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Is game immersion just another form of selective attention? An empirical investigation of real world dissociation in computer game immersion

Jennett, C.I.; (2010) Is game immersion just another form of selective attention? An empirical investigation of real world dissociation in computer game immersion. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

When your daughter is playing video-games and you call her to dinner but she fails to respond, do you assume she heard you and ignored you? Everyday descriptions of game immersion suggest that the real world dissociation experienced by gamers could be an extreme form of selective attention. If this were the case, this would mean that your daughter really did not hear you call, due to the complexity of the game environment and a lack of available cognitive resources. This thesis describes a grounded theory that suggests that immersion is a result of self-motivated attention which is enhanced through feedback from the game. Five experimental studies are then described. The experimental studies show that the extent to which a player thinks they are doing well in the game significantly affects their level of immersion, as measured via the Immersive Experience Questionnaire; and has objective effects on their awareness of other things in the environment, namely recall of auditory distracters and reaction time to a visual distracter. Together the evidence suggests that immersion cannot be accounted for solely by selective attention: much of the real world is attenuated during game-play due primarily to the gamer’s motivation to continue the immersive experience. Interestingly, the auditory items that do get through the attenuation filter and are heard by the gamer are those that are personal in some way; so if you used your daughter’s name when you called her, and she did not respond, then based on our findings one might suggest that she chose to ignore you in order to keep her sense of immersion. Additionally, the final experiment shows a dissociation between immersion and cognitive load. This suggests that the differences in immersion were not a result of increased sensory features or task demands, but purely due to motivation.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Is game immersion just another form of selective attention? An empirical investigation of real world dissociation in computer game immersion
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Psychology and Language Sciences (Division of) > UCL Interaction Centre

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