Physiological measures of the videogame play experience

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Daniel Johnson
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Videogame players experience deep levels of engagement and cognitive activity when playing. Understanding how to measure this experience (engagement, immersion and/or cognitive activity) will help in the design of more immersive virtual environments (both games and non-entertainment software such as that used for training) and will help us to understand the positive and negative impacts of playing videogames.A number of physiological measures are now affordable and applicable in this space:Functional Near-Infared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a measure of oxygen levels in the blood

  • Electroencephalography (EEG) is a measure of the electrical activity in the brain. EEG headsets such as the mindset headset ( offer the ability to access brain activity during videogame play
  • Heart rate sensors can be used to assess excitement and arousal
  • Galvanic skin response (GSR) sensors can also be used to assess arousal
  • Respiration rate sensors can be used to assess the rate of breathing
  • Electromyography can be used to measure muscle activation (including facial expressions)
  • Eyetrackers can be used to determine where players are looking on the screen

The project will explore the relative utility and validity of various physiological measures to measure the experience of play including mood, engagement and flow. The results of the project will include a better understanding of when and how games engage the player, the impact of play, how best to measure engagement and how to apply this knowledge in other domains (e.g., education and health).

Research activities

These would vary depending on the background and expertise of the students and also on the specific area of focus, but could include:

  • literature reviews of the existing research in the field
  • experiments designed to assess the impact of videogames
  • designing and developing videogames for use in research studies


Contributing to the understanding of:

  • player experience of videogames
  • cognitive activity during videogame play
  • psychophsyiological response to videogames

Skills and experience

The background of the student would inform which aspects of the project they would be invited to consider. However relevant skills include:

  • experience with literature review
  • experience with biometric sensors and equipment
  • experimental design and analysis


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.