Tag Archives: psychophysiology

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.

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Paper: Entertainment modeling through physiology in physical play

A child playing Bug-Smasher


Yannakakis, Georgios N., and John Hallam. “Entertainment modeling through physiology in physical play.” International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 66.10 (2008): 741-755.


The goal of this paper was to provide an entertainment children-user model which predicts fun when children play a physical game. This entertainment model would predict the fun, by analyzing physiological measures.
They had two challenges to overcome for creating this model. The first challenge was how can we create this model, I mean using which existing technique? And the second challenge was how can we eliminate the impact of physical activities from captured physiological measures (I mean a physical activity and a physical game have some common features that are noises in prediction model)?
To producing this model, the authors designed two experiments, and used some feature selection algorithms and classification mechanisms. In the other words, they used and compared two feature extraction algorithms and three classification algorithms.

At the end, an entertainment model generates a number y that shows how much “fun” is it. For example in comparison of two games, the more fun game gets the higher value.

Main Experiment (the first experiment)

Seventy two normal-weighted children whose ages cover a range between 8 and 10 years participated in the main experiment. They played Bug-Smasher in nine variants on the Playware playground. The description of Bug-Smasher game is as follows:

The “Bug-Smasher” game is used as Continue reading

Paper: How psychophysiology can aid the design process of casual games: a tale of stress, facial muscles, and paper beasts

IOM Measures iPad Hand


Stefano Gualeni, Dirk Janssen, and Licia Calvi. 2012. How psychophysiology can aid the design process of casual games: a tale of stress, facial muscles, and paper beasts. In Proceedings of the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG ’12). http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2282338.2282369


In this paper, the authors performed experiments involving measuring participants’ physiological state, while they 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: Fundamentals of Physiological Computing


Fairclough, Stephen H. “Fundamentals of physiological computing.” Interacting with computers 21, no. 1 (2009): 133-145. (PDF)


Electrical sensors attached to the human provide means to abstract physiological measures in real-time. Each sensor is designed to collect a particular stream of health data, which may correspond to the internal state of the person. The physiological measures are not created in vacuum, that is, they reflect some internal change in the organism. By that extension, several areas of research have tried to identify the reverse association between the physiological indicators and the internal state. One such area is the emerging field of physiological computing. The premise being that physiology and psychology may share some relationship, which either correlates or indicates the internal emotional state of the person.


The area of physiological computing has a relatively recent history. Several events over the past few decades have contributed to their popularization. Advancement and miniaturization of electrical sensors, popularization of body sensors for commercial and industrial purposes, and associated reduction in costs have allowed for their greater use and innovative applications.

It is believed that the communication between humans and computers is indeed a powerful and overt interaction. The intention of the user is translated to the operating system via keyboard and mouse. However, it is also asymmetrical with respect to information and state exchange; the computer can display a significant amount of information regarding its inner state, i.e. cpu speed, memory etc. however it has absolutely no information about the inner state of the user.
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