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Affective Videogames and Modes of Affective Gaming: Assist Me, Challenge Me, Emote Me (ACE)

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[Jill] I don’t know what happened. [Chris] Barry. Where’s Barry? So opens the mansion scene to Capcom’s survival-horror Resident Evil (Capcom, 1996) – and with it one of the gaming world’s first tentative steps toward realisation of the emotionally-immersive, narrative cinematic experience. In this paper we describe the fundamentals of affective gaming; covering their origins, how they operate, some examples, an-in-depth analysis of one of our early affective games (Gilleade & Allanson, 2002), their current capabilities and the ongoing research to develop them further. We also explore a new approach to game design based on three high-level design heuristics: assist me, challenge me and emote me (ACE), a series of gameplay "tweaks" made possible through affective videogames. We are emotionally-creatures. If affect is not conveyed properly during game play (e.g. if Resident Evil’s ability to inspire fear in the player was non-existent), the player’s suspension of disbelief can be negatively affected and the movie-inspired immersive experience is spoiled. Advances in computation and memory capabilities mean that videogames are more than capable of conveying affect just as well as traditional media (e.g. film, books). As a result games are becoming more reliant on the imagination of game designers for their affective material rather than the constraints of the currently available technology. But the interactive nature of the videogame allows us to go one step further than traditional media. Unlike the latter; videogames are dynamic entities, they change according to how the player interacts with them. At the moment, these interactions are based purely on the input the player consciously decides to use in the game world (i.e. actions executed through the game controller). However these actions are not the only thing going on with the player during play; there are also the mostly unseen physiological responses that go on within the player’s body. Such responses are useful in identifying the current emotional state the player is in. If this information could be somehow collected and invested in the game dynamics; the affective bandwidth of future games could be increased (i.e. bi-directional, game affects player, player affects game and so on) allowing for the emotive "tweaking" of conventional gaming experiences or the creation of whole new ones. There are two ways in which physiological responses have been used in gaming so far. The most obvious are biofeedback games (sometimes referred to as affective feedback) such as the Media Lab relax-to-win racing game (Bersak et al, 2001); where players consciously try to control their biological responses of which they are not normally consciously aware (e.g. heartbeat, skin response, blood pressure). Such games use biological sensors to influence game play, thus the player effectively controls the game via their control of their own internal bodily functions. A variant of this is the skin-response based videogame created by Future University-Hakodate (Sakurazawa et al, 2004) where onlookers attempt to influence the physiological state of the player (i.e. provoking flight or fight responses through loud noises such as clapping) which then affects the game play (i.e. makes its more difficult, the player would attempt to exert conscious control over their biological responses to avoid getting into further difficulty). The other use of physiological data is for truly affective gaming, a derivation of Affective Computing (Picard, 1997). These games use the player’s own physiology to assess their current emotional state; this information is then used to manipulate gameplay in some prescribed manner in order to create more engaging and / or immersive entertainment experiences. The player may not even be aware that their physiological state is being sensed, the intention is to capture their normal affective reactions. In previous work on affective games (Gilleade & Allanson); we used the player’s heart rate to control the difficulty of a conventional videogame. Whenever game play was deemed too boring or overly exciting (i.e. represented as a decrease or increase in heartbeat rate respectively) the videogame would alter play to reverse the player’s affective state to keep within an optimum range. In the full paper we will describe these two classes in more detail and also introduce a more complete classification and discussion of affective gaming. Based on this analysis of other affective games and our own experience of the design of affective games, we propose several high level design heuristics for affective gaming, which we will explore further in the paper: • Assist me: Games that; identify player frustrations to which the game offers assistance through the current gaming context. • Challenge me: Games that; identify the player’s state of enjoyment in relation to the current challenge being offered to which the game compensates for if the challenge is to be found lacking. • Emote me: Games that; identify player responses to intentional emotional provoking content to which the game manipulates subsequent related content in respect to the recorded response. References: ----------- Gilleade, K., Allanson, J. (2003). A Toolkit for Exploring Affective Interface Adaptation in Videogames. Proceeding of HCI International 2003, volume 2. LEA, New Jersey, pages 370-374. Bersak, D., McDarby, G., Augenblick, N., McDarby, P., McDonnell, D., McDonal, B., Karkun, R. Biofeedback using an Immersive Competitive Environment. Online Proceedings for the Designing Ubiquitous Computing Games Workshop, Ubicomp 2001. Sakurazawa, S., Yoshida, N., Munekata, N. (2004). Entertainment Feature of a Game Using Skin Conductance Response. Proceedings of ACE 2004, Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology, ACM Press, pages 181-186. Picard, R. Affective Computing. MIT Press (1997).
Contact: Kiel Mark Gilleade, Computing Department; Lancaster University,
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