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Affective Ludology: Researching Fun, Affect, and User Experience in Games

Dr. Lennart Nacke
Department of Computer Science University of Saskatchewan

June 7, 2010 at  2:00 PM
George Zames Room MC437

Digital games provide the most engaging interactive experiences. The research in interactive entertainment, especially in gameplay experience is stimulated mainly from the research communities of science and technology (e.g., HCI, physiological and entertainment computing and social science).

This talk is located at the intersection of these research areas, bringing together emerging methodological and scientific approaches from these multi-facted communities. I will discuss and explain work in the field of affective ludology, which focuses on game analysis and player-centered design. We will revisit concepts of fun in games and talk about flow and immersion models, then we will have a closer look at affect and emotion and how this can be studied in a gaming context. The combined results of cognitive and emotional investigations for describing, defining, and classifying the interactive relationship between players and games are described.

You will be able to take away three methodologies for measuring user experience in games from this talk. First, the objective assessment of physiological user responses together with automated event-logging techniques will show how to collect essential player- and game-related variables for a comprehensive understanding of their interaction. Second, using psychometric questionnaires will allow assessment of players' subjective emotion and cognition. Third, the combination of the two approaches allows cross-correlations and inferences to be made about gameplay experience with focus on HCI. We will briefly discuss the many possibilities that open from this research, such as the inclusion of more complex and detailed gameplay metrics together with psychophysiological metrics will enable a comprehensive analysis of player behavior, attention, and motivation.


Dr. Lennart Nacke received one of Europe's first Ph.D. degrees in Digital Game Development from Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden. He is currently working on affective computing, user experience, and applying game design methods for creating entertaining interfaces as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Saskatchewan. He frequently chairs and organizes workshops and panels on topics such as applying game design to user interfaces, affective computing, measurement of fun, joyful interaction design, game usability and user experience (UX) at venues such as CHI, DiGRA, Future Play, and GDC Canada. As much as an avid gamer, he is a passionate researcher and consultant, whose scientific interests are affective player testing and physiological interaction for example with EEG (i.e., brainwaves) and EMG (i.e., facial muscle contractions) or eye tracking as well as gameplay experience in player-game interaction. More detailed information can be found on his website: