Exploring the Cause of Game (Derived) Arousal: What biometric accounts of player experience revealed


DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference
, August, 2014
Volume: 8
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

In the context of a three-year research study into game violence, designed to query the strong association between policy-oriented effects research and responsive regulation measures, a mixed methodology was employed to examine player experience with ‘violent’ texts (as introduced in Schott et al., 2013a). Guided by the supposition that ‘explor[ing] the extent to which the public’s perception of causal links between game playing and various social ills’ might be ‘moderated or even undermined by [knowledge of] how players actually respond to and negotiate their way through the content and characteristics of the medium’ (OFLC, 2009, p. 24), our study contains a number of data or ‘entry’ points. The aim is to characterize the multi-dimensional nature of players’ experiences. This paper addresses the outcome of utilizing one measure in particular, biometric measures (GSR), as a guide for determining what aspects of Battlefield 3 (Electronic Arts) should be examined in accounts of player experiences. Our method of applying biometric data is outlined and what it was able to reveal in terms of the occurrence and cause of arousal for players is discussed. The paper reflects on what a broader and textually neutral method of accessing game-play experiences in the context of a ‘violent’ game reveals about play. A key outcome of taking this approach to detecting what aspects of a game had the most impact on players, is how GSR led us away from content that is more commonly highlighted and prioritized in the classification of games like Battlefield 3 - as an engagement with ‘violence’.