Implementing Adaptive Game Difficulty Balancing in Serious Games

Maurice Hendrix, Tyrone Bellamy-Wood, Sam McKay, Victoria Bloom, Ian Dunwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The ability to engage and retain players is perceived as a major factor in the success of games. However, the end-goal of retention differs between entertainment and serious contexts. For an entertainment game, engagement and retention is linked to monetization; for a serious game, this needs to persist for as long as is required for learning or behavioural objectives to be met. User engagement is strongest when a balance is achieved between difficulty and skill, leading to a state of “flow”. Hence adapting difficulty could lead to increased and sustained engagement. Implementing this requires the identification of variables linked to mechanics, manipulated based upon a player performance model. In some cases, this is possible by adjusting simple properties of objects, though more comprehensive solutions require extending or adapting content applying procedural techniques. This paper proposes a six step plan, validated against two case studies: an existing serious game, with easily-manipulated parameters, and a platformer game built from scratch, where additional content is required, showing the process for different mechanics. To explore limitations, the results of two small-scale user evaluations with 45 users in total, are reported, contributing to the understanding of how adaptive difficulty might be implemented and received.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(in press)
JournalIEEE Transactions on Games
Volume(in press)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018

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Mechanics
Serious games

Bibliographical note

© 2018 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works.

Keywords

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Expert Systems
  • Games

Cite this

Implementing Adaptive Game Difficulty Balancing in Serious Games. / Hendrix, Maurice; Bellamy-Wood, Tyrone; McKay, Sam; Bloom, Victoria; Dunwell, Ian.

In: IEEE Transactions on Games, Vol. (in press), 15.01.2018, p. (in press).

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hendrix, Maurice ; Bellamy-Wood, Tyrone ; McKay, Sam ; Bloom, Victoria ; Dunwell, Ian. / Implementing Adaptive Game Difficulty Balancing in Serious Games. In: IEEE Transactions on Games. 2018 ; Vol. (in press). pp. (in press).
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