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From the same journal

Player Experience and Deceptive Expectations of Difficulty Adaptation in Digital Games

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Published copy (DOI)



Publication details

JournalEntertainment Computing
DateAccepted/In press - 3 Dec 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Dec 2018
DatePublished (current) - 2019
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)56-68
Early online date5/12/18
Original languageEnglish


Increasingly, digital games are including adaptive features that adjust the
level of diculty to match the skills of individual players. The intention is to
improve and prolong the player experience by allowing the player to have the
feeling of challenge without it being overwhelming and leading to repeated
failure and frustration. Previous work has shown that player experience is
indeed improved by such adaptations but also that the player experience can
be improved also by simply claiming such an adaptation is present even when
it is not. It is therefore possible that claims about adaptations and the actual
adaptations could interact and not lead to the intended outcomes for the
players or worse disappoint players. This paper reports on two studies that
were conducted to experimentally investigate the interaction between game
adaptations and player information about adaptations on the player experience,
specically their sense of immersion in the game. For this, two games
were developed using two dierent kinds of adaptations to adjust diculty
based on players' performance in the game. Participants were provided with
information about game adaptations independently of whether the adaptations
were present. The results suggest that players felt more immersed in
the game when told that the game adapts to them, regardless of whether
the adaptation was present in the game or not. This eect was observed
in both games despite their dierent adaptations and it remained prominent
even during longer gaming sessions. These ndings demonstrate that players'
knowledge of adaptations in
uences their experience independently of adaptations.
In this particular context, the knowledge reinforced the experience
of the adaptations. This suggests that, at least in some circumstances, developers
do not need to be concerned about negative eects of telling players
about in-game adaptations.

Bibliographical note

This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

    Research areas

  • Digital games, information, adaptation, difficulty adjustment, deception, player experience, immersion

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