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Measuring Engagement In Games

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the fun-is-in-the-eye-of-the-befragger dept.

Biotech 72

Gamasutra is running an article written by Tim Hong of EmSense in which he describes the research his company did into the physiological reactions various games engender in players. In addition to outward cues like breathing and movement, EmSense also scans brainwaves and heart activity to provide a more complete picture of how a gamer is responding to what he sees and does. They collected hundreds of hours worth of data and made comparisons among a variety of shooters, such as Gears of War 2, F.E.A.R, and Half-Life 2. They found some interesting information on how pacing, tutorials, and cutscenes can affect a player's level of engagement with the games.

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First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25972673)

Woo, first first post!

Re:First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25972925)

Reply here to waste peoples mod points

Re:First Post (0, Offtopic)

stonedcat (80201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973075)

Only the cool kids get mod points.

Wasting mod points? Sounds good to me (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25973173)

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It also features the packaging manager ape-ghetto, and the challenging Linux manual pages have been reformatted into the new 'monkey' format, so for example the manual for the shutdown command can be accessed just by typing: 'monkey shut-up -h now mothafukka' instead of 'man shutdown'.

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Re:Wasting mod points? Sounds good to me (1)

badkarmadayaccount (1346167) | more than 5 years ago | (#25991475)

Whoa! New troll! This I haven't seen in a long time. I wonder how long it'll take to mix up with the nigger owner's manual, Barack O'Bongo, and that tired old one with the public library and the shit eater. Interesting times are comming for those browsing at -1.

Just Shooters? (5, Insightful)

Arainach (906420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972725)

While this could no doubt lead to some more interesting shooter games (a welcome change since it's been a while since an FPS not made by Valve has really struck me as top-grade), I'd personally be more curious to see the difference in engagement across genres - FPS, RTS, RPG, etc. I know that I personally get much more engaged into RPGs.

Re:Just Shooters? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973109)

Engagement Test Results:

85% - Half Life 2
90.1% - Gears of War 2
90.2% - Halo 3
9% - Yet Another Pokemon
95% - Yet Another Mario
30% - Spore
45% - Spore Demo
85% - Spore for the iPhone
69% - Creepy Touch Game
6.9% - Atari Games:
Participant - Midway Games

Re:Just Shooters? (4, Funny)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974777)

Engagement Test Results:

85% - Half Life 2

Engagement test complete.
Congratulations, a party will be held in honor of your accomplishment. Please proceed to the end of the test chamber, lay face down on the floor, and await pickup.

Cake will be served.

Re:Just Shooters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25974949)

Please assume the party escort submission position!

spoiler (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25987167)

the cake is a lie !

Oblivion (1)

biscuitlover (1306893) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973133)

I'd agree with this - take Oblivion as an example; one of the most engaging games I've ever played. Although as it is first-person in nature, you could argue that the results from this test are just as relevant, even if it isn't a shooter per se.

Re:Oblivion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25973213)

Oblivion, engaging? I'm assuming you aren't much of an RPG gamer :P

Re:Oblivion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25975841)

I think you didn't understand what "engaging" meant within the context of the article. Oblivion is more of a pastime than a game, kind of like Civilization or Solitaire for example. You don't do much while playing, you just play, somewhat mechanically, for countless hours. There is no exciting moment, no intense thinking or difficult action, no big emotional sequences. I'm pretty sure the EEG of someone playing Oblivion would not show a lot of activity.

Re:Oblivion (1)

biscuitlover (1306893) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976343)

I'd have to disagree - while there are definitely 'down' periods in Oblivion where nothing much really happens, there are also plenty of intense/exciting moments - creeping around dark dungeons, dealing with things jumping out at you etc.

The article also gave particular mention to close combat in such games - something that Oblivion had a lot of, where it was regularly pretty frantic. I don't think it's any less relevant just because it's not necessarily the main focus of the game.

Re:Oblivion (1)

Sally Forth (1272800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26120365)

I wouldn't be surprised to find blood pressure easing with Oblivion. I bring up the game just when I need a bit of relaxation and wander through the woods. It's so immersive and, yes, engaging, that the beautiful scenery calms my senses and cheers me up.

Re:Just Shooters? (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973695)

Half-Life 2, Episode 2 was fantastic.

I wasn't too fond of Episode I, and I can't really stand Team Fortress 2, but Ep2 was one of the best games I've played, hands down.

Re:Just Shooters? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25973849)


The bit where Eli Vance dies is depressing though =/

(slashdot needs a [spoiler][/spoiler] tag)

Re:Just Shooters? (5, Insightful)

berwiki (989827) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974577)

The best FPS I have ever played was Quake 1.
Mainly because internet-play was relatively new to gamers, the customizeability of every aspect of that game, and oh yea, because I was a Teenager!

I'm not trying to rip on you, but I don't think I've played a 'fantastic' FPS since then. I'm sure the same could be said by this current generation, who play Gears of War for the first time.

The games are still good, but you've just gotten used to them. (because you are old). Unfortunately, very few movies, even highly acclaimed ones, stir up my emotions as well. You can only do the same thing so many times before it becomes boring.

Re:Just Shooters? (1)

Baton Rogue (1353707) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978033)

My favorite FPS games were the Operation Flashpoint games. They were not the typical WWII military type games, in fact they were completely fictional stories. They had an original story line, and characters you played. It was the most realistic FPS game I've ever played. You had to get to the target, complete the mission, and get out, and figure it out all by yourself. And unlike most FPS games where you can get shot 5 times, bandage, and be all better, you get shot once and you died. Or you would be shot in the leg and have to crawl everywhere to complete the mission, so you really had to take time and plan your tactics for the mission. When you run, you got tired and had to stop to catch your breath. You could drive Jeeps, tanks, fly helicopters and planes. A very cool game that I would recommend for anyone who likes a challenge in an FPS.

Re:Just Shooters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25978355)

Gears of war is actually quite good. I tried it and it gave me back some fond memories of Doom I... mostly uncomplicated fun and lots of killing (although the column level kinda spoils it). Why not wolfenstein instead of doom? I guess because its more or less the same game but with more eye candy.

Gears of war is more of a successor to doom i than doom iii

Re:Just Shooters? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 5 years ago | (#25986453)

My best souvenir with Quake1 is that it could be played virtually anywhere, even on the amber and black dumb text VT220 terminals we had at school that most of our school mates were not even considering to check their mail, so we were almost sure to have the entire room for our LAN play, even during lunch break, when all the PC and Sparc rooms were overcrowded.

And just adrenaline? (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976215)

They are measuring "emotional engagement", which, if correct, is still not a measure of "fun".

For instance, the reason engagement may have dropped for Halo 3's cinematic sequences, for me, is that combat up to that point had been intense enough that the cutscene was a chance to relax for a moment. So, less adrenaline, maybe even less emotion at the moment, but I'd still consider them to be some of the best cutscenes -- particularly the random Cortana moments.

Halo 2 even moreso -- I wonder what kind of reading they got from "Return to Sender".

Similarly, while it is nice to have a given boss exist only once, that doesn't necessarily mean that subsequent battles are not fun -- why else replay a game, for instance? Just because the novelty is gone doesn't mean the fun is.

It just goes to show that you cannot provide a single measure as to the quality of a game.

That said, ever since my first Gauntlet kill in Quake 3, I've always felt it extremely unsatisfying when a shooter doesn't provide some sort of meelee weapon. I love Nexuiz for what it is, but I would love it even more if, when I somehow managed to get in close behind someone, I could hit them with something more fun than shotgun alternate fire.

COD : Modern Warfare (4, Insightful)

nbharatvarma (784546) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972743)

One of the most engaging games I have played this year. I don't play too many games, but the single player campaign in modern warfare was extremely appealing to me. [I played COD 1 and then COD4 was the next COD game I played]


SPOILERS BEGIN...............
The initial mission where you need to escape a ship which is drowning and make a desperate attempt to jump into the helicopter, being assassinated at close range and unable to do anything about it, the nuclear explosion thing, crawling in a field with just a sniper rifle and tens of troupes walking around you and the way the climax plays out with Price throwing you a gun, having to take headshots before finally killing the main antagonist.. Call of Duty 4 impressed me so much that I don't even want to buy COD 5 just in case it ruins the experience I had with COD 4.
END OF SPOILERS .............

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (5, Interesting)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972821)

I thought this article was worth reading. I am currently taking a senior level applied psychology course in which we read over the case study for Robber's Cave. If you are not familiar with it, here is a general finding from the study.

*When individuals having no established relationships are brought together to interact in group activities with common goals, they produce a group structure with hierarchical statuses and roles within it.*

What does this system or type of learning sound like to you? It sounds like the tried and true money/work system which everyone I know is so fond of. LOL :)

I don't think the findings are that surprising. It seems to me that younger age groups should probably start out with low level engagement or reward type games and then build up to the higher end engagement levels. Games with violence are obviously not for younger age groups, which is why there are age limits to certain violent or mature games.

As an adult, you have your own fail safes and mechanisms built in to determine your level of engagement in the game. I am more interested in the article and the findings, but I can't really give a coherent opinion on first person shooter games. I don't play them.

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972879)

In COD, do you play on your own or is there a team of people you play with to accomplish your mission?

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972999)

You're in a team. And, overall, they respond pretty well and predictably. I also find that in CoD4 I 'felt' part of the team. In CoD5 I felt like my team was just there, not helping and I may as well have been on my own.

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25973037)

Reward games seem interesting, I was responding to the Michael Bolton thing someone posted about COD4, it was probably taken down, not to you Psychotria but I have to log out now, not much else to say for me. I liked the article.

Same series, different developers. CoD 4 CoD 5 (1)

Behrooz (302401) | more than 5 years ago | (#25983875)

Different development houses. Infinity Ward (CoD 1,2&4) has a substantially different feel than Treyarch (CoD 3 & 5)

Reviews tend to agree with my opinion that Infinity Ward just does it better. Can't wait till their turn in a year or so.

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973027)

It's actually good that you mention this. It was the same with Crysis. You are meant to be on a team, but the whole game played out as if I was on my own (which you are most of the time). It was not until I replayed Crysis and ignored my 'team' (and explored, and took a sniper approach) that I enjoyed it. First time around, with my team, I didn't like it as much.

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973503)

I really don't like squad-based games. The squad always gets in the way of my usual "Engage at maximum range for the longest-range weapon you have, then when they start to close disengage and circle round to come at them again at 60-120 degrees to the original angle of engagement with a mid-range meatgrinder weapon" tactic.
I mean if the squad could be given orders to "Stay hidden and hold fire till enemy enters kill zone A then cut rip" they might be helpful but as it is they usually end up getting too close for me to use any AOE weapons. That said at least Ashley in Resident Evil 4 was quite good at staying out of your line of fire...

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978065)

Falcon4 had some pretty decent squad commands. you could point them at a target, split your group in a 4 ship arrangement (two to cover, two for ground runs, then swap), and stuff like that. they didn't always listen, but they ususally did.

I like the entire HL franchise, but I wish in HL2 you could give commands to squads like "go attack this" or "wait till a shot is fired and then go" so you could do some tactics. Even having them sometimes freak out and not listen would add to the game.

COD4 Was Garbage (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25972891)

Mass market drivel for retards. Medicore graphics that were running in low rez - 600p. Shit online that was only popular because Gears of War's online was a disaster and Halo 3 turned out to be shit.

Hearing people babble on about turds like COD4 is like listening to the guy from Office Space go on about Michael Bolton...lowest common denominator shit for the masses.

Re:COD4 Was Garbage (1)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972949)

Wow, well um, really tell us what you think of COD4. :) Don't be shy. Everyone here seems more interested in the games they play which is cool and not the article, it was interesting reading the findings. I really don't play online games, so I really don't have anything more to contribute. :)

Re:COD4 Was Garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25973073)

CoD * sucks

(totally biased comments ftw)

Re:COD4 Was Garbage (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972965)

That's funny. I played it on 1680x1050. *shrug*

Re:COD4 Was Garbage (3, Insightful)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973007)

I bet his problem was he played it on the Xbox360, and we know of course that has mediocre graphics.

I thought it was a good game, played on the PC at least. Admittedly, I only really played the single player mode as I was unimpressed with the multiplayer.

I wonder if this is a case of "I hate the game because I bought the competing game" or "I hate the game because it isn't shiny, and I just on the shininess not gameplay."

Re:COD4 Was Garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25973273)

Mediocre graphics? I can think of games from two generations ago with excellent graphics. We've gotten to a point where processing power is irrelevant when it comes to visuals.

Re:COD4 Was Garbage (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25983655)

I apologize for being unclear, I was making fun the previous post, and I'd thought I put in a sarcasm tag with regards to the Xbox360 crack.

I don't have one, and I don't really care how good the graphics are or are not. His post was simply criticizing a game because it ran in 600p, regardless of the games merits with regards to game play.

For consoles, I play games on the Wii, with its 480p graphics.While I am underwhelmed with the graphics often (relatively poor anti-aliasing among other things) that doesn't mean I enjoy the games any less.

Re:COD4 Was Garbage (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973409)

Haha, yeah, it took me a second to figure out what he was talking about, then I remembered: "Oh, yeah, some people actually play FPS games other than Perfect Dark and Goldeneye on a console. That must suck." :P

Re:COD4 Was Garbage (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 5 years ago | (#25975645)

1280x1024 for me on a 19" LCD monitor. Yeah! :P

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972931)

I have to agree. CoD4 is the only game I've ever owned that I played right through the single player campaign more than once. Actually it was 3 times on hardened, 1 time on veteran and 2 times on regular. And, I could pick it up and play again right now (again!) That's kinda crazy. Even the arcarde mode that is unlocked when you complete is great for a quick after work game. The 'secret' level is frenzied and I like it a lot.

CoD4 had lots of 'wow' moments that kept me wanting to play more. The 'wow' moments are still brilliantly executed even now I know they're gonna happen.


I've played CoD5 world at war single player twice. First on hardened and then for fun on regular. I died maybe 3 or 4 times on regular and finished the game in one sitting. I can't think of any real 'wow' moments in the whole game, and unless I am extremely bored I probably won't play the single player again. The bits in CoD5 that were supposed to be 'wow' were either obviously going to happen, or a rip-off of CoD4, and did not wow me at all. I enjoyed the game, but it was not the same experience (for me) as CoD4... of course everyone elses mileage will vary.

END of Subjective SPOILERS

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (3, Interesting)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972957)

Thinking about it more, I think that CoD4 has great 'pace'. There are moments where things are very hectic which are followed by either more hectic moments or moments that are relatively quiet where you can collect your breath. I didn't find that so much in CoD4. Both CoD4 and 5 are linear, but the linearity seemed forced (to me) in CoD5 and it frustrated me a bit. CoD4 is linear as well, but it's not so rigid that it feels linear... there are always a few way to do things. In CoD5 I kept finding myself wanting to go places that I couldn't (this didn't really happen in CoD4... it was a good illusion). Also, the team members in CoD5 are extremely annoying... it seems that every time I go for cover so idiot AI comes and stands behind me so I can't move, or stands there shooting at something other than the enemy directly in front of us... I wanted to kill my AI team a lot in CoD5. CoD5 also has lots of bugs... 'triggers' not being triggered and you're standing there with nothing to do and nowhere to go unless you restart from the last checkpoint (from memory there are 2 bugs like this in the last 3 levels of the game... once when you're outside nazi headqaurters and you snipe 500 dudes and nothing ever happens and only 2 or 3 guys continue to spawn and run out of the building and until you try again and the trigger magically occurs and a column falls. Second, the last few seconds of the game... another trigger bug and you cannot finish (withouth restarting from the last checkpoint).. talk about a way to ruin a climax).

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (2, Insightful)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973017)

Don't blame the developers, its the Nazi's fault ^_^

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

enderjsv (1128541) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980077)

Overall, I liked 4 better than WAW. I agree with you that there aren't as many "Wow" moments in WAW, but there is one thing WAW did better than 4. One of my biggest complaints about number 4 was the never-ending spawn of enemies. At seemingly random times, players would have to progress through enemies that never stopped coming. One of my least favorite parts of 4 was such an occasion, near the beginning at the TV station. In the large room with lots of computers and stuff, I must have killed two dozen guys before I finally realized the only way I was going to pass through it was to run to the other side and hope for the best. 4 had a lot of awkward parts like this where you either had to be scuicidally aggressive, or you had to hide somewhere and wait for pickup while the hordes kept coming and coming.

WAW still has a lot of these never-ending spawn spots, but they're much easier to recognize and, even better, you can progress through them slowly without having to be scuicidally aggressive. Taking a room one cover at a time feels very satisfying, and I find myself actually enjoying the never-ending spawnage rather than being frustrated by it.

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

Taken07 (1395851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973577)

I'd have to say that is the greatest game I've played. Great single player, and damn even great multiplayer. I play it for PC and I'm going through my third time around for level 55 (because of reformats). The single player was engaging with the intertwined story line and great arsenal of weapons. That nuke was ... wow ... I dunno if they'll ever make a game as great as this one. CoD5 was just not as engaging.

Re:COD : Modern Warfare (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25975129)


In any reasonably accurate WWII game, the Nazis lose in the end.

Measure my engagement (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25972759)

When I first post

That's just storytelling (1)

cr_nucleus (518205) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972801)

Those guys just realised that storytelling in videogames is important, they must be genius !

They were actually surprised to see that people did react strongly when a seemingly important NPC gets killed. I guess they didn't play the original Half Life were people didn't want to get barney killed, even though the character has no consistence at all.

I can't believe it took all those measurements for game people to realise it, but it's still good news that someone is noticing.

That's just happy, happy, joy, joy. (4, Funny)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972861)

"They were actually surprised to see that people did react strongly when a seemingly important NPC gets killed. I guess they didn't play the original Half Life were people didn't want to get barney killed, even though the character has no consistence at all."

Of course I wanted Barney killed. That purple dinosaur has been vexing me for years.

Re:That's just happy, happy, joy, joy. (2, Funny)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972901) []

This has been on the internet FOREVER. It's time to take those years of torment out on the purple monstrosity, my friend.

Good luck, and God speed.

Re:That's just happy, happy, joy, joy. (1)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972977)

I love how the Barney Fun Game encourages you to hurt him more with "You can do better than that!" silly stuff... :) I am going back to my online crossword puzzles and let Barney live another day.

Re:That's just storytelling (2, Interesting)

Keill (920526) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973449)

Again, another article talking about the matter of game-play vs storytelling...

The fact is, is that if you get the basic game-play right for the game and audience your aiming for, then you'll do well - and if you tell the story well, then you'll do even better. This, though, shouldn't be news to ANYONE here...

The thing they seem to be aiming for here - (though I'm not quite sure how well they've hit this target) - is to try and find out just what sort of emotional impact both can have upon certain types of gamers.

The market has already shown, however, that if you get the basic game-play right for most types of game, regardless of the plot or story, then you'll do ok. If you get the story right and the basic game-play wrong, however, then you probably won't...

Someone in a post above talked about Oblivion - this to me is a game where, for the market it was aimed at, it got it's priorities right - (plot/story with particular game-play) which is why it was successful.

Unfortunately for me, I'm more interested in the game-play than I am in the story, which generally puts me at odds with most of the market, especially considering I like RPG's... (The reason I like RPG's however, is the opportunity they have for scope and depth of game-play and game-play DEVELOPMENT over most other types of game. Unfortunately for me, the games which use this feature well are very few and far between :( ).

A little biased. (3, Interesting)

mlheur (212082) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972831)

With all the comments like "Predictably, Gears of War seems to get it right.", it seems to be more of a GoW praise article stating that this game has no flaws, but all the others do.

Also, the summary has a small error, article talks of games from 2007, namely GoW, not GoW2.

Re:A little biased. (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973571)

I think Gears of War was a great example for the things they were tracking. I've only played Gears through once, in coop over a weekend with a friend. We both found the experience fantastic, and the article sums up the reasons for this very well.

I don't think this proves Gears is a perfect game, or even the best game. I have never played the game again since, much as I only watched se7en once. They were a great 'experience', but not something that I think I would really enjoy doing again.

Valid research? (2, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972873)

Hundreds of hours? What does that translate to in number of players, distributed on age-groups and types of games? I could of course read the article, but experience makes me suspect it is unlikely to tell me. Even if is only about one type of game, or simply one game, full stop, "hundreds of hours" doesn't seem like much of a sample in statistical terms, which would make their results seem a bit dubious.

What I feel is the problem here is that there are far too many reports of results that have little weight on their own. This doesn't make the individual pieces of research invalid, but it does mean that we can't really conclude much from the results until enough projects have been conducted and somebody has done the proper "meta-research" on the combined dataset.

Re:Valid research? (1)

theredshoes (1308621) | more than 5 years ago | (#25972929)

The article said the methodology was collected using EmSense, it is the last page of the study. I could definitely not talk further about that, I understand the gathering of the information, but not the statistical analysis and I didn't read past the numbered findings.

From the TFA (3, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#25974867)

We measured players' responses to the first 90 minutes of those games, a time that we consider the most important for making a positive impression.

More than 300 hours of physiological and gameplay data were generated and analyzed to develop our findings.

We came in with no preconceptions, no prejudices, and let the response data demonstrate what worked and what didn't. The results are at times a confirmation of existing techniques that are timeless to good game design, and at other times, surprising and revealing about what gamers truly care about but often can't find a way to say.

8 games for 90 minutes comes to 12 hours. 300 / 12= 25.

25-30 "male game players in the 18 to 34 year-old demographic" played 8 FPS games for 90 minutes while being monitored in following fashion:

Biometric Data Gathered

Games in study:

        * Battlefield 2142
        * Call of Duty 3
        * F.E.A.R.
        * Gears of War
        * Ghost Recon AW 2
        * Resistance: Fall of Man
        * Halo 2
        * Half-Life 2

Player responses measured:

        * Brainwaves (through dry EEG sensors)
        * Heart Activity
        * Breathing
        * Blinking
        * Temperature
        * Motion

Factors of analysis:

        * Engagement
        * Emotion
        * Adrenaline
        * Cognition


EmSense utilizes a next-generation, bio-sensory headset to measure consumers' responses to media. The headset measures brainwaves (through dry EEG sensors), heart activity, breathing, blinking, temperature, motion, and other physiological signals as gamers play.

Proprietary algorithms built on decades of research literature and empirically verified with EmSense's testing of thousands of test participants, process physiological signals to develop models of engagement, emotion, adrenaline, and cognition. Each represents a different dimension of the game experience.

EmSense also utilizes analytic and data mining methods designed to be completely blind and objective. "Event tags" identify when and where events, like player deaths, occur. This is correlated with physiological data, then aggregated and benchmarked against other titles. The result is an objective, detailed view into what does and doesn't work to engage players.

Of course, you COULD HAVE set aside 15 minutes and read through those whole 5 pages of text.
Might have even picked up some insight from it, instead of just cold and dry numbers.

Re:From the TFA (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25975887)

Of course, you COULD HAVE set aside 15 minutes

I could indeed, and perhaps I should; but as I believe I said, in my experience it would hardly be worth the effort - the ability of the /. editing team to communicate the essence of valid research results is not very high, even in the few cases where they research they refer to is not frivolous nonsense.

That aside, I still think my main point is valid: that there is far too much trumpeting of "research shows ..." with no founding in reality. People drone on about how research and education are underfunded and how that is the reason why Americans are increasingly anti-intellectual. Perhaps this kind of frivolous attitude to serious science contributes to the problem?

So I Know Which Games to Avoid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25973191)

Personally I'd welcome more research in this area, because it would help me buying games I like. Getting close to 40 and having slow reaction times (in other words, I suck at almost all kinds of games), I personally prefer less "engaging" games in the limited time I can spend on games. Recently, I've bought the Orange Box and had to stop playing the Half Life 2 series after a sort while---great game, but much too stressful.

watch a movie or play puzzle games for engagement (1)

jessica_alba (1234100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973247)

if you want engagement in a fps its got to be multi-player action(who likes killing bots?), and your opponents have to be at your level or higher, and most importantly you must thwart that damn cat from jumping up on the keyboard. Cartmen voice: NO Kiddy! Thats a Bad KIDDY!

Replace a few words and... (2, Funny)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973537)

Gamasutra is running an article written by Tim Hung Lo of EmSense in which he describes the research his company did into the physiological reactions various pornographic videos engendered in viewers. In addition to outward cues like breathing and movement, EmSense also scans brainwaves and heart activity to provide a more complete picture of how a viewer is responding to what he sees and does. They collected hundreds of hours worth of data and made comparisons among a variety of shooters as they were watching such titles as Forest Hump, The Bush Administration, and 18 inches vs. 18 inches (midget porn). They found some interesting information on how pacing, tutorials, and cutscenes can affect a viewers's level of engagement with the videos.

Yeah..... That's a much better article :)

P.S - I know... I'm sick.

Oh thank God. (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973711)

I am -so- glad someone finally put this in writing. Hopefully every game developer from here out will read this article and have some clue how to keep a gamer entralled.

Some games already do it, and others utterly fail. At this point, I only have time to play the games that succeed at this (the ones that fail just can't keep me playing... There's always something better to do.)

Subjective (4, Insightful)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 5 years ago | (#25973819)

I think there is too much in this that's subjective though. One person may find a game highly engaging and allow themselves to become immersed, while someone else just plays games and ignores/doesn't allow themselves to get into it.

A simple movie example would be Blair Witch Project. There's nothing actually gorey/freaky in it, but if you allow the atmosphere and story to pull you in, it's very scary. On the other hand, I know several teens that told me it was completely lame/unscary because of that lack of visual content.

now that's a sticky situation (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25973873)

So when is the study planned for Japan's h-game market.

How do 3D shooters continue to succeed? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 5 years ago | (#25975103)

I think this article explains the success formula for the 3D shooter games, when all they are is more-of-the-same. Just look at how many of the top 3D shooters are sequels to previous versions (hint: all of them). I like to play them from time-to-time, but being older than the control group in this study, I play for different reasons. Sure it's fun to shoot stuff up, but how fun can that be after 15 years? Pretty stuff on the screen gets old too, especially when the game play sucks.

I find the cinematics and historical aspects of the WWII shooters to be the most engaging. Otherwise, you are just running around shooting stuff, which is why I really don't like playing them online. I see the younger generation loves this sort of immediate engagement, however, and they are the ones buying the games (presumably).

Now get off my lawn.

Aliens vs. Predator (1)

LazLong (757) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977265)

While showing that I am a geezer (geek-wise), the only game I think I really got deeply emotionally involved in was the PC game Aliens vs. Predator( It was always when playing against the Aliens, be I Predator or Colonial Marine. It's interesting that the movies don't get me all wound up and involved or sitting on the edge of my seat. This game though....There were times when I was truly scared, and paused the game. Especially when playing late at night.

This was such an unusual experience for me as I have never been afraid of the dark, or really scared by any movies. Probably because I started watching 'monster' movies and such at a very early age.

I still have the game....Maybe I'll pull it out and see how I react to it. If it'll play on XP that is....Maybe look into the sequel, tho I don't know if it is similar as it was produced by a different game design house.

I think real engagement (1)

Strep (956749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977969)

comes from a sense of being tied to the game. I've only felt this when playing hard-core on For those who don't know, in hard-core, when your character "dies", it is completely wiped-out. When you've got an attachment to the character in that all you've been doing can be completely lost, there's more "engagement" and you really do feel true fear of loss.

Re:I think real engagement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25982707)

when your character "dies", it is completely wiped-out

Exactly. No game engages me the way NetHack can, and this is one of the reasons. I can get utterly absorbed in nh, to the extent that when the first Soldier Ant shows up, I'll jump outa my skin. It's absorbing the way a good book is absorbing: utterly.

Who among us hasn't (2, Funny)

tillerman35 (763054) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978443)

- Dodged the RPG that's COMING RIGHT AT ME!!!
- Rotated the camera angle for fifteen minutes trying to look up a hot high-elf babe's robes
- Leaned left, right, and back while in a dog fight with a MIG
- Had their tummy do flip-flops when the character on screen jumps of an impossibly high cliff/building/etc
- Jumped waaaaay back out of the way when the spooky creepy wet-haired Japanese girl comes crawling out of the monitor

OK, I made that last one up- but if she ever does come crawling out of the monitor I'm gonna run like heck and not care who hears me scream like a girl.

Re:Who among us hasn't (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25981067)

Mm Mmmm Mmmm...

I could deal with Urd. She'd be rather fun to, ahem..

I hope there's more research (1)

Iced_Eagle (1276052) | more than 5 years ago | (#25984355)

As a games developer, when I read that I'm curious about a few things.

- What do the engagement charts look like for other genres (RPG's, RTS, MMO, Barbie Horse Adventure, etc)?

- Does the art and animations affect the results? I mean, is it the action of throwing a grenade that players get attached to? Is it the animation and the way your player throws it? Do you get similar responses when you throw a known human grenade versus a fictional type (such as Halo's plasma grenades)?

- What do engagement charts look like in multiplayer? I would assume they would be higher many times as you realize you are playing against human players. But then I gotta ask if the players still stay engaged even when the other players are wiping the floor with them?

- This is perhaps the most important piece of research they can find... Are players finally sick of WW2 shooters? (joke sort of) Anyways, as I said, I'm really interested and want to know more details! I know Valve has said they are interested in this tech, especially since players when giving feedback are fairly ignorant to their own thoughts and feelings. It's wierd to say, but if you can explain why something is fun, then that's great. Many people can't. I'm sure if playtesters asked why they have more engagement throwing a grenade than a warthog, I'm not sure anyone would be able to answer since they may not even realize it.
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