A psychophysiological acquisition device for affective video games

Electronic versions


  • Thomas Christy

    Research areas

  • PhD, School of computer Sciences


The importance of emotions for normal communicative behaviour has
been realised in computational sciences since 1999. Affective computing
aims to accommodate the need for emotions in two-way human computer
interactions. Interactivity forms the foundation of computer video games.
Engaging emotions into video games is an attractive proposition, for both
developers and game players. Affective gaming forms a growing field of
research in computer science, which relies heavily on affective acquisition
devices. Input devices for affective gaming are woefully under-invested,
particularly given the longevity of the underlying technologies.
This thesis explores the reasons for this delayed uptake and determines
what factors are required to meliorate the affective gaming domain. The
most widely used sensors available for affect detection are surveyed, and
an overview of different affect detection methods is given.
Subsequently, the design and development of a psychophysiological ac-
quisition device is described. The device focuses on the interactive and
functional qualities required for an affective gaming input device. Owing
to its novel design features, it was named the Shark-Fin mouse.
Three psychophysiological sensors are selected for their sensitivity to change
in emotional states and which are suitable to be applied to an input device.
The Shark-Fin mouse utilises electrodermal activity, blood volume (pulse)
and temperature. The mouse is designed to take advantage of 3D printing
technologies, to empower digital distribution and home-manufacturing.
As well as acquiring psychophysiological signals, the main premise of the
device was to be easily used, without set-up procedures, tapes, straps or
gels. In addition, a fully functional video game was developed to subject
the new input system to an active video game environment. The game
was designed to provoke mild levels of frustration. The game formed part
of an experiment to validate the functionality of the Shark-Fin mouse, as
both an input device and an affect acquisition tool. Along with game-state
variables, specific event-based data was recorded for analysis.
The thesis concludes with empirical analysis. We employed classifica-
tion techniques, to determine if any recognisable patterns within the psy-
chophysiological data exist, in correlation to the game-state data collected.
The final results determine that the Shark-Fin mouse offers a novel and
useful system for affect acquisition. Further, the psychophysiological sig-
nals are validated during active video game play sessions.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date30 Sep 2014