By the same authors

“Horror, guilt and shame” – Uncomfortable Experiences in Digital Games

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Publication details

Title of host publicationCHI PLAY 2019 - Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play
DateAccepted/In press - 16 Aug 2019
DatePublished (current) - 17 Oct 2019
Number of pages13
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Electronic)9781450366885

Publication series

NameCHI PLAY 2019 - Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play


Gameplay frequently involves a combination of positive and negative emotions, where there is increasing interest in how to design for more complex forms of player experience. However, despite the risk that some of these experiences may be uncomfortable, there has been little empirical investigation into how discomfort manifests during play and its impact on engagement. We conducted a qualitative investigation using an online survey (N=95), that focused on uncomfortable interactions across three games: Darkest Dungeon, Fallout 4 and Papers, Please. The findings suggest games create discomfort in a variety of ways; through providing high-pressure environments with uncertain outcomes and difficult decisions to make, to the experience of loss and exposing players to disturbing themes. However, while excessive discomfort can jeopardize player engagement, the findings also indicate that discomfort can provide another facet to gameplay, leading to richer forms of experience and stimulating wider reflections on societal issues and concerns.

    Research areas

  • Emotion, Emotional challenge, Player experience, Reflection, Uncomfortable interactions

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