Physiological user research - Experiementation/Game
Master's project


Study the effects of frustration in a game on motivation, engagement and arousal on users.


Use and learn a complete methodology for capturing and analyzing signals from a commercial EEG headset (Emotiv Epoc) and, in a short time with a limited number of subjects, obtain results indicative of the users' state in different game sequences.



Planning and design

  • Literature review on emotions and cognition involving games and frustration, player types, on capture, processing and analysis of physiological signals and the detection of motivation, engagement and arousal
  • Plannification of the experiments based on known practices in the field in similar projects
  • Design and programming of two experiments in AS3

Users data collection

  • Preparations of 12 subjects for the execution of tasks and the capture of physiological signals
  • Execution of a pretest including a SAM test accompanied by images from the GAPED library to provoke cognitive and emotional states for a duration of 5 minutes
  • Execution of a high intensity game type experiment with variable difficulty levels and 4 conditions for a duration of 20 minutes
  • Collection of performance data through game metrics and physiological signals with an EEG headset
  • Survey presentations before and after the tests

Results analysis

  • Signal processing in EEGlab
  • Results' analysis in frequency bands with statistical support using repeated measures ANOVAs
  • Summary of the results and writing of a 70+ pages project report


Learning of the methodological aspects using an EEG headset in user research. Trends partly related to the hypotheses were detected, an increase of the engagement and the arousal during frustrating events in the game, but with a reduction in motivation, thus a withdrawal motivation. The number of subjects, the quality of the headset and the speed of the gameplay sequences proved to be contributing factors to the lack of statistical significance of the results.