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Putting the player in the picture; biofeedback and embodied affect

Palmer (nee Reiser), Michaela; Palmer, Mark


Mark Palmer
Senior Lecturer in Multimedia/Games Tech


The problem faced by those developing games, whether for entertainment or educational purposes, is how to create engaging and inclusive forms of participation. Interaction is a two-way process and whilst there are many ways of feeding information about a virtual space to a user, the same cannot be said in reverse. Virtual environments predominantly respond to information from controllers (or cumulative data provided by the game state) but not the user's affective states. This leads to a simplified and causal relationship, to the exclusion of aspects of human 'behaviour' that start sub-consciously, like affect and emotion. This paper investigates whether sonified biofeedback, provided by electrocardiogram and galvanic skin response sensors, could be used to create a greater sense of involvement in virtual spaces. A study explored whether sonic representations of participants' affective states would be successful at that. Participants said that listening to the biofeedback sounds allowed them to feel more involved, motivated and immersed in the virtual space, which was expressed by statements like 'feeling zoned into the game'. The reasons for this were not always apparent to participants, only becoming apparent afterwards when reflecting on the perceptions that precipitated these feelings. Players' responses thus may have been at an emotional level inasmuch they were liminal, rather than overtly conscious events. In summary, hearing one’s own affective reactions, sonified via biofeedback techniques, can greatly improve one's sense of being within that space. It is possible to move towards a more embodied experience of virtual spaces through the use of sound.


Palmer (nee Reiser), M., & Palmer, M. (2017, November). Putting the player in the picture; biofeedback and embodied affect. Paper presented at Sounding Out the Space

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Sounding Out the Space
Start Date Nov 2, 2017
End Date Nov 4, 2017
Acceptance Date Nov 3, 2017
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords biofeedback in games, affect, game audio
Related Public URLs
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Sounding Out the Space