Tag Archives: affective gaming

Paper: Pleasure to Play, Arousal to Stay: The Effect of Player Emotions on Digital Game Preferences and Playing Time


One benefit to reading a large number of research articles is gaining the ability to identify flaws in studies and reasoning. In particular, a study I reviewed by Barr et. al. (2007) helped me to get an idea of the sorts of methods that are appropriate for a study in HCI, and what researchers should and should not do in their studies. It was quite insightful for me to read a primarily theoretical paper then follow it up with an article about an experiment such as this one.

Reference Information

Pleasure to Play, Arousal to Stay: The Effect of Player Emotions on Digital Game Preferences and Playing Time. Poels, Karolien; van den Hoogen, Wouter; Ijsselsteijn, Wijnand; de Kort, Yvonne. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Jan 2012, Vol. 15, No. 1: 1-6. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0040


This article studies the relationships between player emotion, playing time, and game preferences. There has not been a substantial amount of research studying the relationships between these three factors, particularly in the home environment, as games have moved from the arcades to homes in the last 20-30 years. In the study, nineteen participants played four different games (two first person shooters and two racing games), and were analyzed with physiological measurements as well as self-reports. Three categories of emotions were evaluated: pleasure, arousal, and dominance. The study found that pleasure predicted short-term game preference while arousal predicted long-term game preference. Pleasure also strongly predicted playing time, while arousal only contributed to long-term playing time. The study was not able to accurately measure the effects of dominance on gameplay or preferences.

Continue reading

Paper: Between Challenge and Defeat: Repeated Player-Death and Game Enjoyment


I chose this article based on my own experiences with frustration from dying repeatedly in video games. It did come as a bit of a surprise that repeated player-death was not a main focus of the study, although I found some interesting insights from reading the paper. I would consider using this article as a reference in my own studies of gamer frustrations, particularly since I would like to draw attention to the theories of transient relief and challenge feedback.

Hoogen, Wouter van den; Poels, Karolien; IJsselsteijn, Wijnand; Kort, de, Yvonne. Between Challenge and Defeat: Repeated Player-Death and Game Enjoyment. Media Psychology. Oct 2012, Vol. 15, No. 4: 443-459




This study is a replication and extension of a 2008 study by Ravaja et. al. that examines the effect of character death on player game experiences. Unintuitively, Ravaja’s study found that players actually show positive emotions (especially smiling) during character death events; however, players also retroactively self-reported that they viewed death events negatively, which seems to conflict with the act of smiling. Ravaja did not explain why this is the case, so this study attempts to determine the reasoning behind why players choose to smile during events they perceive as negative.

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

Paper: Physiological compliance for social gaming analysis: Cooperative versus competitive play


I chose the following paper due to my personal interest in the topic of competitive vs. cooperative gameplay. As someone who was an avid gamer in the past, I believe I have a fair bit of experience and insight into the differences between these two types of games, as well as some ideas on how players behave based on which type of game they are playing. I was curious as to what sorts of conclusions the authors had found, as well what evidence supported their hypotheses.

Reference Information

Chanel, G., Matias Kivikangas, J., & Ravaja, N. (2012). Physiological compliance for social gaming analysis: cooperative versus competitive play. Interacting with Computers. British Informatics Society Limited. Retrieved from http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S095354381200046X. DOI: 10.1016/j.intcom.2012.04.012


This article examines the relationship between video game players’ self-reported social presence and their physiological compliance, i.e. the frequency at which players interact with each other at a physiological level. It simultaneously attempts to distinguish cooperative and competitive gameplay, and determine how physiological compliance differs between the two types of games. The authors hypothesized and then found evidence to support the theories that physiological compliance was linked with competitive game, as well as positively correlated with social presence. Their experiment used 21 pairs of participants, who were asked to play Bomberman with each other in either a competitive or cooperative fashion. Participants’ physiological responses to the game were measured with sensors, and they also completed a Game Experience Questionnaire (GEQ) to determine their empathy, positive/negative affect, and other elements of their social presence.


My personal interest in this study was focused primarily on the differences between competitive vs. cooperative gameplay. When I saw that the proposed game to be used in the experiment was Bomberman, I was particularly disappointed. As someone who is familiar with the series, I believe that this was a poor choice of game for the study. While the paper acknowledges that the choice of only one game was a limitation of their study, it does not justify why they chose only one game, and why that game was Bomberman. It seems like a very arbitrary choice, particularly since the game has several gameplay elements that may confound the study. For example, two players on the same team in a game of Bomberman typically do not need to interact with each other; in fact, the nature of the game is such that a player would want to minimize their proximity to their ally, and instead put their effort into destroying their enemies. It is not particularly surprising that the study found a higher level of physiological compliance for competitive gameplay, given that their ‘cooperative’ gameplay was not significantly different than a single player experience. Continue reading

Introducing CSCI 5550 Affective Gaming, UX and HCI


About CSCI 5550

Over the winter term of 2013, this website will be used for blog posts from the UOIT graduate course CSCI 5550 about Affective Gaming, Human-Computer Interaction and User Experience in Interactive Entertainment. The course is designed as a reading course, where students present their reflections on research papers online on this blog as well as in class. We have been using Wallwisher online to brainstorm papers and topics in the course and are currently making a selection of research papers that will be discussed here.
Continue reading