Affective Ludology, Flow and Immersion in a First- Person Shooter: Measurement of Player Experience

  • Lennart Nacke Blekinge Institute of Technology
  • Craig Lindley Blekinge Institute of Technology


Gameplay research about experiential phenomena is a challenging undertaking, given the variety of experiences that gamers encounter when playing and which currently do not have a formal taxonomy, such as flow, immersion, boredom, and fun. These informal terms require a scientific explanation. Ludologists also acknowledge the need to understand cognition, emotion, and goal- oriented behavior of players from a psychological perspective by establishing rigorous methodologies. This paper builds upon and extends prior work in an area for which we would like to coin the term “affective ludology.” The area is concerned with the affective measurement of player-game interaction. The experimental study reported here investigated different traits of gameplay experience using subjective (i.e., questionnaires) and objective (i.e., psychophysiological) measures. Participants played three Half-Life 2 game level design modifications while measures such as electromyography (EMG), electrodermal activity (EDA) were taken and questionnaire responses were collected. A level designed for combat-oriented flow experience demonstrated significant high-arousal positive affect emotions. This method shows that emotional patterns emerge from different level designs, which has great potential for providing real-time emotional profiles of gameplay that may be generated together with self- reported subjective player experience descriptions.