Two social motives are distinguished by Motive Disposition Theory: affiliation and power. Motives orient, select and energize our behaviour, suggesting that the choices of power-motivated individuals should be guided by power cues, such as the appearance of strength in a game character or avatar. In study 1 we demonstrate that participants were more likely to pick strong-looking Pokémon for a fight and cute Pokémon as a companion. In addition, we show that even when considering these contexts, the power motive predicts preferences for a powerful appearance, whereas affiliation does not. In study 2 we replicate the study 1 findings and distinguish between two ways to enact the power motive (prosocial and dominant power). We demonstrate that the dominance, but not the prosociality, facet drives the preference for strong-looking Pokémon. Our findings suggest that the need to influence others—the power motive—drives the choice for battle companions who symbolize strength.
Increasingly, modern boardgames incorporate digital apps and tools to deliver content in novel ways. Despite disparate approaches to incorporating digital tools in otherwise non-digital boardgames, there has to date been no detailed classification of the different roles that these tools play in supporting gameplay. In this paper, we present a model for understanding hybrid boardgame play as performing a set of discrete functions. Through a mixed-methods approach incorporating critical play sessions, a survey of 237 boardgame players, and interviews with 18 boardgame designers and publishers, we identified the key functions performed by the digital tools in these games. Using affinity mapping, we grouped these functions into eight core categories, which were tested and refined using a survey of 44 boardgame players and designers. This model defines and classifies the diverse functions that digital tools perform in hybrid digital boardgames, demonstrating their range and potential application for researchers and game designers.
Graphical user authentication (GUA) is a common alternative to text-based user authentication, where people are required to draw graphical passwords on background images. Such schemes are theoretically considered remarkably secure because they offer a large password space. However, people tend to create their passwords on salient image areas introducing high password predictability. Aiming to help people use the password space more effectively, we propose a gameful password creation process. In this paper, we present GamePass, a gamified mechanism that integrates the GUA password creation process. We provide the first evidence that it is possible to nudge people towards better password choices by gamifying the process. GamePass randomly guides participants' attention to areas other than the salient areas of authentication images, makes the password creation process more fun, and people are more engaged. Gamifying the password creation process enables users to interact better and make less predictable graphical password choices instead of being forced to use a strict password policy.
Many serious games are most effective when played regularly; however, little is known about how individual game elements support player adherence over time. This work draws on evidence from existing frameworks and game design theories as well as from the design of casual games to investigate how individual game mechanics affect player attrition in a serious game. We implemented a math-learning game in which we could individually layer various game mechanics, and over the course of 3 weeks, 99 participants played one of six versions: Baseline, Rewards, Novelty, Completion, Waiting, or Blocking. We compared the game versions by analyzing the players' performance as well as behaviour. Using survival analysis, we identified that the addition of Completion and Blocking mechanics facilitated the strongest sustained engagement. These findings are congruent with existing theories of player experience and promote the development of guidelines on designing for sustained engagement in serious games.
The landscape of digital games is segregated by player ability. For example, sighted players have a multitude of highly visual games at their disposal, while blind players may choose from a variety of audio games. Attempts at improving cross-ability access to any of those are often limited in the experience they provide, or disregard multiplayer experiences. We explore ability-based asymmetric roles as a design approach to create engaging and challenging mixed-ability play. Our team designed and developed two collaborative testbed games exploring asymmetric interdependent roles. In a remote study with 13 mixed-visual-ability pairs we assessed how roles affected perceptions of engagement, competence, and autonomy, using a mixed-methods approach. The games provided an engaging and challenging experience, in which differences in visual ability were not limiting. Our results underline how experiences unequal by design can give rise to an equitable joint experience.
Videogames' increasing cultural relevance and suffusion into everyday use contexts suggests they can no longer be considered novelties. Broadly speaking, games research at CHI has concerned two forms of peak experience—historically, research aimed to support flow, or maximise enjoyment and positive emotions; more recently, scholarship engages with more varied experiences of intense emotion, such as emotional challenge. In different ways, both approaches emphasise extra-ordinary player experience (PX). Conversely, videogame play and PX have become more routine—indeed, more ordinary—as the medium's cultural presence grows. In this paper, we argue that HCI games research is conceptually ill-equipped to investigate these increasingly common and often desirable experiences. We conceptualise "ordinary player experience'' – as familiar, emotionally moderate, co-attentive, and abstractly memorable – articulating a phenomenon whose apparent mundanity has seen it elude description to date. We discuss opportunities to productively employ ordinary PX in HCI games research, alongside conceptual implications for PX and player wellbeing.
We present an autobiographical design journey exploring the experience of returning to long-term single player games. Continuing progress from a previously saved game, particularly when substantial time has passed, is an understudied area in games research. To begin our exploration in this domain, we investigated what the return experience is like first-hand. By returning to four long-term single player games played extensively in the past, we revealed a phenomenon we call The Pivot Point, a ‘eureka’ moment in return gameplay. The pivot point anchors our design explorations, where we created prototypes to leverage the pivot point in reconnecting with the experience. These return experiences and subsequent prototyping iterations inform our understanding of how to design better returns to gameplay, which can benefit both producers and consumers of long-term single player games.
Video games are engaging multimedia experiences that require players’ cognitive, emotional, physical (in terms of controllers and exertion), and social faculties. Recent theorizing has suggested that these dimensions of demand can explain processes by which players engage with and respond to gameplay. A relatively new measure—the five-factor, 26-item Video Game Demand Scale (VGDS)—has been tested for dimensionality and measurement validity with English- and German-speaking players, but not for other play populations. Given the popularity of video games among Chinese-speaking players, this brief report demonstrates a successful translation of VGDS into Traditional Chinese (VGDS-C). A sample of N = 863 Chinese speakers in Taiwan were asked to recall and describe a recent gaming experience before completing the VGDS-C along with other gaming-related measures (tests of construct validity). VGDS-C was shown to be a reliable and valid way of assessing players’ perceptions of the myriad demands of video gaming.
Self-report assessment is important for research and game development, e.g., to gather data during play. Games can use dialogues with non-player characters (NPCs) to gather self-report data; however, players might respond differently to dialogues than questionnaires. Without guidance on how in-game assessment affects player perceptions and experiences, designers and researchers are in danger of making decisions that harm data quantity and quality, and perceptions of privacy. We conducted a user study to understand self-report collection from NPC dialogues and traditional in-game overlay questionnaires. Data quality and player experience measures autonomy, curiosity, immersion, and mastery did not differ significantly, although NPC dialogues enhanced meaning. NPC dialogues supported an increase in data quantity through voluntary 5-point scales but not via open responses; however, they also increased the perceived intimacy of shared information despite comparable objective intimacy. NPC dialogues are useful to gather quantitative self-report data. They enable a meaningful play experience but could facilitate negative effects related to privacy.
The current study explores the relationship between perceived cognitive and physical demands of a simple video game, and the balance of reward and effort that results in flow states during gameplay. Cognitive demands and both exertion-based and controller-based physical demands were perceived as lowest in situations where reward was high and effort was low (boredom), moderate when reward and effort were balanced (flow), and highest when the reward was low and effort was high (frustration). Surprisingly, player response times to a secondary task showed the greatest improvement when playing the frustrating video game condition. We interpret this latter finding as evidence of an observed task-switching effect: players initially tried to master the game’s over-challenging primary task before giving up and, instead, diverted attention toward a secondary in-game task that required less effort and thus, gave greater attentional rewards to the player. The implications of this cognitive offloading are discussed.
Emotionally impactful game experiences have garnered increasing interest within HCI games research. Yet the perspectives of designers have, to date, remained largely overlooked. We interviewed 14 indie game designers regarding their values and practices in designing emotionally impactful games. Counter to the focus of recent player experience (PX) studies, we find that while designers typically have a clear vision for the intended emotional impact, they aim for their games to provide a space for players to have their own personal experiences and interpretations. Despite this player-centric orientation, players were rarely involved before and during the production to evaluate the emotional experience. Based on these findings, we identify gaps between design practice and PX research, raise open questions around the design and evaluation of emotionally impactful game experiences, and outline opportunities for HCI games research to more productively support game designers.
Player agency is central to interactive narrative and games. While previous work focuses on analyzing player perception of agency through various lenses and phenomena, like meaningful choice and expectations, it is largely theoretical. Few user studies within games explore how players reason about and judge their own agency within interactive narratives. We present an interview study where participants rated their agency experiences within narrative-focused games and described their reasoning. The analysis suggests that agency perception depends on multiple factors beyond meaningful choice, such as social investment and genre-conventions. Participants described varying preferences and value judgements for different factors, indicating that individual differences have a deep impact on agency perception in narrative-focused gameplay. We discuss the implications of these cognitive variables on design, how they can be leveraged with other factors, and how our findings can help future work enhance and measure player agency, within interactive narrative and beyond.