Surveying Games With a Combined Model of Immersion and Flow

Surveying Games With a Combined Model of Immersion and Flow

Ehm Kannegieser, Daniel Atorf, Josua Meier
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9069-9.ch004
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Detecting flow in games is key for successful adaptation processes. Until now, the method of choice to measure flow in games is the usage of questionnaires, such as flow short scale or game experience questionnaire. Because of the shortcomings of these methods, the theoretical model of flow is enhanced by the concept of immersion to propose a unified flow/immersion model. In combination with this more fine-grained model of immersion, player experience may be measured in a more detailed fashion. The enhancement of the theoretical model and the altered experiment procedure are presented. In conclusion, a perspective towards performing the experiment and future data recordings is given.
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The three levels of immersion by Cairns et al. (2006) are elicited by the immersion questionnaire, published by Cheng, She and Annetta (2015). While flow is considered the psychology of optimal experience, immersion is known as the psychology of sub-optimal experience (Cairns et al., 2006). As such, these concepts appear to be linked by definition. However, the exact nature of this link is still unclear. Georgiou and Kyza (2017) define flow as part of the most extreme state of immersion, which puts it into the total immersion category of Cairns’ model.

Existing methods used to elicit flow focus on questionnaires. These questionnaires are based on the definition of immersion employed in these studies. Csikszentmihalyi (1991) described flow as the optimal experience of an action, as a state of extreme focus on an activity. Flow is achieved when the individual becomes engrossed in the activity to a point, at which their surroundings no longer appear relevant. Csikszentmihalyi (1991) considers this the optimal experience, the optimal way to enjoy an action. He links this with the idea of an autotelic personality, a personality that performs actions for the enjoyment derived by the action itself, instead of external gains. This assertion is made based on the theory of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which divides motivations for actions into those motivated by external gains, such as money or rewards, and internal motivation. In this context, the idea of intrinsic motivation and an autotelic personality is special because it means that enjoyment can even be derived from work and other taxing activities. It is achieved when a balance between challenge and skill of the subject is struck.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Player: Person controlling the game. Games can be controlled by multiple people at the same time, but for the experiment, only one person at a time will be playing the game.

Immersion: The sub-optimal experience of an activity. Describes a loss of spatial awareness and temporal awareness as focus is increased on the activity performed.

GSR: Short for galvanic skin response. Used to measure skin conductance using two electrodes placed on either the hand or the feet. Galvanic skin response signals consist of two signals, one baseline signal, which changes over minutes and a signal that changes quickly in reaction to stimuli. GSR can be used to measure emotional arousal.

ECG: Short for electrocardiography. During an ECG, heart muscle activity is recorded using electrodes placed on the chest. Heart muscle activity is gathered from multiple angles. It can be used to measure heart rate as well as the amplitude of the heart signal.

Challenge: Level of difficulty presented when performing an activity. In the context of games, it refers to the difficulty of reaching the game’s targets.

Questionnaire: Collection of questions answered by participants in a study. Questionnaire questions can either be answered freely without guidance, answered by selecting from a possible range of given answers, or answered by means of a Likert scale. A Likert scale provides a range of equally distributed answers ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” in response to a question. Likert scale questionnaires are the type of questionnaires used in the study.

Video Game: Interactive software used for entertainment purposes. Games used for other purposes, such as education, are called serious games.

Flow: Optimal experience of an activity. Flow is used to describe a state of complete concentration, during which all senses are focused on the activity performed.

Presence: Sense of feeling as if physically present in a virtual environment. Immersion is often used as a term when describing presence, but for the study presented here, immersion and flow describe two different phenomena.

Control: Sense of being able to consciously influence outcomes when performing an activity. Within games, control refers to controlling the game’s avatar using the inputs presented by the game.

Spatial/Temporal Awareness: Awareness of time and the surrounding environment while performing an activity that needs concentration. During immersion and flow, this awareness is usually reduced.

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