Introduction to the
Theory of Player Experience
lecture outline & key points




                                         ...
Contents
   • Introduction to key psychological concepts
   • On the psychology and ludology of goals
   • Theories of ent...
What is Player Experience?
    • The cognitions, emotions, and physical
          activity during playing a game, and
    ...
Psychology of Goals
   • The not be overemphasized player experience
         importance of goals for
     can

   • The r...
Types of Emotions
 •     Ortony, Collins & Clore: The Cognitive Structure of Emotions (1990)

 •     Emotions are valenced...
Variables aecting
intensity of emotions
   •     Sense of reality

   •     Proximity

   •     Unexpectedness

   •     A...
Player abilities as
uncertainty factors
   •     Any game that allows use of skill in attaining goals (instead of,
       ...
Player Ability Sets

   •     Player Ability Sets: sets of human
         cognitive, psychomotor, and physical
         ab...
Player performances as
sources of emotions
   •     Performance can also be conceptualised through the
         three-fold...
Game states as scenarios for
eliciting conditions




Games without Frontiers
A Resource for Game Studies  Design
Harvesting exercise
• Use 5 mins to come up
      with game state scenarios
      where there is high
      emotional inte...
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Introduction to the Theory of Player Experience

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A short introduction to the theory of studying and designing player experiences I've developed in my Ph.D. thesis. The set outlines a 90 min lecture on the subject.

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Introduction to the Theory of Player Experience

  1. 1. Introduction to the Theory of Player Experience lecture outline & key points Aki Järvinen aki@gameswithoutfrontiers.net http://www.gameswithoutfrontiers.net
  2. 2. Contents • Introduction to key psychological concepts • On the psychology and ludology of goals • Theories of entertainment & enjoyment • Player abilities in the context of human abilities • Emotion theory in terms of applied ludology • Examples of practical applications for game studies and design • Exercises Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies & Design
  3. 3. What is Player Experience? • The cognitions, emotions, and physical activity during playing a game, and immediately afterwards • I.e. a play experience in the particular context of a game • Studying player experience equals studying psychological, cognitive, physiological, and emotional aspects of gaming encounters Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies & Design
  4. 4. Psychology of Goals • The not be overemphasized player experience importance of goals for can • The road to attaining goals is beset by emotions • Emotions function inset as primary of goals. i.e. the managing which goals players • Goals are embodied into the design of game components, characters, environments, and their attributes Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies & Design
  5. 5. Types of Emotions • Ortony, Collins & Clore: The Cognitive Structure of Emotions (1990) • Emotions are valenced (+/-) reactions towards agents, events, or objects in the world • Games create micro-worlds with agents, events, and objects • Emotion categories according to the OCC model: • Prospect-based emotions • Fortunes-of-others emotions • Attribution emotions • Attraction emotions • Well-being emotions Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies & Design
  6. 6. Variables aecting intensity of emotions • Sense of reality • Proximity • Unexpectedness • Arousal • The variables have consequences for identification with goals, immersing oneself to the game as a world, how surprised one feels about events in the game, etc. Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies Design
  7. 7. Player abilities as uncertainty factors • Any game that allows use of skill in attaining goals (instead of, e.g., pure chance) must oer opportunities for the skills to develop. • Skills are based on abilities and aptitudes • Requires an interpretation of general human abilities from a ludological perspective (see Thesis chapter) • Identifying non-trivial abilities in the face of goals and game mechanics • Analysis method: which abilities make a successful performance of game mechanics uncertain, i.e. which player abilities contribute to the margin of error? Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies Design
  8. 8. Player Ability Sets • Player Ability Sets: sets of human cognitive, psychomotor, and physical abilities that cater for specific skills and aptitudes • What constitutes a ‘dance game’ ability set? How about a ‘brain flexing’ set for crossword puzzles and Sudokus? Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies Design
  9. 9. Player performances as sources of emotions • Performance can also be conceptualised through the three-fold division to self, other, and system • In games of skill, hopes and fears of players are anchored to their own abilities to perform in the face of goals • Skill is a prospect for prospect-based emotions • Thus, performance-of-self is the source of pride and disappointment • And self-judgment on one’s abilities has consequences for the variables that aect the intensity of emotions Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies Design
  10. 10. Game states as scenarios for eliciting conditions Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies Design
  11. 11. Harvesting exercise • Use 5 mins to come up with game state scenarios where there is high emotional intensity or potential • After which we’ll analyse their constitution in terms of game design • Let’s practice with Zuma Games without Frontiers A Resource for Game Studies Design
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