How to Model and Augment Player Satisfaction: A Review
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How to Model and Augment Player Satisfaction: A Review Georgios N. Yannakakis Center for Computer Games Research IT-University of Copenhagen Rued Langgaards Vej 7 DK-2300 Copenhagen S email@example.com ABSTRACT 2.1 Qualitative Approaches This is a review on approaches for modeling satisfaction per- Several researchers have been motivated to identify what is ceived by users interacting with entertainment systems. Ex- ‘fun’ in a game and what engages people playing computer perimental studies with adult and children users of games games. Psychological approaches include Malone’s princi- (screen-based and physical-interactive) are outlined and the ples of intrinsic qualitative factors for engaging game play most promising approaches for augmenting player satisfac- , namely challenge, curiosity and fantasy, as well as the tion while the game is played (i.e. in real-time) are dis- well-known concepts of the theory of flow . Incorporat- cussed. ing flow in computer games as a model for evaluating player enjoyment has been a focus of few studies [34, 9]. A com- prehensive review of the literature on qualitative approaches 1. INTRODUCTION for modeling player enjoyment demonstrates a tendency for Cognitive user models of playing experience promise signifi- proposed criteria to overlap with Malone’s and Csikszent- cant potential for the design of digital interactive entertain- mihalyi’s foundational concepts. An example of such an ment systems such as screen-based computer or augmented- approach is Lazzaro’s work on ‘fun’ clustering . Lazzaro reality physical games. Quantitatively modeling entertain- focuses on four entertainment factors derived from facial ex- ment or satisfaction — fun, player satisfaction and enter- pressions and data obtained from game surveys on players: tainment will be used interchangeably in this paper — as a hard fun, easy fun, altered states and socialization. Koster’s class of user experiences may reveal game features or user theory of fun , which is primarily inspired by Lazzaro’s features of play that relate to the level of satisfaction per- four factors, defines ‘fun’ as the act of mastering the game ceived by the user (player). That relationship can then be mentally. An alternative approach to fun capture is pre- used to adjust digital entertainment systems according to sented in  where fun is composed of three dimensions: individual user preferences to optimize player satisfaction in endurability, engagement and expectations. real-time. A few indicative studies among the vast literature of the This paper reviews the state-of-the-art literature on qualita- user and game experience field are considered in this section. tive and quantitative approaches to player satisfaction mod- The work of Pagulayan et al. [27, 26] provides an extensive eling derived from studies with children and adult users. outline of game testing methods for effective user-centered Approaches covered include design and construction of both design of games that generate enjoyable experiences. Ijssell- cognitive and affective models for capturing entertainment. stein et al.  describe the challenge of adequately charac- Moreover, the promise of real-time adaptive techniques for terizing and measuring experiences associated with playing optimizing entertainment of the user in real-time is outlined digital games and highlight the concepts of immersion  and open research questions in entertainment modeling and and flow  as potential candidates for evaluating game- augmentation are discussed. play. Ryan et al.  have considered human motivation of play in virtual worlds, attempting to relate it to player satisfaction. Their survey experiments demonstrate that 2. ENTERTAINMENT MODELING AND perceived in-game autonomy and competence are associated OPTIMIZATION with game enjoyment. We classify approaches for capturing the level of player sat- isfaction into qualitative and quantitative. The first includes Vorderer et al.  present an analysis of the impact of qualitative features and criteria that collectively contribute competition (i.e. challenge) on entertainment and identify to engaging experiences in entertainment systems, derived challenge as the most important determinant of the enjoy- from experimental psychology studies; the latter includes ment perceived by video game (Tomb Raider ) players. They studies for quantifying the reported qualitative criteria of claim that successful completion of a task generates sympa- entertainment and constructing models that quantify (in thetic arousal — especially when the challenge of the task some appropriate way) the complicated mental state of sat- matches the player’s abilities, which is consistent with the isfaction perceived while interacting with digital interactive flow concept . Finally, according to Choi et al. , chal- systems . Work on methodologies for improving player lenge and satisfaction appear as independent processes, in satisfaction in real-time is presented at the end of this sec- contrast to the views of Malone  and Yannakakis et al. tion.
 where satisfaction derives from the appropriate level of A further step toward entertainment capture is to equip challenge and other game components. games with richer human-computer interaction through af- fect recognizers which are able to identify correlations be- All the above-mentioned studies are based on either em- tween physiological signals and the human notion of enter- pirical observations or on linear correlations of user input tainment. Measurements of physiological quantities have (interaction and physiological data) with reported emotions been used extensively within the affective computing re- derived from Likert scale questionnaires. On the other hand, search area for emotion recognition in children and adults. the quantitative approaches presented in the following sec- Heart rate (HR) signals have been monitored to effect dis- tion attempt to formulate entertainment in mathematical crimination between children’s exploration, problem-solving models which yield reliable numerical values for ‘fun’, enter- and play tasks . Experiments with two-year old children tainment or excitement. further showed suppression of heart rate variability (HRV) during exploration, and solution of a puzzle, suggesting that the task demands for these two activities were greater than 2.2 Quantitative approaches those during play . Advances in quantitative player satisfaction modeling have established a growing community of researchers that inves- Correlations between physiological signals — galvanic skin tigate dissimilar methodologies for modeling and improving response (GSR), jaw electromyography (EMG), respiration gameplay experience . Generated cognitive and affective and cardiovascular measures — and reported adult user modeling approaches are classified here according to the in- experiences in computer games have been examined by put source data used for building the models: player-game Mandryk et al. . In , a fuzzy model with rules interaction or physiological data. grounded in psychophysiology theory indicates that high arousal and positive valence (a combination corresponding 2.2.1 Player-Game Interaction Data to ‘fun’ and excitement) is present when HR and GSR are Iida’s work on metrics of entertainment in board games is high and the jaw electromyography corresponds to a smiling considered pioneering, being the first attempt at modeling player. Working on the same basis as Mandryk et al. , ‘fun’ quantitatively. He introduced a general metric of en- Ravaja et al.  examined whether the nature of the game tertainment for variants of chess games, based on average opponent influences the physiological state of players. In ad- game length and possible moves . Other work in the dition, Hazlett’s  work focused on the use of facial EMG field of quantitative entertainment capture is based on the to distinguish positive and negative emotional valence dur- hypothesis that the player-opponent interaction — rather ing interaction with a racing video game. Moreover, Rani than the audiovisual features, the context or the genre of et al.  propose a methodology for detecting the anxi- the game — is the property that contributes the majority ety level of the player and appropriately adjusting the level of the quality features of entertainment in a computer game of challenge (e.g. speed) in the game of ‘Pong’. Physio- . Given this fundamental assumption, a metric for mea- logical state (hear-rate, galvanic skin response) prediction suring the real time entertainment value of predator/prey models have also been proposed for potential entertainment games was designed, using quantitative estimators of game augmentation in computer games . characteristics (such as challenge and curiosity) based on the player-game interaction. The developed metric was estab- All of the studies referred to above use physiological mea- lished as efficient and reliable by validation against human surements for capturing user experiences (e.g. ‘fun’, engage- judgement [48, 41]. Further experimental survey studies by ment or excitement) applied within the computer and edu- Beume et al. [4, 5] demonstrate the generality of the pro- tainment games framework. Experiments by Yannakakis et posed interest metric in different prey/predator game vari- al. [51, 52, 45, 49] have distinguished those features of HR, ants. A quantitative measure of flow derived from subject’s skin conductance (SC) and blood volume pulse (BVP) sig- perceived gameplay duration is introduced in those studies. nal recordings of children attributed to entertainment from those features that correspond to pure physical activity in Additional experiments  have shown that artificial neu- action games played in interactive physical playgrounds. In ral networks and fuzzy neural networks can extract a better those studies, highly accurate subjective models (predic- estimator of player satisfaction than a human-designed one, tors of entertainment preferences) of reported ‘fun’ grounded given appropriate estimators of the challenge and curiosity in statistical features of physiological signal dynamics were of the game and data on human players’ preferences . constructed. Those studies introduce the notion of comparative fun anal- ysis, opposed to Likert scale, for eliciting genuine and sub- 2.3 Optimizing Player Satisfaction jective complex notions like ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyment’ out of test Approaches towards optimizing player satisfaction can be subjects. Using 2-alternative forced choice survey questions classified as implicit or explicit. Within the first class of — e.g. ‘which of these two games was more fun to play?’ — approaches we meet use of machine learning techniques for minimizes the assumptions made about subject’s notions of adjusting a game’s difficulty — based on the assumption ‘fun’ and allows a fair comparison between the answers of dif- that challenge is the only factor that contributes to en- ferent subjects. The reliability of comparative fun analysis joyable gaming experiences — which implies entertainment is shown through the highly accurate entertainment mod- augmentation. Such approaches include applications of rein- els generated in both screen-based  and physical game forcement learning , genetic algorithms , probabilistic test-beds . models  and dynamic scripting [33, 20]. Moreover, user models have been constructed for the generation of adaptive 2.2.2 Physiological Data interactive narrative systems that potentially optimize the
experience of the user [3, 31, 35]. User preference modeling  G. Andrade, G. Ramalho, H. Santana, and towards content (race track) creation in racing games has V. Corruble. Extending reinforcement learning to also shown a potential for enhancing the quality of playing provide dynamic game balancing. In Proceedings of the experience in those games [36, 37]. However, human survey Workshop on Reasoning, Representation, and experiments verifying the assumption that player satisfac- Learning in Computer Games, 19th International tion is enhanced have not been reported in all aforemen- Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), tioned approaches. pages 7–12, August 2005.  H. Barber and D. Kudenko. A user model for the Within the explicit methods for optimizing player satisfac- generation of dilemma-based interactive narratives. In tion, robust adaptive learning mechanisms have been built G. N. Yannakakis and J. Hallam, editors, Proceedings to optimize the human-verified ad-hoc ‘interest’ (entertain- of the AIIDE’07 Workshop on Optimizing Player ment) metric for prey/predator games introduced in [40, Satisfaction, Technical Report WS-07-01, pages 13–18. 48]. Experiments showed that an on-line neuro-evolution AAAI Press, 2007. mechanism [41, 42, 43, 53] and a player modeling technique  N. Beume, H. Danielsiek, C. Eichhorn, B. Naujoks, through Bayesian learning  were each capable of main- M. Preuss, K. Stiller, and S. Wessing. Measuring Flow taining or increasing the game’s entertainment value while as Concept for Detecting Game Fun in the Pac-Man the game was being played. Effectiveness and robustness of Game. In Proc. 2008 Congress on Evolutionary the adaptive (neuro-evolution) learning mechanism in real- Computation (CEC’08) within Fifth IEEE World time has been evaluated via human survey experiments . Congress on Computational Intelligence (WCCI’08). Furthermore, studies with the “Playware”  augmented- IEEE, 2008. reality playground have shown that ad-hoc rule-based mech-  N. Beume, T. Hein, B. Naujoks, G. Neugebauer, anisms , and gradient search approaches  applied to N. Piatkowski, M. Preuss, R. Stoer, and A. Thom. To artificial neural network entertainment models , can suc- Model or Not to Model: Controlling Pac-Man Ghosts cessfully adapt a physical interactive game in real-time ac- Without Incorporating Global Knowledge. In Proc. cording to a user’s individual play features and improve chil- 2008 Congress on Evolutionary Computation dren’s gameplay experience. (CEC’08) within Fifth IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence (WCCI’08). IEEE, 2008. 3. DISCUSSION  C. Hutt. Exploration and play, in Play and learning, The limitations of the quantitative approaches to entertain- pages 175–194. Gardner Press: New York, 1979. ment modeling lie in the complexity of entertainment as a  G. Calleja. Digital Games as Designed Experience: mental state. The generated entertainment values cannot be Reframing the Concept of Immersion. PhD thesis, regarded as a mental cognitive or affective state approxima- Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 2007. tors but should be viewed rather as numerical correlates of  D. Choi, H. Kim, and J. Kim. Toward the expressed user entertainment preferences. These correlates, construction of fun computer games: Differences in however, serve the purpose of capturing the human notion the views of developers and players. Personal of perceived satisfaction for generating enjoyable playing ex- Technologies, 3(3):92–104, September 1999. periences.  B. Cowley, D. Charles, M. Black, and R. Hickey. Toward an Understanding of Flow in Video Games. The existing explicit mechanisms for improving player sat- ACM Computers in Entertainment, 6(2), July 2008. isfaction in real-time can be used as baseline approaches  M. Csikszentmihalyi. 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