Master's Thesis

Evaluation of the Suitability of Heart Rate Measurements for Testing Digital Games in Different Game Scenarios


Philip Witte

Processing Period:

23.10.2017 - 23.04.2018


Does measuring Heart Rates (HR) significantly enhance the usefulness of game tests? According to a study by Drachen et al. (2010), HR results correlate negatively with the positive items of the iGEQ (immersion, competence, flow etc.), which should provide information about a player’s feelings during play. However, said study’s setup is questionable (small number of participants and constant interruptions to fill out questionnaires). Because of this, the goal of this thesis is to try to recreate these results.

Many studies (like the one mentioned above) base their results on the evaluation of action games. It is possible, that the amount of action within a game can influence the player’s HR. Ivarsson et al. (2013) already proved the influence of violent content inside a game on HR. Taking this into account, a game’s scenario seems to influence HR readings. This raises the question, whether or not the correlation between HR and iGEQ still exists, if different scenarios are examined.

To answer this question, the scope of this thesis includes the development of two versions of a game: action and non-action. The action version includes combat scenarios and requires quick decision-making. The non-action version includes no violent conflicts and is based on puzzle mechanics and resource management. Both versions contain an identical graphical style and use the same controls.

Within the study of this thesis, participants will be asked to play several short gaming sessions, while wearing an HR-belt. Similar to Drachen et al. (2010) the iGEQ will be completed during play and all participants test both versions in a randomized order. After testing a game, the participant’s HR data will be examined and taken as the basis for an interview. This step is usually performed using GSR data. It will be interesting to see if HR data can be used in a similar fashion. In past studies, heart rate variability (HRV) was measured to discover influences of different stimuli on emotional arousal (Pallavi et al., 2016). Because of this, HRV data will be evaluated as well.

The study will be conducted in collaboration with Blue Byte Düsseldorf. The experimental setup will be built to resemble their play tests as close as possible. This will include game-specific questionnaires, like the ones used at Blue Byte.