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On Psycho-physiological Player-centric Game Experiences

Ren, Shen, Engineering & Information Technology, UNSW Canberra, UNSW


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  • Title:
    On Psycho-physiological Player-centric Game Experiences
  • Author/Creator/Curator: Ren, Shen, Engineering & Information Technology, UNSW Canberra, UNSW
  • Subjects: Game Research; Game; Computer Game; Game Design; HCI; BCI; Psycho-physiological Data; Human Experience; Game Play; Player Experience; Experience; Electroencephalographic Data; EEG; Challenge
  • Resource type: Thesis
  • Type of thesis: Ph.D.
  • Date: 2015
  • Supervisor: Abbas, Hussein A., Engineering & Information Technology, UNSW Canberra, UNSW; Barlow, Michael, Engineering & Information Technology, UNSW Canberra, UNSW
  • Language: English
  • Grants: Scheme - N/A
  • Permissions: This work can be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.
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  • Description: Computer games continue to receive increasing attention in industry and academia as a new kind of media, a new research focal point, a new art-form and an influential cultural force. However, compared to the significant economic and cultural impact and maturity of the game industry, the academic entertainment and serious game research field is in its infancy. This is particularly noteworthy when compared with the history of classic game theory studies. Currently, the game industry appears to rely heavily upon heuristics, craft and experience to inform design and production decisions, with little guidance from formal theory. However, the current renaissance in new multi-disciplinary game-based fields, including: game-based learning, positive impact games, social reality games, serious games and gamification, increases the necessity for a theory of player experience in interactive entertainment-oriented game play. Such a theory is far from trivial, as we first need to understand the fundamental challenges that occur at the interface between players and games during game play. This thesis will focus on understanding these challenges, using psycho-physiological data as a means to interface human players with games.Thus, the focal research question in this thesis is `What are the main challenges faced when using psycho- physiological data as a mediator for player-experience in a computer game?'Both playing and non-playing analysis have been performed in this thesis to answer this question. Three experiments were conducted, in the context of the game `Snake', the board game `Go' and interactive problem solving to distil the challenges. Games, human game experience, and the interaction between human players and games as game play have been analysed and defined. Game information, human information, game performance and psycho-physiological data, including electroencephalographic data during game play were collected to facilitate the analysis. The fundamental results reinforce the literature that psycho-physiological signals during game play do encode the game experience of human players, and electroencephalographic signals could also be used as an input channel for games during game play.The main challenges recognised in using psycho-physiological data to facilitate player experience lie in the multiple factors that need to be considered when analysing the human game experience and game play interaction. From the perspective of human game experience, an ensemble of indicators is needed to make an accurate judgement of the human game experience. This appears an inherent requirement because of the multi-faceted view of what an experience of game play is. Any game experience model must, of necessity, be game and context-dependent due to the complexity and variation of each game. From the perspective of game play interaction, electroencephalographic signals can act as a bridge between human players and games to facilitate game design. However, to design optimal game experiences for human players, the bridge needs more factors to be considered, including the game context and the individual human experience model.In summary, the studies presented in this thesis concern the use of psycho-physiological data to mediate player experience. They show the potential of these signals in adaptive game design to optimise a player's game experience, while also clearly demonstrating a number of core challenges that need to be overcome before an overarching theory for player-experience can be fully established.

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