Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, Volume 7, Number CHI PLAY
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Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, Volume 7, Number CHI PLAY, October 10–13, 2023, Stratford, Canada

PLAY – Journal Issue

Contents - Abstracts - Authors


Title Page

Editorial Message
We are excited to present PACM HCI’s 2023 issue on games and play research, which contains 52 exciting and highly relevant articles covering the entire spectrum of HCI games research

Research Papers

Suspecting Sarcasm: How League of Legends Players Dismiss Positive Communication in Toxic Environments
Susanne Poeller ORCID logo, Martin Johannes Dechant ORCID logo, Madison Klarkowski ORCID logo, and Regan L. Mandryk ORCID logo
(University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada; University College London, London, UK)
Toxicity in multiplayer gaming is an ongoing problem that threatens the well-being of players, gaming communities, and game developers. Meanwhile, interventions that promote positive interactions and proactively create positive gaming spaces are still in their infancy; little is known about how players respond to positivity. In our study, 959 League of Legends players were presented with either 10 positive chat logs or 10 negative chat logs, and asked to reflect on the content and how representative such communication is of their own gaming experiences. We thematically coded participants' free-form answers (identifying the themes normalize, acknowledge, downplay, cope, blame, and make personal), and compared the positive and negative conditions in terms of theme prevalence. Our findings show that participants were more likely to normalize and acknowledge toxic negativity than positivity. Furthermore, the dominant response to positivity consisted of downplaying messages as not representative and rare, and even expressing suspicion that messages must have been fabricated or intended as sarcasm. Participants overwhelmingly cope by muting chat, protecting them from toxic interactions, but leaving them unexposed to positive communication and other beneficial social interactions within play.

Publisher's Version Archive submitted (560 kB)
Work Hard, Scare Hard? An Investigation of How Mental Workload Impacts Jump Scare Intensity
Thomas Terkildsen ORCID logo, Lene Engelst ORCID logo, and Mathias Clasen ORCID logo
(Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)
Despite the prevalence and relevance of jump scares in horror video games, there is little empirical research on them. While HCI research commonly uses horror games as experimental stimuli, even less scientific research exists on what makes a jump scare in a game more or less scary. The present between-subject study (n=60) addresses this by investigating whether jump scare intensity—measured physiologically and subjectively—scales with task difficulty. We triggered in-game jump scares at increasing levels of mental workload across four counterbalanced conditions, manipulated using N-back tasks of varying difficulty. Results demonstrate a significant linear relationship between mental workload and physiological arousal. However, this is not the case for subjective perception of arousal elicited by the jump scare. These findings have design implications for horror games. They show that the level of physiological arousal caused by a jump scare can be controlled by changing the difficulty of an in-game task that necessitates a substantial amount of mental work at the same time.

Publisher's Version
Lessons from Homebrewed Hybridity: Designing Hybrid Digital Boardgames for Distanced Play
Lucy A. Sparrow ORCID logo and Melissa J. Rogerson ORCID logo
(University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
In 2020–2021, under the restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, boardgame players around the world sought out ways to play physical boardgames with each other despite being physically apart. Their creative appropriations of digital technologies and physical tools to allow for hybrid distanced play demonstrate not only the resilience of boardgaming as a hobby, but also provide important insights into the design of novel distanced hybrid digital boardgames (DHDBs). Through a survey of over 1300 respondents, this paper explores the ways distanced players engaged in homebrew practices to make physical boardgame play possible. Through reflexive thematic analysis, we identify three themes that reflect the practical issues players grappled with, including game choice, game mode or setup, and technical implementation. Reflecting on the challenges and opportunities associated with these issues, we consider their implications for DHDB design more generally. In doing so, we present the DHYE (Distanced Hybrid plaY Experience) framework, a practical set of design considerations that emphasises an understanding of distance not simply as an obstacle to enjoyable boardgame play but as an inspiration for novel and meaningful design.

Publisher's Version
A Matter of Perspective: Designing Immersive Character Transitions for Virtual Reality Games
Sebastian Cmentowski ORCID logo, Sukran Karaosmanoglu ORCID logo, Fabian Kievelitz ORCID logo, Frank Steinicke ORCID logo, and Jens Krüger ORCID logo
(University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany; Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Virtual reality (VR) games intensify storytelling experiences by letting players take the role of a character. However, in contrast to films, novels, or games, VR experiences often remain centered around one single character without using the potential of complex multiprotagonist plots. Our work engages in this critical topic by investigating the design of immersive and natural transitions between different characters. First, we conducted a scoping review to identify existing multiprotagonist VR games (N=18) and grouped their used transition techniques into four categories. Based on these findings and prior research, we designed two transition techniques (Static Map vs. Rebodying) and conducted a between-participants (N=36) study to explore their effect on user experience. Our results show that Rebodying outperforms Static Map regarding the perceived realism, acceptance, and spatial understanding of the character transitions. Both conditions do not differ significantly in terms of cybersickness. Finally, we provide future directions for developing, improving, and exploring of multiprotagonist transition techniques in VR games.

Publisher's Version Archive submitted (90 MB)
Counterplay: Circumventing the Belgian Ban on Loot Boxes by Adolescents
Maarten Denoo ORCID logo, Bruno Dupont ORCID logo, Eva Grosemans ORCID logo, Bieke Zaman ORCID logo, and Rozane De Cock ORCID logo
(KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
In 2018, Belgium made the world news for being the first country to ban loot boxes in games for all its inhabitants. As players’ freedom to purchase loot boxes was restricted, however, methods of circumventing the ban came into practice. Departing from counterplay theory, we drew from an online survey among Belgian adolescents aged 11 18 with two questions in mind: what counterplay practices are used to circumvent the Belgian ban on loot boxes, and how do counterplayers (N = 124) compare to non counterplayers (N = 329) in terms of their engagement with loot boxes and games more broadly? Our findings suggest that counterplayers resist current regulatory arrangements in a myriad of ways, delineating the boundaries of a national ban in a global game ecology. Counterplayers appeared to differentiate themselves from non counterplayers both in terms of depth characteristics (sense of belonging to an online community, perceived gaming ability, gaming disorder, and risky loot box use) and breadth characteristics (frequency of skin betting, selling loot box rewards, and (re)watching loot box opening livestreams). Ultimately, our study may tease out debate on how to regulate games successfully in the face of players’ technical abilities and motivation to gain access.

Publisher's Version
“An Adapt-or-Die Type of Situation”: Perception, Adoption, and Use of Text-to-Image-Generation AI by Game Industry Professionals
Veera Vimpari ORCID logo, Annakaisa Kultima ORCID logo, Perttu Hämäläinen ORCID logo, and Christian Guckelsberger ORCID logo
(Aalto University, Espoo, Finland; Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland; Queen Mary University of London, London, UK)
Text-to-image generation (TTIG) models, a recent addition to creative AI, can generate images based on a text description. These models have begun to rival the work of professional creatives, and sparked discussions on the future of creative work, loss of jobs, and copyright issues, amongst other important implications. To support the sustainable adoption of TTIG, we must provide rich, reliable and transparent insights into how professionals perceive, adopt and use TTIG. Crucially though, the public debate is shallow, narrow and lacking transparency, while academic work has focused on studying the use of TTIG in a general artist population, but not on the perceptions and attitudes of professionals in a specific industry. In this paper, we contribute a qualitative, exploratory interview study on TTIG in the Finnish videogame industry. Through a Template Analysis on semi-structured interviews with 14 game professionals, we reveal 12 overarching themes, structured into 39 sub-themes on professionals' perception, adoption and use of TTIG in games industry practice. Experiencing (yet another) change of roles and creative processes, our participants' reflections can inform discussions within the industry, be used by policymakers to inform urgently needed legislation, and support researchers in games, HCI and AI to support the sustainable, professional use of TTIG, and foster games as cultural artefacts.

Publisher's Version Archive submitted (3.2 MB)
Why Should Red and Green Never Be Seen? Exploring Color Blindness Simulations as Tools to Create Chromatically Accessible Games
Mateus Pinheiro ORCID logo, Windson Viana ORCID logo, and Ticianne de Gois Ribeiro Darin ORCID logo
(Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, Brazil)
Video games have become an important aspect of modern culture, especially with the widespread use of mobile devices. Thus, it is important that video games are accessible to all people, but colorblind players are still affected by the use of colors in game interfaces. Some challenges of developing chromatically accessible games are the limited availability of colorblind test subjects and the importance of identifying and considering accessibility threats even in the early stages of development. Thus, digital simulations emerge as possible tools to increase accessibility and awareness. In this paper, we conducted three empirical studies that seek to verify the relationship between the identification of color accessibility problems by people with typical color vision using simulations and people with color blindness, in the context of mobile games. Results indicate concrete uses in which color blindness simulations give advantages to developers with typical vision in identifying chromatic accessibility issues in their games. Additionally, we discuss different possibilities for incorporating simulation tools, accessibility guidelines, and colorblind user participation into a realistic game design life cycle. We also discuss how the incorporation of simulation tools could be beneficial to foment the discussion of accessibility in game design studios.

Publisher's Version
Small Latency Variations Do Not Affect Player Performance in First-Person Shooters
Andreas Schmid ORCID logo, David Halbhuber ORCID logo, Thomas Fischer ORCID logo, Raphael Wimmer ORCID logo, and Niels Henze ORCID logo
(University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany)
In interactive systems high latency affects user performance and experience. This is especially problematic in video games. A large number of studies on this topic investigated the effects of constant, high latency. However, in practice, latency is never constant but varies by up to 100 ms due to variations in processing time and delays added by polling between system components. In a large majority of studies, these variations in latency are neither controlled for nor reported. Thus, it is unclear to which degree small, continuous variations in latency affect user performance. If these unreported variations had a significant impact, this might cast into doubt the findings of some studies. To investigate how latency variation affects player performance and experience in games, we conducted an experiment with 28 participants playing a first-person shooter. Participants played with two levels of base latency (50 ms vs. 150 ms) and variation (0 ms vs. 50 ms). As expected, high base latency significantly reduces player performance and experience. However, we found strong evidence that small variations in latency in the order of 50 ms, do not affect player performance significantly. Thus, our findings mitigate concerns that previous latency studies might have systematically ignored a confounding effect.

Publisher's Version
‘I Just Wanted to Get It Over and Done With’: A Grounded Theory of Psychological Need Frustration in Video Games
Nick Ballou ORCID logo and Sebastian Deterding ORCID logo
(Queen Mary University of London, London, UK; Imperial College, London, UK)
Psychological need frustration—experiences like failure, loneliness, or coercion—is emerging as a promising explanation for why people disengage with games and other entertainment media, and how media may induce dysregulated use and ill-being. However, existing research on game-related need frustration relies on general instruments with unclear content validity for games. We also do not know how need frustration arises in video games, nor how it leads to disengagement. We therefore conducted a semi-structured interview study with 12 video game players, following grounded theory methods to develop a model of need-frustrating play. We find that need frustration is a common and impactful experience in games, with distinct antecedents not fully captured in existing measures. Felt need frustration arises when observed need-frustrating events negatively violate expected need frustration or satisfaction; repeated violations update players’ expectations, which lead them to modulate or quit play to reduce expected frustration exposure.

Publisher's Version
“Anything a Guardian Does Is Canonical”: Player Understanding of Canon in Destiny
Bjarke Alexander Larsen ORCID logo and Elin Carstensdottir ORCID logo
(University of California, Santa Cruz, USA)
The narrative experience of perennial games---ongoing, live games---revolves around the community that plays it. These games serve a fractured form of storytelling, which leaves it to the community to determine what counts as part of the story; or what is considered “canon”. What is canon is a question of who and what the story is allowed to be about, and what is allowed to be in it. Therefore, it is important to understand how players of perennial games understand what is canon and what is not. This paper presents a mixed methods study of an online survey (N=118) and interviews (N=15) of players of the game Destiny 2, with the goal of understanding what events players consider canon and why. The findings indicate that while authorship and conventional game story elements are considered canon, there is still disagreement, especially as the storytelling methods become non-conventional. Players can provide nuanced viewpoints on why an event is or is not canon, and they do not always agree. These results can help designers understand how their decisions influence the community discussions of canonicity, and how properties of their game can help create experiences that lets players see themselves in the work.

Publisher's Version
Investigating the Effects of Tailored Gamification on Learners’ Engagement over Time in a Learning Environment
Audrey Serna ORCID logo, Stuart Hallifax ORCID logo, and Élise Lavoué ORCID logo
(University of Lyon - INSA Lyon - CNRS - UCBL, Lyon, France; University of Lyon - University Jean Moulin Lyon 3 - IAE Lyon School of Management - CNRS - INSA Lyon, UCBL, Lyon, France)
Gamification has been widely used to increase learners’ motivation and engagement in digital learning environments. Various studies have highlighted the need to tailor gamification according to users’ characteristics. However, little is known about how tailoring gamification affects learners’ engagement when interacting with the environment. In this paper, we analyse learners’ behaviours in a large-scale field study in real-world classroom conditions over a six-week period. We identify three behavioural patterns and show at a global level that two of these patterns are influenced by adaptation. When we look at how learners’ engagement evolves over time, we see more differences in the adapted condition, specifically in the final lessons of the experiment. Globally learners’ engaged behaviours gradually decreased over time but tailoring the game elements to learners seemed to reduce this decrease or make it more stable, depending on the behavioural patterns.

Publisher's Version
BlueVR: Design and Evaluation of a Virtual Reality Serious Game for Promoting Understanding towards People with Color Vision Deficiency
Ruoxin You ORCID logo, Yihao Zhou ORCID logo, Weicheng Zheng ORCID logo, Yiran Zuo ORCID logo, Mayra Donaji Barrera Machuca ORCID logo, and Xin Tong ORCID logo
(University College London, London, UK; East China Normal University, Shanghai, China; Duke Kunshan University, Kunshan, China; Shanghai Yue Kong Pao Senior Secondary School, Shanghai, China; Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
People with color vision deficiency (CVD) often encounter color-related challenges in their daily life, which are difficult for those with non-CVD to comprehend fully. Therefore, we designed a Virtual Reality (VR) serious game, BlueVR, to simulate challenging scenarios encountered by people with CVD and facilitate understanding from people with non-CVD. We conducted an empirical study with thirty participants with non-CVD and six participants with CVD to evaluate the opportunities and challenges of BlueVR. Our findings suggest that BlueVR increased people with non-CVD’s understanding, awareness, and perspective-taking abilities towards people with CVD. Moreover, interviews with participants with CVD revealed that BlueVR accurately depicts their real-life discomforts and meets their expectations to improve potential social awareness. This research contributes valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying the effectiveness of VR serious games in promoting understanding and design implications for future game development.

Publisher's Version
The Relationship between Users’ Behavior and Their Flow Experience in Gamified Systems
Wilk Oliveira ORCID logo, Juho Hamari ORCID logo, and Seiji Isotani ORCID logo
(Tampere University, Tampere, Finland; Harvard University, Cambridge, USA)
Modeling users' experience in gameful systems is one of the main contemporary challenges in the field of human-computer interaction. One of the most desired and complex experiences to be identified is the flow experience (i.e., challenge-skill balance, action-awareness merging, clear goals, unambiguous feedback, concentration, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, transformation of time, and autotelic experience). Facing this challenge, we conducted a quantitative study (N = 313) based on structural equation modeling, aiming to model and predict the users' flow experience through their behavior (represented by performance-related, interaction with gamification, as well as the time they take in different actions) in the system. The main results indicate that i) gamification (i.e., doing well in points, badges, and leader-board) was positively related to users' experience of good challenge-skill balance, ii) whereas it was negatively related to users' concentration. Thirdly iii) user performance was positively related to users' concentration. However, overall, the results indicate that while associations between user behavior and flow experience could be established, there remains future work to be done to fully explain user flow experience while using a system. Our study contributes to the fields of human-computer interaction, gamification, and educational technologies, especially through insights related to modeling and predicting flow experiences in gameful systems through behavior data.

Publisher's Version
If at First You Don’t Succeed: Helping Players Make Progress in Games with Breaks and Checkpoints
Colby Johanson ORCID logo, Brandon Piller ORCID logo, Carl Gutwin ORCID logo, and Regan L. Mandryk ORCID logo
(University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)
Developing skill and overcoming in-game challenges is of great interest to both players and game designers. Players can improve through repetition, but sometimes practice does not lead to improvement and progress stalls. It would be useful if designers could help players make progress without compromising their long-term skill development. We carried out a study to investigate how two techniques—checkpoints and breaks—affect in-game progress and player skill. Checkpoints allow multiple attempts at a challenge without having to repeat earlier sections; this aids progress, but could potentially hinder skill development. Second, breaks in gameplay have been shown to accelerate skill development, but their effectiveness is unknown when the breaks are integrated into the game's design. Our study evaluated the effects of game-integrated breaks and checkpoints on players' in-game progress (when the techniques were present) as well as two test sessions (with all techniques removed). Our results showed that both checkpoints and breaks aid progress (combining both had the largest effect) and that neither technique reduced performance in the transfer task, suggesting that skill development was not hindered. Our work provides evidence that checkpoints and breaks are valuable techniques that can assist both player progress and skill.

Publisher's Version
Analyzing Trans (Mis)Representation in Video Games to Remediate Gender Dysphoria Triggers
Shano Liang ORCID logo, Michelle V. Cormier ORCID logo, Phoebe O. Toups Dugas ORCID logo, and Rose Bohrer ORCID logo
(Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, USA; Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Many trans people experience gender dysphoria -- distress caused by mismatches in internal and external experiences of gender. Video games engage intimately with the self, creating intense experiences involving identities, bodies, and social interaction. This combination of factors renders trans players vulnerable to gender dysphoria triggers: failures of interaction design that result in gender dysphoria. The present research undertakes a thematic analysis of four popular games, drawn from an initial corpus of 31. It contributes a definition of gender dysphoria triggers, case studies of triggering games, an initial gender dysphoria categorization to provide a useful design language, and examples of alternative designs for extant triggers. The analysis combines the authors' positionality as trans gamers; critical cultural studies methodologies, including textual analysis; a critical discourse analysis of production-side statements and interviews and player-side comments about diversity in those games; and close readings of the games themselves. The paper concludes with a call for trans inclusivity in game design, which we structure around the necropolitical concept of the relation of care.

Publisher's Version
A Scoping Review of Heuristics in Videos Games Research: Definitions, Development, Application, and Operationalisation
Anne Ozdowska ORCID logo, Penny Sweetser ORCID logo, and Mahsuum Daiiani ORCID logo
(Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; Australian National University, Belconnen, Australia)
Heuristics present a cheap and effective way of evaluating usability. However, in video games, evaluating unique player experiences that are dependent on individual preferences and abilities presents a challenge that goes beyond usability. Video games are more than just functional software, so games heuristics have been adapted to help examine functionality and experience. This paper reports on how papers published in the ACM Digital Library between 2012 and 2022 develop and apply heuristics in video games research. We found that heuristics are often used outside their intended purpose of being used in an expert evaluation. Instead, they are used as survey instruments, interview guides, codes for thematic analysis, and as design guidelines. This research contributes to HCI and video games research by distinguishing the terms design guidelines and design principles from heuristics. We make recommendations for researchers around developing heuristics and conducting video game heuristic evaluations. We propose a method for operationalising heuristics and make recommendations for the implementation of heuristics to improve the quality of video game heuristic reviews.

Publisher's Version
Informing Children about Privacy: A Review and Assessment of Age-Appropriate Information Designs in Kids-Oriented F2P Video Games
Martin Sas ORCID logo, Maarten Denoo ORCID logo, and Jan Tobias Mühlberg ORCID logo
(KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Université Libre de Bruxelles, Bruxelles, Belgium)
With the rise of free-to-play (F2P) games, the profitability of video-gaming apps critically depends on the ability of developers to acquire, retain, and monetize large numbers of players. In this context, most game designers have no viable alternative than massively collecting players' personal data and monitoring their behavior to target them with personalized advertising and in-game purchases. Given the risks associated with such data practices, players, in particular children, need to be aware that a video game might compromise their privacy. Game designers should therefore ensure that players receive appropriate information about the data practices associated with their games. This might, however, be challenging, especially when the game is directed at children, given the complexity of privacy information and the limited literacy capacities of children and their parents. To answer game designers' need for comprehensive guidance regarding the communication of privacy information to children, we provide a survey of the age-appropriate information design strategies which been recommended by data protection authorities, children protection organizations and the relevant scientific literature. On this occasion, we also refer to illustrative examples of designs which can be considered good practices. Finally, by using an "evaluation matrix", we reviewed and assessed the implementation of those design strategies in nine F2P mobile games committed to following Google Play's Families Policies. Our findings show that, despite being child-oriented, the reviewed games largely fail at communicating privacy information in an age-appropriate way.

Publisher's Version Info
Prospective Passion and Social Capital within DotA 2 Players
Daniel Johnson ORCID logo, Julian Frommel ORCID logo, Winnifred Louis ORCID logo, Matthew David Lee ORCID logo, Porntida Tanjitpiyanond ORCID logo, and Regan L. Mandryk ORCID logo
(QUT, Brisbane, Australia; Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands; University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA; University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada; University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)
The Dualistic Model of Passion (obsessive and harmonious passion) can explain motivations for videogame play along with associated outcomes, such as the development of social capital; however, existing research exploring passion and social capital in videogaming has been cross-sectional. In the current study we surveyed players of DotA 2 at three time points, over six months (T1 n=462, T2 n=182, T3 n=115), to explore the stability of passion for DotA 2 over time and how such passion may lead to the development or erosion of social capital. Our key findings include that passion for playing DotA 2 is relatively stable over time and that harmonious passion predicts future bridging social capital, while obsessive passion predicts future bonding social capital. Importantly, our findings suggest the absence of a "slippery slope" scenario in which players who have a healthy pattern of engagement development obsessive passion or problematic play. Equally, however, our findings also suggest that those who are obsessive are unlikely to naturally trend towards a more harmonious style of engagement over time. We consider the implications of our findings for health practitioners, players and videogame developers and identify the differences between our longitudinal findings and the existing cross-sectional research.

Publisher's Version
Growing Up with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Games: Case Study on the Accessible Gameplay Experiences of the Young Players with CP and Their Families through the Lens of Developmental Task Perspective
Karam Eum ORCID logo, Seyeon Lee ORCID logo, Minjae Jo ORCID logo, and Young Yim Doh ORCID logo
(KAIST, Daejeon, South Korea; Samsung Electronics, Seoul, South Korea)
Understanding the experiences of players with disabilities is a key research issue in game accessibility. However, less is known about the values that young players experience from games, particularly in relation to their situational context as adolescents and young adults with disabilities. We explore how the values of accessible gaming are created in players’ lives by analyzing interviews with five players with cerebral palsy (CP) (age range 13–25 years) and their parents through the lens of developmental tasks theory. Using thematic analysis, we discovered three themes that illustrated how video games’ roles changed according to their life stages: “Establishing Healthy Self in Family”, “Navigating Peer Culture”, and “Preparing Adult Life”. Our results indicated that young players with CP made active decisions in their life and developed supportive relationships from playing accessible games. The changes in their desired developmental task and social contexts influenced the values they found in games. We discuss video games as a sociocultural resource that assists young players with CP to attain the developmental tasks they desire and achieve social inclusion. We conclude with design insights for creating more inclusive gameplay experiences for young players with CP.

Publisher's Version
From Traditional to Game-Based Learning of Climate Change: A Media Comparison Experiment
Daniel Fernández Galeote ORCID logo, Nikoletta-Zampeta Legaki ORCID logo, and Juho Hamari ORCID logo
(Tampere University, Tampere, Finland)
Widespread climate change engagement is needed to confront our current environmental crises, but it remains difficult to attain. Methods such as visualizations and experiential learning activities, including games and gamification, have been proposed to engage citizens beyond what generic and one-way information sharing can, but rigorous studies comparing the effects of game-based learning with traditional methods are rare. Therefore, this study investigates the effects of a serious game vs. control on learning outcomes related to climate change concepts. We conducted an experiment involving N=105 participants randomly assigned to two treatment groups (a desktop screen-based video game and an immersive VR version of the same game) and a control (a text with charts) and investigated the differences between pre- and post-intervention measures of knowledge. The results show that all three conditions had a large effect on learning, but there were no significant improvement differences between groups. Therefore, video games, either on desktop or virtual reality, may be as effective as more traditional instructional materials. Based on detailed observations of the questionnaire data, we also provide game design recommendations. Future studies could focus on specific features of learning and cognitive engagement and expand this experimental design to affect and behavior.

Publisher's Version Published Artifact Artifacts Available
A Quest?!: The Secret Life of Gameworld Punctuation
Nicolas LaLone ORCID logo, Phoebe O. Toups Dugas ORCID logo, and Michelle V. Cormier ORCID logo
(Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, USA; Monash University, Clayton, Australia)
At times, the interfaces of videogames -- gameworlds -- contain tiny details that go unnoticed. One such detail is how designers employ ! and ? to communicate to players. These punctuation marks have existed in videogames since their creation, yet remain undiscussed by designers. They are used as ways to promote curiosity, as objects, as ways to symbolize excitement, and as a prompt to react. Their varied history is deserving of attention, so we present a chronicle of two pieces of gameworld punctuation: ! and ?. We discuss current and past uses and identify more ways that these could be used in the future. These symbols may present a useful space of inquiry not only for games and games research, but more generally, in terms of the rapid communication of complex information.

Publisher's Version
Playing with Emotions: A Systematic Review Examining Emotions and Emotion Regulation in Esports Performance
Nicole A. Beres ORCID logo, Madison Klarkowski ORCID logo, and Regan L. Mandryk ORCID logo
(University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada)
The massive growth of esports has vitalized the need to study human performance in competitive video gaming. The pressure of competitive play elicits a range of emotional experiences, which can affect players during and beyond a gaming session. In this work, we review the state of the literature concerning the role emotions play in esports performance as well as highlight coping strategies players use to regulate emotions during competitive play. We review the findings of N=32 peer-reviewed articles pertaining to emotions and esports, finding that the emotional experiences elicited by competitive play affect esports performance. In response, players attempt to regulate their emotions to maintain performance; however, efforts to do so vary, as they currently lack effective coping strategies. Lastly, we review the potential of technical interventions in esports training for improving emotion regulation among players. Our findings support knowledge development in esports, and present avenues towards promoting the emotional wellbeing of competitive gamers.

Publisher's Version
ExpanStick: Augmenting Gamepad Thumbstick using Force at the Limit
Youngbo Aram Shim ORCID logo, Sangyoon Lee ORCID logo, HyeonBeom Yi ORCID logo, and Geehyuk Lee ORCID logo
(KAIST, Daejeon, South Korea)
We present ExpanStick, a novel thumbstick that augments video game interaction using the force that the user applies at the physical limit of the gamepad. Gamers frequently manipulate a thumbstick leaning on the limit, or physical boundary around it, either to apply maximum input or to secure physical support, which makes the contact force an easily accessible input channel. The ExpanStick preserves the form factor and usability of the thumbstick, while expanding its input space. We built the ExpanStick and inserted it in a commercial gamepad as a proof-of-concept prototype. Using the prototype, we conducted a design workshop with console gamers to design the ExpanStick game interaction. Through demonstration of the interactions, we found the early use experience with the ExpanStick is positive and well accepted by the game players.

Publisher's Version
The Cycle of Toxicity: Exploring Relationships between Personality and Player Roles in Toxic Behavior in Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Games
Bastian Kordyaka ORCID logo, Samuli Laato ORCID logo, Katharina Jahn ORCID logo, Juho Hamari ORCID logo, and Bjoern Niehaves ORCID logo
(University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany; Tampere University, Tampere, Finland; Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany)
Toxic behavior remains a salient challenge for online gaming environments, such as multiplayer online battle arena video games (MOBAs). In this study, we sought to understand player roles and settings in which toxicity occurs using a mixed-methods approach. First, we conducted ethnographic observations and interviews with players of the most popular contemporary MOBA, League of Legends (Study 1). During the qualitative analysis three main themes emerged: (1) the fluidity of roles, (2) the subjectivity of the toxic experience, and (3) cascading effects and changing modalities of toxicity. Based on the themes, we formulated hypotheses regarding players’ experience with toxicity. To test these hypotheses, we gathered cross-sectional data from MOBA players (n = 216), which we analyzed with co-variance-based statistics (Study 2). Our quantitative findings showcase the complexity of toxicity as well as players’ ambivalence toward the topic. We found indicators of substantial influences of personality and a cycle of retaliation toxicity spread as victims retaliated against the perpetrator.

Publisher's Version
How Location-Based Games Incentivize Moving About: A Study in the Context of Nature-Going
Samuli Laato ORCID logo, Daniel Fernández Galeote ORCID logo, Ferran Altarriba Bertran ORCID logo, Konstantinos Papangelis ORCID logo, and Juho Hamari ORCID logo
(Tampere University, Tampere, Finland; Universitat de Girona, Spain; Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, USA)
Location-based multiplayer games such as Pokémon GO are tied to real-world locations. Past research has demonstrated that, consequently, these games influence where players move. In order to explore what dynamics in these games incentivize travel to specific places or areas, we engaged in interviews with active players. We discovered 11 unique game dynamics, which could be positioned under three overarching themes: (1) the playing field, as determined by the placement of points of interest, the players' habitat and their surroundings; (2) the player communities and real life relationships, which motivated and directed the playing; and (3) coincidental motivational support, which highlighted how location-based games offer multi-layered motivation for players to travel to, and engage with, specific real-world locations. Our study contributes to the fields of gamified human mobility and human-nature interaction by elucidating how playful technologies can influence where and when people move.

Publisher's Version
The Aesthetics of Disharmony: Harnessing Sounds and Images for Dynamic Soundscapes Generation
Mário Escarce Junior ORCID logo, Georgia Rossmann Martins ORCID logo, Leandro Soriano Marcolino ORCID logo, and Elisa Rubegni ORCID logo
(Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK; Phersu Interactive, Belo Horizonte, Brazil)
This work presents an autonomous approach that explores the dynamic generation of relaxing soundscapes for games and artistic installations. Differently from past works, this system can generate music and images simultaneously, preserving human intent and coherency. We present our algorithm for the generation of audiovisual instances and also a system based on this approach, verifying the quality of the outcomes it can produce in light of current approaches for the generation of images and music. We also instigate the discussion around the new paradigm in arts, where the creative process is delegated to autonomous systems, with limited human participation. Our user study (N=74) shows that our approach overcomes current deep learning models in terms of quality, being recognized as human production, as if the outcome were being generated out of an endless musical improvisation performance.

Publisher's Version
Towards Greater Inclusion and Accessibility for Physically Disabled Players in Location-Based Games
Maximillian Oliver Clark ORCID logo, Aneesha Singh ORCID logo, and Giulia Barbareschi ORCID logo
(University College London, London, UK; Keio University, Yokohama, Japan)
Most research on Location-Based Games (LBGs) has been conducted on non-disabled players, meaning the experiences of disabled players are not well understood and potentially overlooked. As such, this research aimed to address the following questions: 1). What are the barriers and needs of disabled LBGs players? 2). How can LBGs be made more inclusive and accessible? To address these questions, two studies were conducted in the form of an online qualitative questionnaire and a series of co-design workshops. Results articulate the needs, barriers, and desired features of 60 participants. Based on our findings and through the collaborative work with disabled players we articulate 4 guidelines for game designers and developers aimed at improving the accessibility of LBGs: 1) Adding avatar features that better represent disabled characteristics, 2). Providing different input options for phone interactions, 3) Allowing for disabled specific accounts and 4) Introducing a messenger feature to LBGs.

Publisher's Version
A Ruse by Any Other Name: Comparing Loot Boxes and Collectible Card Games Using Magic Arena
Topias Mattinen ORCID logo, Joseph Macey ORCID logo, and Juho Hamari ORCID logo
(Tampere University, Tampere, Finland; University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
The convergence of gaming and gambling, known as "gamblification", has been a topic of increasing interest in recent years. Loot boxes, i.e., rewards offering randomized content in exchange for money or time, have been a particular focal point. Research has shown links between excessive loot box consumption and problematic consumption behaviors, leading to several attempts to regulate loot boxes. Arguments against regulation have been that loot boxes are conceptually and structurally akin to other unregulated game formats, such as collectible card games. However, this discourse is often without deeper analysis of the mechanics of different products at the center of convergence. Therefore, to add to this knowledge, this article examines the similarities and differences between booster packs in Magic Arena, their physical counterparts in Magic: The Gathering, and loot boxes included in digital games. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which these booster packs compare to loot boxes in terms of consumption patterns, visual appearance, contextual factors, and regulation. Analysis reveals that digital booster packs in Magic Arena differ from both loot boxes and physical card packs, both due to their direct impact on gameplay, and their unique features afforded by the digital environment in which they exist.

Publisher's Version Video Info
From Points to Progression: A Scoping Review of Game Elements in Gamification Research with a Content Analysis of 280 Research Papers
Stuart Hallifax ORCID logo, Maximilian Altmeyer ORCID logo, Kristina Kölln ORCID logo, Maria Rauschenberger ORCID logo, and Lennart E. Nacke ORCID logo
(University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada; German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Saarbrücken, Germany; University of Applied Sciences Emden, Emden, Germany; University of Seville, Sevilla, Spain)
We lack a shared and detailed understanding in gamification of what game elements are. To address this, we provide a scoping review of the last five years of gamification research, focusing primarily on how game elements have been applied and characterized. We retrieved the definitions of game elements from 280 research papers, conducted a content analysis, and identified their features. On the basis of this information, we provide responses regarding the frequently cited game elements, whether they are consistently characterized in the literature, and the frequently stated features of these elements. Our research has identified 15 game elements in the literature, with points, badges, and leaderboards being the most prevalent. As a first step toward clear definitions, we suggest a set of properties to characterize these game elements. The results of our review contribute to the formation of a consensus among gamification scholars about the application and definition of game elements.

Publisher's Version
Fused Spectatorship: Designing Bodily Experiences Where Spectators Become Players
Rakesh Patibanda ORCID logo, Aryan Saini ORCID logo, Nathalie Overdevest ORCID logo, Maria F. Montoya ORCID logo, Xiang Li ORCID logo, Yuzheng Chen ORCID logo, Shreyas Nisal ORCID logo, Josh Andres ORCID logo, Jarrod Knibbe ORCID logo, Elise van den Hoven ORCID logo, and Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller ORCID logo
(Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Monash University, Clayton, Australia; University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China; Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia; Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Spectating digital games can be exciting. However, due to its vicarious nature, spectators often wish to engage in the gameplay beyond just watching and cheering. To blur the boundaries between spectators and players, we propose a novel approach called "Fused Spectatorship", where spectators watch their hands play games by loaning bodily control to a computational Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) system. To showcase this concept, we designed three games where spectators loan control over both their hands to the EMS system and watch them play these competitive and collaborative games. A study with 12 participants suggested that participants could not distinguish if they were watching their hands play, or if they were playing the games themselves. We used our results to articulate four spectator experience themes and four fused spectator types, the behaviours they elicited and offer one design consideration to support each of these behaviours. We also discuss the ethical design considerations of our approach to help game designers create future fused spectatorship experiences.

Publisher's Version
Creative Console: A Player-Driven Game Based on a Modular Fast-Evolving-and-Verifying Framework
Ke Fang ORCID logo, Jinsheng Jiang ORCID logo, Xing Sun ORCID logo, Yuqing Chen ORCID logo, Jiajia He ORCID logo, and Lei Huang ORCID logo
(Tsinghua University, Shenzhen, China)
We present Creative Console, a player-driven game in which a player, without prior knowledge of game programming, can design and realize a game within 15 minutes. Players design a game by selecting, adding, or changing a game component and then playtesting the game immediately. We refer to this central process as the Fast-Evolving-And-Verifying (FEAV) module. Players play successive FEAV modules, each taking around 3 minutes, and progressively complete a game design. We conducted an exploratory study of Creative Console. Within 48 hours, all 21 participants developed 527 game levels, covering 10 genres of games. The study demonstrates that Creative Console is enjoyable to play and effectively empowers creative and diversified game design. We furthermore conducted a grounded theory analysis of their design process. Our analysis concludes that modular FEAV, serendipity, and social communication are the three pillars of Creative Console, which casts light on future player-driven creative design systems.

Publisher's Version
“Conversations with pigeons”: Capturing Players’ Lived Experience of Perspective Challenging Games
Matthew Alexander Whitby ORCID logo, Ioanna Iacovides ORCID logo, and Sebastian Deterding ORCID logo
(University of York, York, UK; Imperial College, London, UK)
Video games are increasingly designed to provoke reflection and challenge players’ perspectives. Yet we know little about how such perspective-challenging experiences come about in gameplay. In response, we used systematic self-observation diaries and micro-phenomenological interviews to capture players’ (n=15) lived experience of perspective challenges in purposely sampled games including Hatoful Boyfriend, The Stanley Parable, or Papers, Please. We found a sequence of trigger, reflection, and transformation constituting perspective-challenging experiences, matching Mezirow’s model of transformative learning. Most of these were game-related or ‘endo-game’, suggesting that medium self-reflection could be an overlooked part of everyday game reflection and appreciation. Reflections were accompanied by a wide range of emotions, including frequent epistemic emotions, and emotions could change drastically even during short gameplay experiences. Actual perspective change or transformation was rare. We construct a model of granular types of triggers, reflections, and transformations that can aid reflective game design.

Publisher's Version
Using Everyday Objects as Props for Virtual Objects in First Person Augmented Reality Games: An Elicitation Study
Mac Greenslade ORCID logo, Adrian Clark ORCID logo, and Stephan Lukosch ORCID logo
(University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
In this paper, we present an elicitation study which explores how people use common household objects as props to control virtual objects in augmented reality first-person perspective games. 24 participants were asked to select items from a range of common household objects to use as controllers for three different types of virtual object: a sword, shield, and crossbow. Participants completed short gameplay tasks using their selected items and rated the AR experience using the Augmented Reality Immersion (ARI) questionnaire. Results found no strong consensus linking any specific household object to any virtual object across our test group and, in addition, those who chose the most commonly selected object for each task did not have significantly higher scores on the ARI questionnaire compared to those who did not. A short post-experiment interview indicated a few key factors that were important to participants when selecting their household object, such as shape, size, grip feel and weight distribution. Based on our findings we recommend that developers provide the ability for users to choose which household objects to use as props based on the user's own preferences, and that they design intuitive ways for users to interact with virtual objects.

Publisher's Version
Investigating Players’ Perceptions of Deceptive Design Practices within a 3D Gameplay Context
John King ORCID logo, Dan Fitton ORCID logo, and Brendan Cassidy ORCID logo
(University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)
Deceptive design practices have been identified and studied in games but, to date, there have been no substantial explorations of deceptive design practices within 3D environments typically found in PC games. These offer a new set of affordances for interacting with the player, and game developers may be able to utilize these in order to shape gameplay experiences. The goal of this work was to explore users’ perceptions of deceptive design present in a popular free-to-play 3D game. A survey was carried out with 259 adult respondents identifying and explaining instances of deceptive design within video clips of gameplay from a popular Roblox game. Thematic analysis of the responses revealed six new categories of deceptive design pattern within a 3D gameplay context: Predatory Monetization, Default to Purchase, UI Misdirection, Emotional Interpersonal Persuasion, Physical Placement, and Narrative Obligation. Through our work we hope to highlight the use of deceptive design both within current 3D games and future 3D gaming environments. This work is particularly important as 3D and VR gaming grow in popularity alongside game publishers increasingly moving towards “freemium” monetization models for income.

Publisher's Version
Auto-Paizo Games: Towards Understanding the Design of Games That Aim to Unify a Player’s Physical Body and the Virtual World
Rakesh Patibanda ORCID logo, Chris Hill ORCID logo, Aryan Saini ORCID logo, Xiang Li ORCID logo, Yuzheng Chen ORCID logo, Andrii Matviienko ORCID logo, Jarrod Knibbe ORCID logo, Elise van den Hoven ORCID logo, and Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller ORCID logo
(Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK; Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China; KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden; University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia; Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Most digital bodily games focus on the body as they use movement as input. However, they also draw the player’s focus away from the body as the output occurs on visual displays, creating a divide between the physical body and the virtual world. We propose a novel approach – the "Body as a Play Material" – where a player uses their body as both input and output to unify the physical body and the virtual world. To showcase this approach, we designed three games where a player uses one of their hands (input) to play against the other hand (output) by loaning control over its movements to an Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) system. We conducted a thematic analysis on the data obtained from a field study with 12 participants to articulate four player experience themes. We discuss our results about how participants appreciated the engagement with the variety of bodily movements for play and the ambiguity of using their body as a play material. Ultimately, our work aims to unify the physical body and the virtual world.

Publisher's Version
How Gamified Are Sustainable Food Apps? Applying the Gameful Design Heuristics to Evaluate Sustainable Food Apps
Diana Grüger ORCID logo, Julian Weiblen ORCID logo, Philip Weber ORCID logo, and Thomas Ludwig ORCID logo
(University of Siegen, Siegen, Germany; University of Hagen, Hagen, Germany)
A large number of mobile apps support the sustainable use of food. These apps often use playful elements to enhance the user experience and promote their long-term use. However, we know little about which conceptual aspects of gamification and which gamified elements are actually used in the context of sustainable food apps. Therefore, in this paper, we analyse 76 mobile apps from the Google Play Store found with the term ‘sustainable food’ of which we analyse 27 apps in detail using the Gameful Design Heuristics. Our analysis uncovers a low average heuristics score and an unbalanced usage of subheuristics and heuristic categories. Additionally, gamification is unevenly distributed among food themes and sustainability categories. This study’s results contribute to the research on commercial gamified apps related to sustainability and food. Thus, this paper contributes to gamification design by identifying design opportunities that serve as interesting starting points for future work.

Publisher's Version
Fluito: Towards Understanding the Design of Playful Water Experiences through an Extended Reality Floatation Tank System
Maria F. Montoya ORCID logo, YuYang Ji ORCID logo, Ryan Wee ORCID logo, Nathalie Overdevest ORCID logo, Rakesh Patibanda ORCID logo, Aryan Saini ORCID logo, Sarah Jane Pell ORCID logo, and Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller ORCID logo
(Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Monash University, Clayton, Australia)
Water's pleasant nature and associated health benefits have captivated the interest of HCI researchers. Prior WaterHCI work mainly focused on advancing instrumental applications, such as improving swimming performance, and less on designing systems that support interacting with technology in water in more playful contexts. In this regard, we propose floatation tanks as research vehicles to investigate the design of playful interactive water experiences. Employing somaesthetic design, we developed a playful extended reality floatation tank experience: "Fluito". We conducted a 13-participant study to understand how specific design features amplified participants' water experiences. We used a postphenomenological lens to articulate eight strategies useful for designers aiming to develop digital playful experiences in water, such as designing to call attention to the water and designing to encourage breathing and body awareness in water experiences. Ultimately, we hope that our work supports people to be playful and benefit from the many advantages of being in water.

Publisher's Version
My Heart Will Go On: Implicitly Increasing Social Connectedness by Visualizing Asynchronous Players’ Heartbeats in VR Games
Linda Hirsch ORCID logo, Florian Müller ORCID logo, Francesco Chiossi ORCID logo, Theodor Benga ORCID logo, and Andreas Martin Butz ORCID logo
(LMU Munich, Munich, Germany)
Social games benefit from social connectedness between players because it improves the gaming experience and increases enjoyment. In virtual reality (VR), various approaches, such as avatars, are developed for multi-player games to increase social connectedness. However, these approaches are lacking in single-player games. To increase social connectedness in such games, our work explores the visualization of physiological data from asynchronous players, i.e., electrocardiogram (ECG). We identified two visualization dimensions, the number of players, and the visualization style, after a design workshop with experts (N=4) and explored them in a single-user virtual escape room game. We spatially and temporally integrated the visualizations and compared two times two visualizations against a baseline condition without visualization in a within-subject lab study (N=34). All but one visualization significantly increased participants’ feelings of social connectedness. Heart icons triggered the strongest feeling of connectedness, understanding, and perceived support in playing the game.

Publisher's Version
Visualizing the Spatio-Temporal Evolution of Gameplay using Storyline Visualization: A Study with League of Legends
Günter Wallner ORCID logo, Letian Wang ORCID logo, and Claire Dormann ORCID logo
(JKU Linz, Linz, Austria)
Players increasingly adopt a data-driven approach to review and improve their gaming skills. In the wake of this, spatio-temporal visualizations gained popularity but remain challenging to design. Storyline visualizations are unique in the way they integrate time and location information into a single view to show how entity relationships develop over time. We adopt the storyline visualization technique to summarize gameplay for the purpose of post-play review. We demonstrate the method by applying it to League of Legends matches and evaluated it with 39 players of the game in a task-based online study using the triad framework for spatio-temporal queries by Peuquet. Results indicate that players responded positively to the approach and could, by and large, solve tasks well but that time-based tasks proved most challenging and least efficient to solve. Based on our findings, we reflect on possibilities for enhancing the design of storyline visualizations for game-related data analysis.

Publisher's Version Archive submitted (12 MB)
Let’s Play Together through Channels: Understanding the Practices and Experience of Danmaku Participation Game Players in China
PiaoHong Wang ORCID logo and Zhicong Lu ORCID logo
(City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Live streaming is becoming increasingly popular in recent years, as most channels prioritize the delivery of engaging content to their viewers. Among various live streaming channels, Danmaku participation game (DPG) has emerged in China as a mixture of live streaming and online gaming, offering an immersive gaming experience to players. Although prior research has explored audience participation games (APGs) in North America and Europe, it primarily focuses on discussing prototypes and lacks observation of players in natural settings. Little is known about how players perceive DPGs and their player experience. To fill the research gap, we observed a series of DPG channels and conducted an interview-based study to gain insights into the practices and experiences of DPG players. Our work reveals that DPGs can effectively synergize live streaming and online games, amplifying both player engagement and a profound sense of accomplishment to players.

Publisher's Version Video
Tiles to Move: Investigating Tile-Based Locomotion for Virtual Reality
Jana Franceska Funke ORCID logo, Anja Schikorr ORCID logo, Sukran Karaosmanoglu ORCID logo, Teresa Hirzle ORCID logo, Frank Steinicke ORCID logo, and Enrico Rukzio ORCID logo
(Ulm University, Ulm, Germany; Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany; University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany)
Tile-based locomotion (TBL) is a popular locomotion technique for computer, console, and board games. However, despite its simplicity and unconventional movement, the transfer of TBL to virtual reality (VR) as a game platform remains unexplored. To fill this gap, we introduce TBL for VR on the example of two techniques: a controller and a feet-based one. In a first user study, we evaluated the usability and acceptance of the techniques compared to teleportation and touchpad locomotion. In a second exploratory user study, we evaluated the user experience of both TBL techniques in a maze and a museum scenario. The findings show that both techniques provide enjoyment and acceptable usability by creating either a relaxing (controller-based) or a physically active (feet-based) solution. Finally, our results highlight that TBL techniques work particularly well for small, constrained spaces that allow users to focus on exploring details in the nearby environment (important for games) in contrast to large open spaces that require faster locomotion, like teleportation.

Publisher's Version Archive submitted (230 MB)
Understanding Player’s Gesture-Based Communicative Behavior in MOBA Games
Keyang Zheng ORCID logo and Rosta Farzan ORCID logo
(University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USA)
Prior research has shown that gesture-based communication plays an integral role in online multiplayer games, especially for teams consisting of strangers with no prior common experiences. What motivates a particular form of in-game communication and its impact, especially promptly after a communication attempt, on team performance is less explored. In this paper, we present a framework for studying individual communication attempts using a gestured-based tool, "Ping", in a popular MOBA game, Heroes of the Storm. We design a framework to capture the game's situational context prior to the communication, the communication attempt, and its immediate impact. Using this framework, we analyze and identify game factors that influence players' decisions to communicate and their choice of communication. We also present how communication has an immediate positive effect on the team's performance. Our findings further the discussion of studying communication behaviors for virtual teams engaging in synchronous, collaborative work with shared visual spaces.

Publisher's Version
The Effect of Gamification Mechanics on User Experiences of AdventureLEARN: A Self-Driven Learning Platform
Chek Tien Tan ORCID logo, Oran Zane Devilly ORCID logo, Sok Mui Lim ORCID logo, Bavani Divo ORCID logo, Xiao-Feng Kenan Kok ORCID logo, Jamil Jasin ORCID logo, Ker Boon Seaw ORCID logo, and Lin Aung Htein ORCID logo
(Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore, Singapore)
Structured curriculum in domain-specific knowledge and personal development of graduate attributes are both important components of tertiary education. Prior gamification research in tertiary education has mostly evaluated gamification as a system and largely in structured curriculum-based learning environments. There is insufficient understanding as to how different gamification mechanics affect learning experiences in self-driven personal development areas outside of the structured curriculum. We present a study with 20 tertiary students over seven days with AdventureLEARN, a gamified online platform to engage students in a self-driven journey of continuous personal development alongside their curriculum work. Through an analysis of data collected from experience sampling and focus group discussions, we found that, amongst other findings, gamification mechanics that were meticulously contextualized to specific platform features afforded the most positive experiences across various dimensions, leading to our main insight highlighting the importance of maintaining a co-development process between individual gamification mechanics and platform features.

Publisher's Version
Emotional Virtual Characters for Improving Motivation and Performance in VR Exergames
Linda Graf ORCID logo, Sophie Abramowski ORCID logo, Felix Born ORCID logo, and Maic Masuch ORCID logo
(University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany)
Motivation and high effort in exergames are still open to optimization. In reality, coaches can stimulate athletes' engagement by infecting them with their emotions. However, whether these emotion-influencing effects also occur with virtual coaches remains unclear. In the present study, we measured the emotional state, motivation, and performance (punch speed) of 47 participants playing a VR exergame with an emotional (happy/angry) or neutral virtual coach. Results show that the happy and angry coach significantly affected the players' emotions. Furthermore, interacting with the emotional coaches leads to higher motivation, whereas the angry coach causes a reduction of feeling related. Also, we found a significant positive correlation between the increase in anger and punch speed. Our results show that adding an emotional component to virtual coaches into exergames is promising for increasing motivation and performance. This study highlights the positive effects of emotional virtual characters for improving VR exergames and, therefore, players' health.

Publisher's Version
Privacy Is the Price: Player Views and Technical Evaluation of Data Practices in Online Games
Amel Bourdoucen ORCID logo, Leysan Nurgalieva ORCID logo, and Janne Lindqvist ORCID logo
(Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Online games engage players in sharing their personal data with the games themselves and other players, which can pose security, privacy, and integrity risks to players. This paper presents an analysis of data practices in 21 online games and a qualitative interview study (N=20) that explores players' views on sharing their data in online games. Our results show that players' willingness to share personal information is contextual and related to game settings and game design elements. Our findings also highlight players' misconceptions and concerns surrounding data collection in games, and approaches to mitigate these concerns. Finally, this work identifies questionable design practices with online games and suggests design implications that will increase transparency and player control over data sharing.

Publisher's Version
Objective Difficulty-Skill Balance Impacts Perceived Balance but Not Behaviour: A Test of Flow and Self-Determination Theory Predictions
Sebastian Deterding ORCID logo and Joe Cutting ORCID logo
(Imperial College, London, UK; University of York, York, UK)
Flow and self-determination theory predict that game difficulty in balance with player skill maximises enjoyment and engagement, mediated by attentive absorption or competence. Yet recent evidence and methodological concerns are challenging this view, and key theoretical predictions have remained untested, importantly which objective difficulty-skill ratio is perceived as most balanced. To test these, we ran a preregistered study (n=309) using a Go-like 2-player game with an AI opponent, randomly assigning players to one of three objective difficulty-skill ratios (AI plays to win, draw, or lose) over five matches. The AI successfully manipulated objective balance, with the draw condition perceived as most balanced. However, balance did not impact play behaviour, nor did we find the predicted uniform 'inverted-U' between balance and positive play experiences. Importantly, we found both theories too underspecified to severely test. We conclude that balance and competence likely matter less for behavioural engagement than commonly held. We propose alternative factors such as player appraisals, novelty, and progress, and debate the value and challenges of theory-testing work in games HCI.

Publisher's Version Info
The Effects of Hand Representation on Experience and Performance for 3D Interactions in Virtual Reality Games
Nicholas Balcomb ORCID logo, Max V. Birk ORCID logo, and Scott Bateman ORCID logo
(University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada; Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands)
In Virtual Reality (VR), natural 3D interactions are performed with hand representations - the visualizations and interactors used for manipulating objects. Hand representations in VR games range from abstract shapes, to graphical versions of input controllers, to realistic human-like hands. Hand representations have been shown to have an important effect on play experience and performance. However, previous work has only considered them for individual 3D interactions or an entire game, giving designers little information about how a representation might perform and be experienced across different 3D interactions (like picking up and rotating objects, or opening a container). In this work, we compare three hand representations across 12 different 3D interactions and in a longer game experience in a study of 45 participants. We find that while representation did not affect performance, representations were overall experienced differently across 3D interactions. Our work provides a deeper understanding for VR game designers about how hand representations can be used to shape play experiences.

Publisher's Version
Method of Electrical Muscle Stimulation for Training FPS Game Players in the Timing of Shots
Shuo Zhou ORCID logo and Norihisa Segawa ORCID logo
(Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto, Japan)
In first-person shooter (FPS) games, players often need to calculate the timing of their shots for moving targets in advance based on the speed and relative position of those targets. For most players, the accurate timing of shots requires extended gaming experience and training. Unlike professional players, hobby players have less time to compete and train, do not receive professional game guidance, and cannot afford expensive gaming devices. According to previous studies, wearable devices with electrical stimulation can effectively control the muscles with rapid reactions. Here, we provide a method for training the timing of gaming shooters using electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). We believe that training with EMS is feasible and effective, allowing players to quickly learn and improve their gaming experience. To test the feasibility and effectiveness of our approach, we first tested the player's reaction time when using the EMS device to ensure that it did not have a negative impact on the player. Participants were then trained in a custom FPS game with three methods: EMS, non-EMS and EMS-only. The results showed a more significant increase in the average hit rate of EMS-trained participants compared to those trained using the other two methods. Thus, our study shows the possibility of using EMS devices as a training medium for a custom FPS game.

Publisher's Version
The Consistency of Gamification User Types: A Study on the Change of Preferences over Time
Ana Cláudia Guimarães Santos ORCID logo, Wilk Oliveira ORCID logo, Juho Hamari ORCID logo, Sivaldo Joaquim ORCID logo, and Seiji Isotani ORCID logo
(University of São Paulo, São Carlos, Brazil; Tampere University, Tampere, Finland; Federal University of Alagoas, Maceió, Brazil; Harvard University, Cambridge, USA)
In recent decades, several studies have suggested and validated user models (e.g., Bartle, and Hexad) to represent different user profiles in games and gamified environments. However, when applying these user models in practice (e.g., to personalize gamification), several studies reported contradictory outcomes. Recently, some studies outlined that one of the possible explanations for these contradictory findings is that people can present changes in their user profiles over time. In this study (N = 118), we present an analysis of the consistency of gamification user orientations after six months of the initial identification, by analyzing the association between user orientations in the first and second data collection. Overall, our results corroborate prior research demonstrating that user orientations can not be considered stable over time and also that the strongest tendency of the users might not be sufficient to determine how users change. Furthermore, we were able to identify that some user orientations can be more stable than others and model some relationships between their profiles after six months. Based on the results, we indicate a research agenda that can further the knowledge about the topic, as well as indicate a set of suggestions on how to model user profiles based on our results.

Publisher's Version
“I Feel My Abs”: Exploring Non-standing VR Locomotion
Reetu Kontio ORCID logo, Markus Laattala ORCID logo, Robin Welsch ORCID logo, and Perttu Hämäläinen ORCID logo
(Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Virtual Reality (VR) games and experiences predominantly have the users interact while standing or seated. However, this only represents a fraction of the full diversity of human movement. In this paper, we explore a novel non-standing approach to VR locomotion where the user performs locomotion movements in the air or only slightly touching the ground with their feet. For instance, the user may lie supine on the ground, reminiscent of the Bicycle Crunch, a core training movement common in Pilates and other forms of bodyweight exercise. Although this cannot generally replace traditional VR locomotion, it provides two benefits that we believe can be of use for specific application domains such as VR exergames: First, the user's lower body movement is not impeded by a small real-life space, allowing versatile navigation of large virtual worlds using walking, running, strafing, and jumping. Second, we allow new ways to activate parts of the body that remain passive in most existing VR interactions. We describe and discuss four different variants of the approach, and investigate two prototypes further in a qualitative user study, to better understand their strengths, weaknesses, and application potential.

Publisher's Version
The Effects of Latency and In-Game Perspective on Player Performance and Game Experience
David Halbhuber ORCID logo, Philipp Schauhuber ORCID logo, Valentin Schwind ORCID logo, and Niels Henze ORCID logo
(University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany; Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Frankfurt, Germany)
Previous work shows that high latency, a prolonged delay between player in- and system output, negatively affects player experience and performance. However, previous work also comes to contrary conclusions about how the in-game perspective alters the latency sensitivity of video games. Currently, it is unclear if the in-game perspective independently modulates latency's effects. To investigate how a game's in-game perspective interacts with latency, we developed a shooting game incorporating three perspectives (First-Person-, Third-Person-, and Bird's-Eye-View). In a study, participants (N = 36) played with two levels of latency (low and high) and the three perspectives. We show that latency reduces performance and experience, independent of the perspective. Moreover, Bayesian analysis suggests that the in-game perspective does not interact with latency and does not affects performance or experience. We conclude that more robust means to categorize latency sensitivity of video games than the in-game perspective are required.

Publisher's Version
“I’m the leader and I’m going to save the world”: Characterizing Empowering and Disempowering Game Experiences
Jan B. Vornhagen ORCID logo, Dan Bennett ORCID logo, Dooley Murphy ORCID logo, and Elisa D. Mekler ORCID logo
(IT University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; Laerdal Medical, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Empowering people through technology is a core concern of HCI, yet little is known about how players experience empowerment or disempowerment through videogames. We surveyed 250 participants about their dis-/empowering videogame experiences, investigating why they felt dis-/empowered, and how these experiences related to core player experience constructs including emotion and basic needs satisfaction. While empowering experiences were often positive, and disempowering experiences often negative, we found meaningful exceptions to this, and a surprising complexity in player accounts. We capture this diversity in seven themes. These range from ”heroic victories” which follow long periods of failure, to positive experiences of disempowerment, which were appreciated for their narrative meaning. By articulating these complex experiences, and relating them to quantitative measures we provide a foundation for understanding of the role of dis-/empowerment in player experience, and highlight avenues for future work. Data and analyses are available at

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