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Christian Wallraven, Uijong Ju; An fMRI analysis of subjective experience during immersive gaming. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):993. doi: 10.1167/17.10.993.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A large number of perceptual and cognitive processes are activated during game play. Previous studies have identified seven core dimensions of such processes: competence, immersion, flow, tension, challenge, and positive and negative affect. Although research has begun to investigate neural correlates of individual dimensions, the brain patterns related to the full range of these subjective game experiences so far has not yet been studied. In the present research, we assess subjective game play experience in fMRI using a custom-made, immersive driving game, in which we explicitly vary the game mechanics to induce different levels of game experience. In all versions of the game, the task was to navigate a race course, while collecting bonus tokens and avoiding obstacles. There were four, 3-minute versions of the game that manipulated different aspects of game experience: baseline, difficult (increased obstacles), goal-decreased (decreased bonus tokens), and speeded (increased car acceleration). Participants (N=18) played the baseline version first, followed by random presentation of the other three versions with 30s break-times in-between. Stimulus presentation in the fMRI-scanner used stereo-enabled goggles (800x600px, 60fps) and game-sounds presented via headphones. After the experiment, the seven dimensions of game experience were assessed using a standard questionnaire (GEQ). Beta-values for each of the four conditions were correlated in a whole-brain, FDR-corrected correlation analysis with each of the seven questionnaire dimensions. In addition, an MVPA-based correlational analysis was conducted for participants based on a 4x4 similarity matrix created by evaluating the Euclidean distances of the seven-dimensional rating vectors. Results show significant activations for positive affect, competence, flow and challenge in dorsal and ventral pathways (BA17,18,19 and BA7,37,39,40). The MVPA-analysis confirmed these regions and also showed significant activations in the frontal lobe. Our results for the first time identify the perceptual, motivational, and control networks engaged during active, immersive game play.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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