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Identifying Flow in Video Games: Towards a New Observation-Based Method

Joceran Borderie and Nicolas Michinov
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Joceran Borderie: Université Rennes 2, Rennes, France
Nicolas Michinov: Université Rennes 2, Rennes, France

International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS), 2016, vol. 8, issue 3, 19-38

Abstract: The flow, or optimal experience, is a highly focused mental state leading to immersion and high performance. Although flow theory has been widely applied to research on videogames, methods based on behavior observation to identify flow states are limited in this domain. The aim of the present study was to develop a new method to detect flow episodes occurring during a gaming session from observation of players' behaviors and analysis of game replays. The authors developed an optimal experience behavior pattern and a related coding scheme. In-depth interviews were then conducted to determine whether episodes coded as flow by researchers were also described as such by the players themselves. Findings showed that intense concentration followed by an expression of satisfaction could be a useful pattern to detect flow. Unexpectedly, the interviews suggested that frustration, as well as joy, may also be an emotional signature of flow. This study shed new light on the relationship between gameplay and flow.

Date: 2016
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