Determining the effect of stress on analytical skills performance in digital decision games towards an unobtrusive measure of experienced stress in gameplay scenarios

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Abstract

This study aims to develop an unobtrusive measure for experienced stress in a digital serious gaming environment involving decision making in crisis management, using only in-game measures in a digital decision game called the Mayor Game. Research has shown that stress has an influence on a decision-maker's behavior, and also on the learning experience in training scenarios. Being able to assess unobtrusively the level of stress experienced would allow manipulation of the game so as to improve the learning experience. An experiment was conducted with two conditions, one paced and one non-paced. In the paced condition, participants were exposed to in-game changes that aimed to induce stress by creating information overload, uncertainty and time pressure. While pacing caused differences between the conditions with respect to in-game performance for analytical skills, several simple unobtrusive in-game measures were not consistent enough to serve as indicators for experienced stress. Further, physiological measurements of stress did not show significant differences between the conditions, indicating that the employed methods to induce stress did not work sufficiently. These results call for testing of more sophisticated methodologies to unobtrusively assess experienced stress in the given type of serious game.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-155
Number of pages12
JournalComputers in human behavior
Volume99
Early online date16 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019

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