Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Education & Arts

First Advisor

Dr Mark McMahon

Abstract

This thesis outlines a research project whose aim was to develop a design taxonomy for the creation of immersion in video-games. These guidelines can then be used in-sync with different stages in video-game design and development to ensure an immersive experience. Integral to this is the 'suspension of disbelief' the end user experiences when fully immersed in a video-game (Holland, 2002; Mediacollage.com, 2006). A review of the literature has identified the major contributing theory to the concept of immersion as flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). Flow embodies cognitive elements of involvement such as concentration on a task, completing a challenge, having control over the environment and so on. This cognitive flow is also integrated with affective components such as the loss of self consciousness and sense of 'oneness' with the environment. A model of immersion has been proposed that embraces the cognitive aspects of flow through the gameplay elements that have been integrated as well as the affective dimension of identification which can be achieved through the integration of narrative elements. Immersive gameplay is framed within the nature of the challenges the user faces. These vary, such as the psychomotor challenges inherent in platform games and shooters through cognitive challenges of quizzes and tutorials through to social challenges such as multiplayer online environments. The criteria for cognitive flow embrace but also extend on traditional theories of motivation. Concepts such as challenge and control (Astleitner & Weisner, 2004) combine with the relevance and confidence inherent in Keller's ARCS theory of motivation (Rezabek, 1994) to describe the contingent aspects of gameplay. An understanding of these within the context of game goals, challenges, rules, boundaries and feedback can assist designers in applying appropriate criteria to ensure deep cognitive engagement on the part of the end user. Playing a game, however, is also an emotional and aesthetic experience. The term 'emotioneering' (Freeman, 2003) has been used to describe the ways in which designers create a sense of involvement with the game. These include traditional motivational constructs such as curiosity/attention, satisfaction and fantasy, and can be disaggregated to a range of criteria that may be used to guide the development of the affective aspects of gaming including player enacted narrative and role·play, the affective and the range of 'interesting' and 'deepening' techniques that can add emotional depth and complexity to the game world (Freeman, 2003) through visual and narrative design elements. The criteria developed from the immersion model are proposed as a lens to assist designers in understanding this state-of-mind. These criteria have been applied through the analysis of the use of existing games in a study on undergraduate students in game design and culture to ascertain their validity, and with the goal of providing guidelines for the future design of entertainment as well as serious games.

Included in

Game Design Commons

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