Researchers reference realism in digital games without sufficient specificity. Without clarity about the dimensions of realism, we cannot assess how and when to aim for a higher degree of realism, when lower realism suffices, or when purposeful unrealism is ideal for a game and can benefit player experience (PX). To address this conceptual gap, we conducted a systematic review using thematic synthesis to distinguish between types of realism currently found in the digital games literature. We contribute qualitative themes that showcase contradictory design goals of realism/unrealism. From these themes, we created a framework (i.e., a hierarchical taxonomy and mapping) of realism dimensions in digital games as a conceptual foundation. Our themes and framework enable a workable specificity for designing or analyzing types of realism, equip future work to explore effects of specific realism types on PX, and offer a starting point for similar efforts in non-game applications.
Visual effects and elements in video games and interactive virtual environments can be applied to transfer (or delegate) non-visual perceptions (e.g., proprioception, presence, pain) to players and users, thus increasing perceptual diversity via the visual modality. Such elements or effects are referred to as visual delegates (VDs). Current findings on the experiences that VDs can elicit relate to specific VDs, not to VDs in general. Deductive and comprehensive VD evaluation frameworks are lacking. We analyzed VDs in video games to generalize VDs in terms of their visual properties. We conducted a systematic paper analysis to explore player and user experiences observed in association with specific VDs in user studies. We conducted semi-structured interviews with expert players to determine their preferences and the impact of VD properties. The resulting VD framework (VD-frame) contributes to a more strategic approach to identifying the impact of VDs on player and user experiences.
Board gaming is a popular hobby that increasingly features the inclusion of technology, yet little research has sought to understand how board game player experience is impacted by digital augmentation or to inform the design of new technology-enhanced games. We present a mixed-methods study exploring how the presence of music and sound effects impacts the player experience of a board game. We found that the soundtrack increased the enjoyment and tension experienced by players during game play. We also found that a soundtrack provided atmosphere surrounding the gaming experience, though players did not necessarily experience this as enhancing the world-building capabilities of the game. We discuss how our findings can inform the design of new games and soundtracks as well as future research into board game player experience.
Sound effects (SFX) complement the visual feedback provided by gamification elements in gamified systems. However, the impact of SFX has not been systematically studied. To bridge this gap, we investigate the effects of SFX - supplementing points (as a gamification element) - on task performance and user experience in a gamified image classification task. We created 18 SFX, studied their impact on perceived valence and arousal (N=49) and selected four suitable SFX to be used in a between-participants user study (N=317). Our findings show that neither task performance, affect, immersion, nor enjoyment were significantly affected by the sounds. Only the pressure/tension factor differed significantly, indicating that low valence sounds should be avoided to accompany point rewards. Overall, our results suggest that SFX seem to have less impact than expected in gamified systems. Hence, using SFX in gamification should be a more informed choice and should receive more attention in gamification research.