Immersed, but How? That Is the Question

Paul Pivec, Maja Pivec


The success of any computer game, be it recreational or educational, is dependent on the engagement of the player during the first and subsequent interactions. A literature search on desired game characteristics results in varied opinions, but they all suggest that the success of a game is increased when the immersive characteristics of that game grab the attention of the player. They state that when immersion occurs, in the sense of losing track of time through the complete focus on the task at hand, the game motivates the player to repeatedly engage in play. This type of motivation has been described as flow. The concept of flow can be used to identify which computer games foster the persistent re-engagement of the player and eye-tracking technology can be utilized to verify player immersion. The analysis here, however, shows that unless the game also scaffolds the player’s abilities, this immersion will be lost and the game will fail. The player’s abilities are incremented in a recursive loop, illustrated in a model. The scaffolded level of skill requirement is what creates the immersion and the player’s desire to engage. The research described in this article also presents a game flow evaluation matrix for analysing player immersion, prototyped on a newly developed commercial game, and validated against market perceptions of the same game upon release.


action; computer games; eye-tracking; immersion; learning; usability

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