Atmosphere & Challenge: An Exploration of Dissonant Player Experiences
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Dissonance means an unusual combination of any two things. Two dissonant experiences in video games which could lead to undesirable player states are thematic dissonance and difficulty dissonance. Thematic dissonance potentially annoys players by breaking the atmosphere, and difficulty dissonance by preventing players with low skill from progressing past unbalanced challenges, resulting in rage-quits. This thesis seeks to deepen the understanding of dissonant experiences in video games through two experiments measuring the player experience as affected by different audio and practice conditions respectively. Results indicate that the experience colloquially referred to as a rage-quit is directly affected by avatar death events and game-specific skill and is related to lower levels of heart rate variability (HRV) and higher levels of electrodermal activity (EDA), which implicates feelings of stress. This project successfully advances the definition of video game atmosphere as the level of subjective thematic fit or association between the audio and visual components of a game’s setting, and indicates that musical thematic dissonance may lead to higher intensity negative valence facial events.
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Giovanni Ribeiro (2019). Atmosphere & Challenge: An Exploration of Dissonant Player Experiences. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14702