Phewsie's forum posts

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#1 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -

This is great! Let all the creative minds of the gamers make the game, and with such ease and extensive options...promises to be awesome!

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#2 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -
@RagingLion:  @FluxWaveZ:
Wow, this is a great debate!
1. TEDDI is not specfically designed to detect frustration, but rather changes in emotional states. We do not think of emotions as labels, e.g. bored or happy, because, as FluxWaveZ said we all feel and react differently. As a result we view emotions as a 2 dimensional field of points of Valence (happy to unhappy scale) and Arousal (relaxed to stressed/excited scale), and the emotional states are detected using physiology (arousal) and game context (valence). TEDDI simply says 'oh, there's been a change in state, arousal has gone up by 1.2364, valence down by -0.786' (for example, just making the numbers up..). So a decrease in valence means the player is feeling less happy than before, and an increase in arousal means they're more stressed than before. So the game adapts. It is a very simple methodology, and I'm not saying by any means that this is the best solution. But it's early days in research in this field, so we needed to keep it simple.
I do agree with RagingLion though, that just because games are engaging does not mean they can't be more so. Though I'm not saying that all games should have this either, but that is to the discretion of the designers.
2. I only actually thought of this because a mum told me that she'd love to have this tech in her house for this particular use. I agree that it sounds like a scientist's pipe dream, but it's still something I can put in my thesis! ;-)
3. This is a very interesting point about the frustration..I have to admit I hadn't thought about it in these terms before. Experiencing frustration only to succeed after makes the success feel that much sweeter. However, I would think that there'd be a limit (a personal limit) as to how frustrated, or how long you can feel frustrated for before you give up on something. And I think this limit probably varies with the task at hand and it's importance. I for instance don't like being frustrated in games, I quickly give up. But I have spent a few years now being frustrated with my thesis, and I'm still at it. Even when I was completely stuck for 5 months being able to do no work whatsoever, I still did not give up, and believe you me, I was VERY frustrated. 
I don't know if a methodology could be devised allowing a system to know that a person is close to the limit, I don't know if the physiology even changes once we're close to our limit. But if there was a way, maybe that would be the time to 'hold the pupil's hand' as FluxWaveZ called it?
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#3 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -
I try to keep my blog posts as short as possible in hopes that people will actually read them, and perhaps comment (like you did!).
It is a problem for new people to my blog though, as they don't already know what it is I'm up to..
The post is actually about two ethical issues, that of storing personal data (which is an ethical issue outside games as well), and in developing an adaptive game in a player versus player situation. The ethical issue here is about fairness to the player. It's an obvious issue, to which I have suggested a solution, but there could maybe be others, perhaps more interesting ones?
What I'm searching for is a list if you like, of ethical issues which would arise when attempting to develop and emotionally adaptive computer game. I am of course attempting to create this list myself, but am searching for inspiration and other people's input. As always, anything I use in my PhD Thesis will be referenced, I'm not out trying to steal anyone's ideas!
There would for instance be an issue in an online pve game if the monsters encountered were easier to kill for one person than another. Taking WoW as an example, if one person experienced fear, or too much stress and the environment adapted to make it easier for this player, it would require a lot less of this person to get to level 80 (this is still highest level, right?) than someone who may be more experienced with games and as such handled everything with 'emotional ease'.
Responding to your point on the psychological data. We're actually not really talking about psychological data, there is no profile as such based on the player's psychology. We're collecting physiology only, and the question is, is there a way to abuse this data? What could be the result of a 'data leak'? It is an ethical issue, because people are wary of any data being stored regarding them, and especially if they don't really understand how it could be used..
@ur ps.: When I'm done with my PhD I might be able to help.. :) For now I need to focus on this stuff!
@ur pps.: I have not met anyone yet on who this hasn't worked. The tiniest changes are detected, and it does go up and down on all people I've tested it on (about 100 in total). So, yes, I think it would work on you :)
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#4 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -

TEDDI is an emotive adaptive computer game which I developed for my PhD project. It uses biometrics and game context to determine emotional changes in the player. For more details look at earlier blog posts.. :)

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#5 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -

This area is something I haven’t thought of as much as the appropriateness, so please do feel free to add to and dispute anything I say here! ? 

There are of course lots and lots of ethical issues to consider when making an emotive adaptive game. For instance, people may object to have their emotional states and/or changes monitored to begin with, and many may not like the idea of the game storing this information for future use (in TEDDI the information was stored for future use only for a minute, but as I had to do analysis afterwards all data was written to a log file). The information storage could be short and temporary (e.g. 60 seconds long buffer), or it could be more long term allowing the game to learn more about the player, thus aiding in adapting the game in meaningful ways. Many people are wary of any information being stored about them, and though it is not obvious to me how this sort of information would be misused, it is an important issue to consider. The way I see it however, is that if people were worried about their data being stored and misused they would likely not choose to play the game, and so this issue is avoided. Designers should be aware of this issue though when determining their target group. 

To keep the post fairly short I’ll only mention one other ethical issue at this time, namely the issue of adapting a computer game when played in a player vs. player mode. In a battle between two players, the game can’t adapt the players’ skill levels or luck, as this would make the game unfair to the better player. These sorts of adaptations are exactly the sorts used in TEDDI, which was a one player game only. So what can be done about this versus situation? I would suggest that the environment to be adapted, the colours of the scenery (even subtle changes could have an impact), the tone and speed of the music, and other environmental aspects specific to the game. This could aid in making a player feel better or worse about the situation, without actually helping or obstructing the game play in favour of one player and without interfering with the battle. 

What do you guys think of these ethical issues, and possible solutions? And more importantly, what sort of ethical issues do you envisage with emotionally adaptive computer games?

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#6 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -


  Here are some uses I have thought of:
• Entertainment – games will be more engaging and fun if they adapt to the players’ emotions.
• Parental control – with this technology parents can decide for themselves how excited/stressed/scared or otherwise their child should be feeling whilst playing games, and end the game if it goes too far, or when they think their child has had enough.
• Teaching – in edutainment the games could avoid frustration in the pupil, and in pure entertainment games, the emotional state could help determine the length and depth of tutorials at the start, and when a helpful hint of some sort may be useful to the player.    
Can any of you think of any other uses for this technology?

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#7 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -

This point is something I have really struggled to get my head around. I would just love to know how in Left4Dead they account for four people being in a team, all with their own stress levels. I developed a single player game, a battle against an AI. This allowed me to adapt the AI itself, making it smarter or dumber, faster or slower, luckier or unluckier as required. It’s easy to see how and what can be adapted in a single player game, but in multiplayer the issues are vast: differing emotional states, differing play motivations, differing skill levels, and differing styles of play.  Player motivation determines whether a player wants to rush through a game to get to the boss fights, or the good loot, or whether they are more leisurely in their progress, values exploring the world, reading quest logs, studying loot etc. Skill levels obviously changes how quickly a player gets bored or stressed out of their mind, how do you deal with that in a multiplayer setting? Styles of play is something ahoodedfigure talked about at my GiantBomb blog, whereby players can be very destructive, and all they try to do is break the game, whereas others just play it within the frames of what’s intended. 

I truly don’t know how to account for all these things when attempting to adapt to the player’s emotions. Doing an average could nullify the emotional states altogether, keeping nobody happy. Giving one priority over another will make that player happy and the other frustrated with the game. It’s also important whether the game is coop or a pvp game. In a coop it’s easier as the players should (in theory) all have the same goal, to progress together. But then again, some people are all about the me, me, me, and others are quite the opposite. In a PvP situation you can’t adapt the fight one way or the other, as that would make the more skilled player feel hard done by, and the fight would not really be fair. 
Man, I find this bit tricky! Any ideas floating about out there? 

Should really ask Valve about this... :P

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#8 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -

When developing emotional adaptations for a game I think it’s very important to consider the style of the game. After all, it’s not likely that adaptations that are brilliant for Banjo & Kazooe work just as well in Dead Space, right? And I don’t mean specific things like; add another infected zombie thing to the mix. Then again, I’m not being as general as adapt the music. The level I’m thinking can be related to a mixture of adaptations: The player is bored, what happens now? In Dead Space, the atmosphere could be changed by flickering lights which eventually die, loud noises that move whenever you face your avatar to look in the direction of the noise,   adding more enemies of course, making them harder etc. In Banjo & Kazooe though, the player may not be anywhere near a fight, they may in fact be building a vehicle, or talking to a NPC. What then? Changing the atmosphere isn’t going to make any sense. Obviously the adaptations need to be tailored to the game in question, but is there a core difference between the types of adaptations that may be appropriate depending on the style of game?


I started this blog with a determined statement that, yes, there is. Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s just tweaking and tailoring, rather than fundamental differences in what could be appropriate. Clearly it wouldn’t be appropriate to adapt the vehicles in a game without vehicles, but does the style of the game determine the types of adaptations? Hmmm....

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#9 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -

Have a look at my game, TEDDI, at youTube!

It should hopefully give you a bit more of an insight into what it is I do.. :)

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#10 Posted by Phewsie (43 posts) -

If we want a game to adapt to the player's emotional states, how important is the pace of the game?

I'd say it's very important. Some games may be so slow that it's not appropriate to introduce affective adaptations to begin with, Mah Jong for instance. I suspect most people don't get very emotionally involved playing this game; with the possible exception of the exact moment in time when they realise they have won (or lost). On the opposing side, if the game is very fast (think of the last few levels you ever managed in Tetris) the player is automatically emotionally involved, generally with stress. So if we want to adapt to a wide range of emotions, the game needs to induce a wide range of emotions to be detected, right? So, does that mean that the designers have to specifically aim to induce certain emotions at certain times? What if the player reacts totally differently then, to what the designers wished for?

I think all storylines attempt to induce emotions in the player, but I also suspect that the designers, in general, don't much care if you're feeling happy, sad or angry as long as you're feeling, and enjoying yourself (somewhere below the anger). We can then use this same tactic in adaptive games, attempt to induce emotions, not caring what is being felt, but adapting to the reaction, whatever it may be. How do you induce emotions? Oh, in a variety of ways; music, lighting, textures, ambient noises, character animation, voice acting.. the list goes on and on. But all these methods surely rely on a 'sensible' pacing? You can have peaks and troughs in pace of course, but do they not all rely on time used to induce? But if they are, is the 'sensible' pace the same for everybody, or is this another component which the game needs to adapt for the specific player? What is the 'sensible' pace, what games currently, do you think, are set at a good pace for adaptations to player emotions?

Wow, that is a lot of questions, and I don't think I have the answers to any of them! Just thoughts....

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