Paper: Affective Game Engines: Motivation and Requirements


With all the powerful, high-end game development tools and technologies we have available to us, why have we not embraced emotion as a core objective for development? Or have we?


Hudlicka, E. (2009). Affective game engines: motivation and requirements. Proc. of FDG ’09, 299-306. doi: 10.1145/1536513.1536565


The problem identified in the paper is that affective and social realism of games is lacking. This is due to the general absence of development tools and frameworks that support emotion sensing and recognition, computational models of emotion and emotionally-capable game AI. The paper identifies these themes as requirements for a Continue reading

Paper: The Psychophysiology of James Bond

Taking care of some baddies in James Bond 007: Nightfire.

What do players feel when they take down a bad guy in a first person shooter, such as James Bond 007: Nightfire?


Ravaja, N., Turpeinen, M., Saari, T., Puttonen, S. & Keltikangas-Jarvinen, L. (2008). The psychophysiology of James Bond: phasic emotional responses to violent video game events. Emotion, 8(1), 114-120. doi: 10.1037/1528-3542.8.1.114


In the exploratory nature of this paper, the authors describe a study designed to help better understand emotional responses to violent events in video games. The genre that is evaluated is the first person shooter (FPS) genre, using James Bond 007: Nightfire as the exemplary game. The authors state that little is known about the emotional responses that players experience when a violent event occurs in video games. As such, the goal was not to solve any specific problem, but rather to analyze players’ reactions when four specific events occur in Nightfire: the player wounds an enemy, the player kills an enemy, the player’s avatar (Bond) is wounded by an enemy, and Bond is killed by an enemy.

The authors conducted a study using facial electromyographic (EMG) activity and electrodermal activity (EDA) to index positively and negatively-valenced emotions. The authors identify several hypotheses that the results of the study present as plausible. First, upon wounding or killing an enemy, players exhibited negatively-valenced high-arousal emotions; against the original expectation that these events would trigger joyous feelings in response to the small ‘victory’ of defeating a bad guy, players felt anxious, possibly due to an ingrained moral code which states that injuring and killing is wrong. The second hypothesis was Continue reading