In the newest Gamasutra feature
on psychophysiology used for game testing, researcher Ben Lewis Evans examines the benefits of relying on psychophysiology to measure responses from gamers.
Psychophysiology is a branch of psychology dedicated to "studying the signals provided by the body in an attempt to gain insight and understanding into what psychological processes are underlying or related to those body signals".
Using this method, game testers and researchers can assess emotion, mental workload, and other useful reactions by interpreting data recorded from players through a variety of tests -- Electroencephalography (EEG), Electromyography (EMG), Electrodermal Activity (EDA), cardiovascular measurement, and others.
"Psychophysiological measures can be fully automated in terms of their recording, and can also be pretty much recorded continuously," Evans explains. "This means they can be directly related to gameplay events as they happen."
"This is quite a big advantage over many subjective measures that require you to either stop and start a play experience, add additional load to a gameplay experience, or wait until the end before you can collect data."
He also says one advantage psychophysiological studies have over traditional questionnaires is that they can "detect emotions or reactions in players that they themselves may not be aware are present (or detect them before they enter awareness)."
"This can be a great help, especially if players are having problems expressing exactly why they dislike or like a particular feature," Evans adds. He admits, though, that if players are unaware of these emotions, it's unclear if they can influence their behavior or enjoyment of games.
To read more about the advantages and disadvantages of game testing with psychophysiology, as well as an analysis of several different psychophysiological measures, read Gamasutra's full feature, Game Testing And Research: The Body And The Mind
, which is live now.