Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme


Science and Engineering Faculty

School of Computer Science

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Daniel Johnson
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


Video game players experience deep levels of engagement and cognitive activity when playing. Understanding how to measure this experience (engagement, immersion and/or cognitive activity) will influence 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 video games.

A number of physiological measures are now affordable and applicable in this space:

  • Functional Near-Infared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) can measure oxygen levels in the blood.
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) can measure the electrical activity in the brain.
  • Heart rate sensors can assess excitement and arousal.
  • Galvanic skin response (GSR) sensors can assess arousal.
  • Respiration rate sensors can assess the rate of breathing.
  • Electromyography can measure muscle activation (including facial expressions).
  • Eye trackers can 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 video 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

The activities you'll undertake will vary depending on your background and expertise as well as your specific area of focus. This 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


You'll contribute to the understanding of:

  • player experience of video games
  • cognitive activity during video game play
  • psychophsyiological response to video games

Skills and experience

Your background will inform which aspects of the project you'll be invited to undertake. 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.