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The puzzle challenge analysis tool. A tool for analysing the cognitive challenge level of puzzles in video games

Pusey, M., Wong, K.W. and Rappa, N.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-3217-0296 (2021) The puzzle challenge analysis tool. A tool for analysing the cognitive challenge level of puzzles in video games. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 5 (CHI PLAY). pp. 1-27.

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Video games are often designed around puzzles and problem-solving, leading to challenging yet engaging experiences for players. However, it is hard to measure or compare the challenge level of puzzles in video games. This can make designing appropriately challenging puzzles problematic. This study collates previous work to present refined definitions for challenge and difficulty within the context of video games. We present the Puzzle Challenge Analysis tool which can be used to determine the best metrics for analysing the challenge level of puzzles within video games. Previous research has focused on measuring the difficulty of simple action video games, such as Pac-Man, which can be easily modified for research purposes. Existing methods to measure challenge or difficulty include measuring player brain activity, examining game features and player scores. However, some of these approaches cannot be applied to puzzles or puzzle games. For example, approaches relying on game scores will not work for puzzle games with no scoring system, where puzzles are either solved or not. This paper describes the design and development of the Puzzle Challenge Analysis tool using two case studies of commercial video games The Witness and Untitled Goose Game. The tool is also tested for generalisability on a third commercial puzzle video game, Baba Is You. This proposed tool can help game designers and researchers to objectively analyse and compare puzzle challenge and produce more in-depth insights into the player experience. This has implications for designing challenging and engaging games for a range of player abilities.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Creative Media, Arts and Design
Publisher: ACM Digital Library
Copyright: © 2021 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s).
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