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Title: Adaptive technologies in digital games : the influence of perception of adaptivity on immersion
Author: Denisova, Alena
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 2123
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2016
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Digital games with adaptive technologies offer more tailored experiences to their players, as gameplay is based on the players' performances and behaviours in the game. This could potentially lead to better gaming experiences. Though it is also possible that just the mere expectation of clever AI could affect players' first impressions and subsequently their perceived experiences. At the present moment, there is little empirical evidence supporting this claim. This research aims to gather empirical evidence to test the hypothesis that players' expectations of an adaptive digital game have an effect on their immersion. For this, three studies were conducted. First, preferences were explored as a form of expectations that could influence immersion. The results show no effect of preferences with regards to the visual perspective on immersion. A more controlled manipulation in the form of game descriptions was then used in the subsequent experiments. Participants played a game without adaptive features while being told that the game was adapting to their performance. As a result, players who believed that the game had adaptive AI experienced higher levels of immersion than the players who were not aware of it. Similarly, when playing the game twice people felt more immersed in the session that was supposedly adapting to their behaviour, in spite of experiencing the same gameplay as in the other session. This effect was then explored in more detail in games with adaptive features. For this, two games were developed to adapt in two distinct ways to players' performance in the game. Immersion was affected differently depending on the precision of information about these adaptive features. More detailed information prompts players to change their tactics to incorporate the adaptation into their play and experience the benefits of this feature. Merely being aware of the adaptation leads to more immersion, regardless of its presence in the game. Similarly, the presence of an adaptive feature in the game leads to heightened sense of immersion, which is enhanced by the precision of information players receive about it. Evidence also suggests that this effect is durable. Overall, this research provides empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that players' expectations of adaptive features in single-player games have a positive effect on immersion. This is a valuable contribution to the theoretical understanding of immersion, while it also provides some insights into the potential precautions that should be considered when conducting experiments into player experience in the lab and `in the wild', both in academic studies and during player testing sessions run by game developers.
Supervisor: Cairns, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available