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IMMERSING YOUR SELF

Permanent Link: http://ncf.sobek.ufl.edu/NCFE004783/00001

Material Information

Title: IMMERSING YOUR SELF THE EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION OF AVATARS ON IMMERSION
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Hills, Zachary
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2013
Publication Date: 2013

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Computer Games
Immersion
Video Games
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Video games are increasingly an important part in today's culture which influences social and individual behavior. Today's modern video games are incredibly realistic, which can cause their players to feel immersed in the world of the game and become attached to in-game avatars. In this study, undergraduate college students were recruited and they played The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, an adventure game. Two conditions were used; the first was that the subjects were unable to customize what their in-game avatar looked like and the second was that they were able to customize their avatars. The study hypothesized that the participants who customized their avatars would report higher levels of immersion than the participants in the other condition. Based on the results of the Jennett survey, there was no significant difference between the two groups. The study suggests that this result is due to customization of an avatar in video games not being a factor in how much a player is immersed in the game.
Statement of Responsibility: by Zachary Hills
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2013
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO NCF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Graham, Steven

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2013 H6
System ID: NCFE004783:00001

Permanent Link: http://ncf.sobek.ufl.edu/NCFE004783/00001

Material Information

Title: IMMERSING YOUR SELF THE EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION OF AVATARS ON IMMERSION
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Hills, Zachary
Publisher: New College of Florida
Place of Publication: Sarasota, Fla.
Creation Date: 2013
Publication Date: 2013

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Computer Games
Immersion
Video Games
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Video games are increasingly an important part in today's culture which influences social and individual behavior. Today's modern video games are incredibly realistic, which can cause their players to feel immersed in the world of the game and become attached to in-game avatars. In this study, undergraduate college students were recruited and they played The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, an adventure game. Two conditions were used; the first was that the subjects were unable to customize what their in-game avatar looked like and the second was that they were able to customize their avatars. The study hypothesized that the participants who customized their avatars would report higher levels of immersion than the participants in the other condition. Based on the results of the Jennett survey, there was no significant difference between the two groups. The study suggests that this result is due to customization of an avatar in video games not being a factor in how much a player is immersed in the game.
Statement of Responsibility: by Zachary Hills
Thesis: Thesis (B.A.) -- New College of Florida, 2013
Electronic Access: RESTRICTED TO NCF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The New College of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Local: Faculty Sponsor: Graham, Steven

Record Information

Source Institution: New College of Florida
Holding Location: New College of Florida
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: local - S.T. 2013 H6
System ID: NCFE004783:00001


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IMMERSING YOUR SELF: THE EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION OF AVATARS ON IMMERSION BY ZACHARY HILLS A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirement of the degree Bachelor of Ar ts in Psychology Under the Sponsorship of Steven Graham Sarasota, Florida May, 2013

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION ii ii Acknowledgment I would like to thank Steven Graham, Ph.D. for his support through the thesis process, as On that note, I would like to thank all the members of my committee, Catherine Cottrell, Ph.D. and Heidi Harley, Ph.D. I would also like to thank Erin Robinson, Psy.D. for her kindness and support throughout my New College experience. I would like to tha nk Dr. Maribeth Clark for her guidance as my first advisor after being readmitted to New College. I would also like to thank Kimberly Nolting for all the help she gave in helping shape my jumbled thoughts into a coherent thesis I would like to thank my p arents, for supporting me all through New College, I owe all my success to you.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION iii iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page A Abstra Literature Search 6 Research on Negative and Positive Effects on Video Game Players Immersion and Other Psychological Constructs Interface with Video Game ______ Pla 9 Technology Development Effects on the Immer sion Experience of Video ______ Game Play Measures of Immersion Methods Materials Procedur Results Discussi Conclusion

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION iv iv Abstract Video games are increasingly an important which influences social and individual behavior which can cause their players to feel immersed in the world of the ga me and become atta ched to in game avatars. In this study, undergraduate college students were recruited and they play ed The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, an adventure game. Two conditions were used; the first was that the subjects were unable to customize what their in game avat ar looked like and the second was that they were able to customize their avatars. The study hypothesized that the participants who customized their avatars would report higher levels of immersion than the participants in the other condition. Based on the r esults of the Jennett survey, there was no significant difference between the two groups. The study suggests that this result is due to customization of an avatar in video games not being a factor in how much a player is immersed in the game. Dr. Steven Graham

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 5 5 Introduction Video games have evolved from a fringe hobby of the socially challenged to an accepted part of modern culture. People play them solo for fun, to bond with others, or to even as training, such as military or driving simulators. How ever, there is a negative stigma attached to video games by the media. Video games are blamed for anti social behavior, increased violence and poor physical health. There is some evidence that this is the case from the field of psychology, but positive eff ects have been shown as well. These clashing results suggest that we do not know enough about what it is about video games that cause positive and negative effects on the players. Video games have increased massively in popularity over the last decade. Acc ording to reports from the Entertainment Software Association, video games made 9.5 billion in 2007, 11.7 billion in 2008, and 25.1 in 2010, and these figures are expected to keep increasing. Furthermore, a survey by the NPD Group in 2011 found that 91 per cent of children between the ages of 2 and 17 play video games, which is an increase by 9 points since 2009. The majority of people who play video games are actually adults. A study by the Entertainment Software Association found that 68% of people who pla y video games are 18 and older, and 37% of all people who play video games are over the age of 36. Currently, three decades of Americans can say that they grew up with video games and the technology that drives these games increases in power in an exponent ial rate. With the omnipresence of video games in our lives, it is imperative that research is conducted on their effects on people who play them.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 6 6 Literature Search Psychologists have conducted numerous experiments on the effects of video games, and comi ng up with many different results, both supporting and opposing the idea that video games cause negative behaviors and tendencies. This may be due in part to the different methodologies and subjects used, so we must look at the overall picture to get a cle arer picture as to the effects of video games on its players. Many of the negative and positive effects are related to such psychological constructs as immersion. Along with immersion, researchers have studied addiction in relation to video games, as wel l as how video games change the way its players understand themselves. These studies are importan t because technology is rapidly making games feel more and more realistic, which increases the psychological effects it has on its players. Finally, it is imp ortant for researchers to construct measure s of immersion in order to determine what aspects of video games are most conducive for immersion. Research on Negative and Positive Effects on Video Game Players An article by Bartlett (2009) looked at the co mbined evidence on the effects that video games have on the people who play them, including both positive and negative nk video game playing with increased levels of aggression and anti social tendencies. The media often demonizes video games as bastions of negative affect, and there are some studies that support this viewpo int. One such study by Weigman and van Schie in 1 998 showed that high levels of exposure to

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 7 7 violent video games were related to lower levels of prosocial behavior. Another study by violent video game took longer to help a violence victim that those who had just played a non Role playing games are games that which the character and the story are a result internalizing the characteristics of the characters in the games with their own characters in real life, which the article calls character attachment. In order to create a measure for character attachment, an article by Lewis, Weber, and Bowman (2008) defines it as gs of (a) friendship and (b) identification with a video game character when an individual (c) is willing to suspend disbelief, (d) feels responsible for the game character, e using items from each of the five parts of the definition of character attachment. This measure was given to participants that were collected at either one of two colleges in the United States, or from video game forums. In the results, if character atta chment is a valid measure, then there should be a positive relationship between character attachment and a the RPG genre, RPG characteristic motivations for playing enjoyment, time spent playing, game addiction and self results. Therefore, the scale presented by this article is a reliable measure of character attachment. Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playin g Games (MMORPGs) are known for attracting gamers to play them for much longer periods of time then most games because

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 8 8 gamers are attracted to the MMORPGs ability to allow them to customize their characters, go on adventures while still fulfilling social g oals. This has also lead it to cause some of its players to form unhealthy tendencies, so psychologists have tried to use self discrep a ncy theo ry to explain why. Self discrepa ncy theory states that because MMORPGs allow you to create your character to be w hatever you want, this causes the gap between your actual self and your ideal self to increase and cause depression. This was tested in a study by Li, Liau and Khoo (2011) that measured the gap between actual self and their ideal self was using the Self At tribute Statement Scale, as well as motivations for escapism, pathological game use, and depression. The results showed that ip between actual ideal discrepa ncies and escapism, and escapism in turn mediated the relationsh ip between depression and pathological ideal gap and depression also had a high tendency for escapism and pathological game playing, and escapism was the best predictor of pathological game playing. This indicates that pathological game playing is a coping method for people trying to avoid depression caused by the gap in between their actual and ideal selves. An article by Caplan, Williams and Yee (2009) looks into the highly discussed topic of problematic Internet use. The most stable conclusion that has been reached is that use (PIU) in pla related variables predict PIU levels after controlling for the influence of psychosocial well

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 9 9 he strongest variable of a MMO in predicting PIU, followed by the number of hours the subject played the MMO, which is in line with other studies. as problematic Internet use, p athological Internet use and Internet addiction have been drugs is still controversial. This article by Charlton and Danforth (2007) asked players of an MMORPG that p layed for approximately 18.64 hours per week and gave them a n Addiction Engagement questionnaire. The results showed that people who were addicted players. Immersion and Other Psycho logical Constructs Interface with Video Game Play So what is it about video games that attract people to play them? An article by imagine or visualize their next move in symbolic/abstract processing layers of our brains in a short time, or a set of intermediate states that allow for a smooth and efficient transition between the abstract/intellectual and sensual a sense of immersion, which play upon the players five senses to get them to feel that they are connected to the game

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 10 10 the player to stop using their reasoning to understand the game and begin to utilize their simultaneous and well matched visual, auditory and kinesthetic input and output should be encouraged. Finally, the fifth rule is that once the playe r is immersed, the game should try to prevent the player from losing their immersion in the game. enjoyment of the game, as well as making the player feel as if they were a part of the game world. This is because when a player is immersed in a computer game, they forget that they are sitting down and physically playing the game, but feel that they are a part of the game itself. However, immersion is not the only factor that explai ns why people find games memorable. This is because in order to maintain immersion, the player cannot be Assuming this is true, immersion cannot explain why we find som e games that use pop culture references to things outside the game, and games that utilize split screen technology memorable. In order to explain this, the concept of engagement is offered. This article by Lankoski postulates that there are two different types of engagement: goal related engagement and empathetic engagement. Goal related engagement looks at how our goals, affects and relations interact with the video game, and empathetic engagement utilizes the concepts of recognition, alignment and alleg

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 11 11 play video games? Do video games bestow some sort of therapeutic benefit to players? Research in other areas of psychology has discovered th at when hard work is put into the effort to receive a reward, the enjoyment you gain from that reward is much higher than if you were just given the reward for no effort on your part. This applies to video games as well, as players are often challenged to reach a far off goal such as defeating a great evil after a long quest. One piece of the literature that talks about this is an article by and or player that makes this wo hard work to reach a goal, it legitimizes their time, and makes the end rewards feel more deserved, and thus, more enjoyable. or a virtual representation of yourself, and can frequently change their appearance. This article by Trepte and Reinecke (2010) postulates that the competitiveness of a video game and the life satisfaction of its players have an effect on how much a player enjoys the game. The article hypothesizes that that players of noncompetitive games and players with high amounts of life satisfaction will have their avatars appear similar to how the players appear in real life. The article also postulates that players with avatars that appear similar to themselves in real life will identify with them. Furthermore, identifying with your avatar is positively related to game enjoyment. For the study, participants took a survey that measured their personality profil e as well as the personality profile of their video game avatars. The survey also asked if the players identified with their avatars, how much they enjoy playing the game that has the avatar in it, and their life satisfaction.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 12 12 The results supported the hyp and that a high similarity between player and avatar was positively related with increased identification w ith the avatar, and that identification was positively related to enjoyment. One idea that has been hypothesized is that there is a correlation between identifying with your avatar and video game addiction. This possible correlation was researching in an a rticle by Smahel, Blinka and Ledabyl (2008). Addiction to video games, mainly MMORPGs, is something that is often discussed in cyberpsychology, and identifying which players are most susceptible to it is an important thing to understand. A number of criter ia have already been identified, such as salience, or how important playing the video game is to a person, mood changes, tolerance (how long a person needs to play a video game to be satisfied), withdrawal symptoms, and relapse, although these criteria are not specifically identifiers of video game interaction, but more generalized. detaile d in the article, a questionnaire was given to players of popular MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft and Everquest, which asked questions on potential video game addiction as well a section questioning the player about their relationship to their in game ch aracter. The results showed that player identification was much higher for people 27 years and older, and that player identification was significantly positively related to their scores of video game addiction. Additionally, people that said they were asha med of their in game avatars also had high scores of video game addiction. This could indicate that a player that is addicted to a video game identifies more with their in game character means

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 13 13 that they want to exchange characteristics with them, which may explain why they are more likely to feel negative emotions. he perception of oneself that is developed through interaction with Previously, it had been used with television and how television characters affect our social self, b ut video games are different because you actually interact with video game difference is that video games are typically more violent than television, and more portable as well. Should we apply the idea of the social self to video game characters, people who play video games should slowly begin to assume the characteristics of the characters in the video game. In an article by McDonald and Kim (2001), teachers distributed surveys to schoolchildren which asked them about how what video games they played and how often they played it. They then asked them about their most commonly played game and asked them to describe the character they played in the videogame. Finally, they asked the schoolchildren for a brief self description and asked themselves if they could be anything they wanted. The results indicated that children important i mplications for their emotional well being as well as for the development of assimilating characteristics of video game characters, as well as modify their own

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 14 14 personalit y based on their interactions with them for years after their first interactions with the video games. People will actually mimic the characteristics of the characters in video games if they identify with the character. This is usually seen with modern vid eo games that they tell their stories to the player in an interactive fashion and the players get individual perspective into the world of the game. When a player identifies with an on screen or herself being that character an d replaces his or her personal identity and role as an audience member with the identity and role of the r will cause implicit order to test this, the study recruited participants and had them play one of two different games: one of them being a military shooter, and th e other one being a racing game. After they played the game for 20 minutes, they were given an implicit association test where words related to the games they were playing were used. The results from the implicit association task supported the hypothesis. One reason that people give for why they spend so much time playing video games is because it allows them to assume virtual identities and act out situations that e actual self, which is the characteristics of the person, and the ideal self, which is the characteristics they want to have. There is another concept, game self, which is how individuals experience themselves when playing video games. Video games allow t he person to assume the characteristics of their ideal self, at least for a while. An article by

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 15 15 Przybylski et al. (2012) looked at the relationship between these three concepts. The experimenters gave 144 undergraduate participants a questionnaire that as sessed their game self characteristics, motivation to play video games, and affect.. The results indicated that the experience of ideal self characteristics during play was associated with a greater desire to play video games. The studies also found that p eople enjoyed the games that made them feel that their game self was similar to their ideal self, which is similar to the results from the studies that investigated identifying with the video game avatars. When people play video games, especially MMORPGs, they put in a lot of time Seay and Kiesler (2007), it is predicted that people who create avatars in games create them based on their real world body. However, beca use of the fantastical nature of video Knowing this, the study hypothesizes that people that are dissatisfied with some aspect of e who are content with the way they are to engage in virtual self enhancement through their character. In order to test this, the hypothesis for the study detailed in this article states that players of World of Warcraft create characters that have aspects of both their actual selves and their real selves, so a person who is dissatisfied with their real life aspects would have a larger character discrepancy, or the difference between a players real and actual selves, then a person who is satisfied with thei r actual self. The experimenters gathered a group of World of Warcraft players and asked them to rate both themselves and their in game character with the Big Five Personality Inventory, in addition to the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 16 16 Scale being. The results indicated that the participants rated their in game character to be more conscientious, extraverted and well neurotic then they were in real life. Also, these trends were observed most frequently in people who were either depressed or had lower self esteem. Technology Development Effects on the Immersion Experience of Video Game Play Video games can offer therapeutic properties because of its ability to induce a state of heightened im mersion. Heightened immersion has been used as treatment and unhealthy behavio assigned subjects to one of four conditions: high immersion while playing a game, high immersion while watching someone else play a game, low immersion while playing a game and low immersion whil e watching someone else play a game. To cause low immersion, the subjects used a basic TV, while the subjects in the high immersion condition used surround sound HD goggles. Each subject watched or played for 30 minutes, and then they answered a questionna ire with a modified Lombard presence inventory to see if they would report higher levels of immersion then non gamers. The results showed that gamers had higher levels of immersion then non gamers, which lends support that video games can be used in treat ment therapies as they can cause heightened immersion.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 17 17 Enjoying a video game has been shown to also be due in part to the controllers you use to play the game. Video games require controllers, and makers of video games try to make using their controllers t o feel natural as uncomfortable controllers can make for an unpleasant experience. For this study by Skalski et al. (2011), two groups of undergraduate students played Tiger Woods PGA Tour 0 7, but one group used a Wiimote, a rectanglar controller which tra cks the players hand and arm movements which allows the players to control games with their movements, and played the game by moving their body as if they were actually hitting a gold ball in real life, while the other used a standard Playstation controlle r. The results showed that using the Wiimote was felt more spatial presence (define spatial presence) with the video game. These results indicate that the naturalness of the video game controller has an effect on spatial presence, but does not indicate that spatial presence is related to enjoyment of playing the game. Immersion can be impacted by gameplay as well. An article by Qin, Rau and Salvendi (2010) showed that c hanges in difficulty can change how immersed a player is in the game. This makes sense, as a game that starts of extremely difficult and gradually way that a gradual inc rease in difficulty does. The results showed that this slow progression of difficulty was the best order in fostering immersion. The accessibility of video games to the general public is both a strength and a weakness. Although people can easily download a ny game they might want to play, it can be a weakness for the companies that make video games as dissatisfied consumers can

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 18 18 their consumers from switching games is to make th eir products more immersive. An article by Teng (2010) looked to see if immersion can be used by companies to improve their retention rate. Immersion is when the players connect with their in game avatar, e acting out their fantasies within the immersion satisfaction, and that immersion satisfaction is related to gamer loyalty. The study gathered participants from various gaming websites, and asked them demographic information, their favorite games, their immersion satisfaction, and how much time and money they put into those games. The results indicated that there was a relationship between customization and immersion satisfacti on, and there was a positive correlation between immersion satisfaction and gamer loyalty, which supported their hypotheses. This shows that video games that allow for customization of their avatars can improve both their rates of consumer loyalty via thei Measuring Immersion in Video Game Play Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games are a special breed of video game, as they offer unique experiences that can be shared with other people. Some of the bigg er and more well known MMORPGs are World of Warcraft and Everquest, where together.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 19 19 Measures of Immersion When researchers ask people why they play Massively Multip layer Online Role Playing Games, they give a wide variety of responses. Some responses that they gave is that they were attracted by the group mentality of these sorts of games, as well as the opportunity to connect with people that they would not have the opportunity to do so in real life. This article by Yee (2006) suggests this is because MMORPGs provide the player with the opportunity to try a large selection of different play styles. In order to determine what motivates a player to play MMORPGs, the st udy introduces us to a new which were based on a previous measure of video game personalities that had never been tested, and qualitative questions based on interview s with MMORPG players. The results showed that the scale had a Cronbachs alpha of 0.77, which shows that the internal consistency is rather good. This scale should prove useful in understanding player motivations in future research. Identification with a f ictional character is an idea that has been known to psychologists for a while as one of the reasons for the socializing effects of television, but only recently has this idea been associated with video games. However, a scale that could accurately measure the amount a person identifies with a fictional character has yet to be made. In the study detailed in this article, the experimenters gathered players of World of Warcraft, a MMORPG, as participants for their study. In a study by Van Looy (2012), it is h ypothesized that avatar identification should be positively linked with the desire to customize the appearance of the character and to escape reality by using the game to

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 20 20 de signed to measure identification, then two weeks later they took another survey that measured gamer motivations. The results showed that the measures they created to measure player identification are supported by convergent validity and that avatar identif tendency to use the game to escape the problems of real life. The purpose of this article by Jennett was to create a measure designed to evaluate the immersion of players of video gamers. This measure was created with the In the experiment detailed in the article, participants were asked to do one of two things: a simple button pressing activity, or play the opening sequence of Half Life a PC game. However, they first performed a tangram puzzle in order to get the participant to focus on the real world before given the task in their condition. After this was completed, they took a survey that measured their level of immersion. This survey of immersion that scores of immers ion were higher when they were in the condition where they played Half Life, 69.6 to 52.5. The standard deviation of these scores 18.2 and 17.2. These results support the hypothesis that players of Half Life would self report higher scores of immersion tha n the participants who had the button pressing task. The questionnaire that was used to measure immersion is composed of six sections. The first three sections were focused on how engrossed the payer was in the video game. These consist of basic attentio n (e.g. To what extent did you feel you were

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 21 21 focused on the game?), temporal dissociation (e.g. To what extent did you lose track of time?), and transportation (e.g. To what extent was your sense of being in the game environment stronger than your sense of being in the real world?). The next three sections were based on how the player felt while immersed in the game. These consisted of the challenge the game presented (did you find the task too difficult?), their emotional involvement (did you care if you w on or lost?), and how much fun they had while playing (did you like the task?). For the current study I plan to use a two condition design to test whether game. I expe ct to find that participants in the condition where they customize their own avatar report a greater level of immersion then those in the condition where they played with a pre customized avatar Methods Participants Participants were collected from a s mall liberal arts college in southwestern Florida. 16 participants were female, and 9 were male (Total N = 25, F = 16, M = 9). Participants were recruited via a post on the community online forum, posters that were put up around the student union and face to face recruitment in the student union by the experimenter. The participants were recruited in person by an experimenter occurred between 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. for lunch. I chose this time because I believed people

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 22 22 would be more willing to participate if the experimenter asked them while they were eating lunch on their break. The script that was used to recruit participants on the student forum was as follows: Hey forum, I'm doing a psychological experiment and I'm looking for volunteers. It should ta ke about 30 minutes, but the good news is you get to play video games AND get paid with a $2 bill! What could be better! Just e mail me back if you're interested and I'll get a time set up for you! Thanks everyone! Materials The video game that the pa rticipants played in this experiment was The Elder Scroll 5: Skyrim. This video game is an open world adventure game set in a fictional world with a medieval theme. I used The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim as the video game to be used to incite immersion because the intro sequence was engrossing enough that participants would feel like they were a part of the story. The first 30 minutes of Skyrim has the player taken prisoner, escape a dragon attack and fight their way through a burning military stockade in an op en world setting. The game allows the player the freedom to choose their paths as well as how they approach combat situations. After the

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 23 23 player completes the introduction sequence, they are free to explore the game world, a 16 square mile map. However, the y are only free to explore the game world after they escape the dragon attack. This gives the player the motivation to escape the attack to they can see the rest of the world, which should cause the player to feel attached to their characters and cause the m to become immersed in the game world. It is because of this that I felt that Skyrim would be able to make the participants to feel immersed in the game. The scale that I will be using to measure immersion is Immersion in Video Games S cale by Jennett et a l. 2008. This questionnaire is composed of six sections. The first three sections were focused on how engrossed the payer was in the video game. These consist of basic attention (e.g. To what extent did you feel you were focused on the game?), temporal d issociation (e.g. To what extent did you lose track of time?), and transportation (e.g. To what extent was your sense of being in the game environment stronger than your sense of being in the real world?). The next three sections were based on how the play er felt while immersed in the game. These consisted of the challenge the game presented (did you find the task too difficult?), their emotional involvement (did you care if you won or lost?), and how much fun they had while playing (did you like the task?) The participants responded to these questions though a 5 point Likert scale, from 1 (Not at all) to 5 (A lot). For the current study I used a two condition design to test whether customization aying a video game. I expect ed to find that participants in the condition where they customize their own avatar

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 24 24 report a greater level of immersion then those in the condition where they played with a pre customized avatar. Procedure Participants were re cruited via the New College online forum, from in person recruitment in the student union, and via posters that were put up around campus. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two player groups. The first group (Customized Group) members custo mized what their in game avatars looked like in the course of playing the game. The second group (Non customized group) played the exact same game as the other Customized Group, but were never given the opportunity to customize their avatars. Once a part icipant reached the lab, they filled out an IRB Written Informed Consent form which detailed the risks and incentives of the experiment. Upon signing the consent form, the participant is told to play a game (The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim). The participant wa s told that the game will instruct him or her how to control it, and that an experimenter will be in the room next door if there were any questions. The experimenter then left the room. After 30 minutes, the experiment entered the room and informed the par ticipant that time on the game was over. The game was turned off and the participant was given a paper survey with the Immersion in Video Games Scale by Jennett et al. 2008 scale. When the participant returned the completed survey the experimenters thanked the participant for his/her time, debriefed them on the nature of the experiment. Each participant was given a writing utensil and a two dollar bill. Afterwards, survey

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 25 25 answers were copied into an Excel document for later statistical analysis. A t test wa s then used to analyze the two performances as well as the independent variables Results The mean immersion level for the Customized Avatar group was 3.3174 out of a 5 point Likert scale with a standard deviat ion of .43009. The mean immersion level for Non customized group in was 3.3028 out of a 5 point Likert scale with a standard deviation of .48049. The high standard deviation indicated that the individual A t test revealed that this difference was not statistically significant, t(24) = .082, p = .935. Table 1: Mean, Standard Deviation, and Standard Error of Mean Comparison of Non customized and Customized Groups Level of Immersion N = Non customized gr oup Y = Customized group N Mean S.D. Immersion N 14 3.3147 .43009 Y 12 3.3028 .48049 The mean immersion level for female participants was 3.2257 out of a 5 point Likert scale with a standard deviation of .46610. The mean level for male participants w as 3.5086 out of a 5 point Likert scale with a standard deviation of .36072. The high

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 26 26 the mean. A t test revealed that this difference was not statistically signif icant, t( 23) = 1.570, p = .130. Table 2: Mean, Standard Deviation, and Standard Error of Mean Comparison of Gender F = Female M = Male N Mean S.D. Immersion F 16 3.2257 .46610 M 9 3.5086 .36072 The mean level of immersion for participants who had not played Skyrim before was 3.2444 out of a 5 point Likert scale with a standard deviation of .51256. The mean level of immersion for participants who had played Skyrim before was 3.2402 out of a 5 point Likert scale with a standard deviation of .28090 The high standard deviation A t test revealed that this difference was not statistically significant, t(19) = .021, p = .983. Table 3: Mean, Standard Deviation, and Sta ndard Error of Mean Comparison of Whether Participants Played Skyrim Before the Experiment N = Did not play Skyrim Y = Did play Skyrim N Mean S.D. Immersion N 13 3.2444 .51256 Y 18 3.2402 .28090

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 27 27 Discussion The results of this experiment showed no sig nificant difference between the had an opportunity to customize their avatar self reported similar levels of immersion as rs. There are three possible reasons for no significance between those who designed their own avatars and those who were not given the opportunity. However, t here was no significant difference between the two groups, but above average levels of immersion w ere reported The mean immersion level for the participants that were in the condition where they got to customize their avatar was 3.3174, with a standard deviation of .43009. The mean immersion level for participants in the condition where they were not given an opportunity to customize their avatar was 3.3028, with a standard deviation of .48049. This shows that there was no significant difference between the two conditions. One limitation that could have affected the lack of difference in t he reported levels of immersion between groups was that the experiment did not design a context in which the players were able to be immersed in the game. Firstly, 30 minutes of playtime may not have provided enough time to cause the players to feel attached to their avatars, minimizing the opportunity for immersion. Secondly, some of the participants had already played the game before they came to the experiment, and knowing how the story progressed could have prevented them from becoming immersed in the game. Thirdl y if the participant already played Skyrim before they participated in the experiment and were in the group where they were not given the opportunity to customize their avatar, they would be aware of this and would be able to make an educated guess as t o what the

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 28 28 experiment was about. This could have cause d an unwanted effect in their answers on the immersion questionnaire. The number of participants collected did not provide enough raw data scores to produce reliable means and standard deviations, and th erefore limiting research conclusions In addition, the higher percentage of female to male players could have biased the results. However, I do believe that this experiment, if done again could yield significant results. I believe that with more participa nts, and over a longer period of time, as well as ensuring that it was the participants first time playing Skyrim, would provide evidence for the effect of immersion on customization. Another change that I believe would be beneficial would be to do an exit interview in person in addition to a survey A personal interview could add qualitative data that might clarify issues that would have been left inconclusive. W hen people are immersed in video games they often feel a personal attachment to the video game s and the depth of their immersion may not be fully captured by a 5 point Likert scale survey. It would also help to clear up any points of confusion, such as if the participants understood the questions in the Immersion in V ideo Games Scale Two participan ts in the experiment wrote on the survey abo ut questions that confused them To what extent did you notice events taking place around you? to which the participa nothing happening around me At the end of the experiment, I asked the participant what she meant by what she wrote, and she said that because there were no events happening around her. Both participants were unsure about how to answ er the question. Having an

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 29 29 in person interview would help experiment confusion, as it could mean that they were aware of their surroundings because they noticed that nothing was happening around them, or that th ey were n o t aware of their surroundings, because their attention was focused on the game and they would n o t have noticed events in the real world (assuming there was an event happening around the participant while they were immersed in the game). Conclusi on E ven though a significant result was not found from the data, I have no reason to believe that this is indicative of a problem with the hypothesis. Rather, the results are due to the small pool of partic i pants, and that many of the participants had play ed Skyrim previously. If this experiment was to be repeated, there are a few adjustments that I would suggest. First would be to have an exit interview with the participant in order to get a description of their immersive experience with the video game. An interview would be more accurate in portraying how the participant felt while playing than the measures that were used. Secondly, next time this experiment is conducted a wider range of participant type s should be gathered including age groups This woul d not only be useful in making the results more generalizable due to the larger pool of participants, but would also allow for m ore detailed statistical analyse s, such as differences in the level of Despite these drawbacks with the current experiment, the data did indicate that the participants were immersed in the game, regardless of the condition. In fact, the htly higher levels

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 30 30 of immersion, although by an insignificant degree. I believe that this indicates that customization of an avatar had no effect on how immersed the participants were. In addition since only one video game was played by the participants i n this experiment, I cannot say whether the inability of customization of an avatar to have a significant effect on immersion is a trait common to all video games, or is limited only to Skyrim and games of a similar genre. Research into immersion is impor tant to a number of groups, most prominently the game developers. Previous research on immersion has been shown to be closely linked to enjoyment, so game designers are particularly interested in the concept. Immersive games lead to repeat gamers, so many games are designed specifically with hooks to immerse the gamer. Immersion in video games is important to study because as the technology that powers v ideo games improves, and as the video games are increa singly accepted in modern culture as an acceptable custom, the effects that they have on their players will only increase in severity, for better or worse. Video games are used in warfare, when pilots manning drones thousands of miles away via a computer terminal. The only difference between players in a Call of Duty game on their home entertainment console and a drone pilot engaging in real battle from the safety of their computer console thousands of miles away is that the drone pilot What kind of psychological ef fects are these drone pilots experiencing? How can we measure the impact of ordering drones to kill people on the other side of the globe? This is why the research that we are conducting on immersion in video games is almost assuredly going to be invaluabl e now and in the years ahead.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 31 31 References Barlett, C. P., Anderson, C. A., & Swing, E. L. (2009). Video game effects c onfirmed, suspected, and speculative: A review of the evidence. Simulation & Gaming, 40 (3), 377 403. doi:10.1177/1046878108327539 Bessire K., Seay, A., & Kiesler, S. (2007). The ideal elf: Identity exploration in world ______ of warcraft. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 10 (4), 530 535. ______ doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.9994 Caplan, S., Williams, D., & Yee, N. (2009). Problematic internet use and psych osocial ______ well being among MMO players. Computers i n Human Behavior, 25 (6), 1312 ______ 1319. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2009.06.006 Charlton, J. P., & Danforth, I. W. (2007). Distinguishing addiction and high engagement ______ in the context of online game playi ng. Computers in Human Behavior, 23 (3), ______ 1531 1548. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2005.07.002 Consalvo, M., Alley, T., Dutton, N., Falk, M., Fisher, H., Harper, T., & Yulish, A. ______ ___ ___ film, television, and MMOGs. Games And Culture: A Journal Of Interactive ______ Media, 5 (4), 381 402. doi:10.1177/1555412009360413 Gackenbach, J., Rosie, M., Bown, J., & Sample, T. (2011). Dream incorporation of ______ video game play as a function of int eractivity and fidelity. Dreaming, 21 (1), 32 ______ 50. doi:10.1037/a0022868 Kaveh, B. (2010, March 10). A Fresh Look at the Concept of Immersion. Retrieved ______ January 24, 2013, from Game Design Ideas website:

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 32 32 ______ http://www.gamedesignideas.com/video g ames/ a fresh look at the concept of ______ immersion.html Klimmt, C., Hefner, D., Vorderer, P., Roth, C., & Blake, C. (2010). Identification with ______ video game characters as automatic shift of self perceptions. Media Psychology, ______ 13 (4), 323 338. do i:10.1080/15213269.2010.524911 Lankoski, P. (2011). Player character engagement in computer games. Games And ______ Culture: A Journal Of Interactive Media, 6 (4), 291 311. ______ doi:10.1177/1555412010391088 Lewis, M. L., Weber, R., & Bowman, N. (2008). 'The y may be pixels, but they're my ______ pixels:' Developing a metric of character attachment in role playing video games. ______ Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11 (4), 515 518. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.0137 Li, D., Liau, A., & Khoo, A. (2011). Examining the influence of actual ideal self ______ discrepancies, depression, and escapism, on pathological gaming among ______ massively multiplayer online adolescent games. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, And ______ Social Networking, 14 (9), 535 539. doi:10.1089/cyber.2010.0463 McDon ald, D. G., & Kim, H. (2001). When I die, I feel small: Electronic game characters ______ and the social self. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 45 (2), 241 258. ______ doi:10.1207/s15506878jobem4502_3 Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., Murayama, K., Lynch, M. F., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). ______ The ideal self at play: The appeal of video games that let you be all you can be. ______ Psychological Science, 23 (1), 69 76. doi:10.1177/0956797611418676

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 33 33 Qin, H., Rau, P., & Salvendy, G. (2010). Effects of differe nt scenarios of game difficulty ______ on player immersion. Interacting With Computers, 22 (3), 230 239. ______ doi:10.1016/j.intcom.2009.12.004 Skalski, P., Tamborini, R., Shelton, A., Buncher, M., & Lindmark, P. (2011). Mapping ______ the road to fun: Natura l video game controllers, presence, and game enjoyment. ______ New Media & Society, 13 (2), 224 242. doi:10.1177/1461444810370949 Smahel, D., Blinka, L., & Ledabyl, O. (2008). Playing MMORPGs: Connections between ______ addiction and identifying with a charac ter. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11 (6), ______ 715 718. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.0210 Teng, C. (2010). Customization, immersion satisfaction, and online gamer loyalty. ______ Computers In Human Behavior, 26 (6), 1547 1554. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.05.029 Trepte, S. & Reinecke, L. (2010). Avatar creation and video game enjoyment: Effects of ______ life satisfaction, game competitiveness, and identification with the avatar. Journal ______ Of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods, And Applications, 22 (4), 171 184. ______ d oi:10.1027/1864 1105/a000022 Van Looy, J., Courtois, C., De Vocht, M., & De Marez, L. (2012). Player identification in ______ online games: Validation of a scale for measuring identification in MMOGs. ______ Media Psychology, 15 (2), 197 221. doi:10.1080/1521 3269.2012.674917 Villani, D., Gatti, E., Confalonieri, E., & Riva, G. (2012). Am I my avatar? A tool to ______ investigate virtual body image representation in adolescence. Cyberpsychology, ______ Behavior, And Social Networking, 15 (8), 435 440. doi:10.1089/ cyber.2012.0057 Yee, N. (2007). Motivations of Play in Online Games. Journal of CyberPsychology and ______ Behavior, 9 772 775

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 34 34 Appendix A Excluded a 1 3.8 Total 26 100.0 a. Listwise deletion based on all variables in the procedure. Case Processing Sum mary N % Cases Valid 25 96.2 Reliability Statistics Cronbach's Alpha N of Items .898 45 Group Statistics customize N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean immersion dimension1 0 14 3.3174 .43009 .11495 1 12 3.3028 .48049 .13870 Group Stati stics sex N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean immersion 0 16 3.2257 .46610 .11652 1 9 3.5086 .36072 .12024

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 35 35 Group Statistics playedbefore N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean immersion dimension1 0 13 3.2444 .51256 .14216 1 8 3.2402 .28090 .09931

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 36 36 Appendix B Your Personal Experience of the Game interrupted. SD = Strongly Disagree; D = Disagree; N = Neutral; A = Agree; SA = Strongly Agree I felt that I really empathized/felt for the game. SD D N A SA I did not feel any emotional attachment to the game. SD D N A SA SD D N A SA It did not interest me to know what would happen next in the game. SD D N A SA I was in suspense about whether I would win or lose the game. SD D N A SA I was not concer ned about whether I would win or lose the game.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 37 37 SD D N A SA I sometimes felt myself to become so involved with the game that I wanted to speak to the game directly. SD D N A SA I did not find myself so caught up with the game that I wanted to speak directly to the game. SD D N A SA I enjoyed the graphics and imagery of the game. SD D N A SA I enjoyed the game. SD D N A SA Playing the game was not fun. SD D N A SA The controls were not easy to pick up. SD D N A SA There were not any particularly frustrating aspects of the controls to get the hang of.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 38 38 SD D N A SA I became unaware that I was even using any controls. SD D N A SA The controls were not invisible to me. SD D N A SA I felt myself to be traveling directly through the game according to my own volition. SD D N A SA I did not feel as if I was moving through the game according to my own will. SD D N A SA It was if I could interact with the world of the game as if I was in the real world. SD D N A SA Interacting with the world of the game did not feel as real to me as it would be in the real world. SD D N A SA I was unaware of what was happening around me. SD D N A SA

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 39 39 I was aware of my surroundings. SD D N A SA I felt detached from the outside world. SD D N A SA I still felt attached to the real world. SD D N A SA At the time the game was my only concern. SD D N A SA Everyday thoughts and concerns were still very much on my mind. SD D N A SA I did not feel the urge at any point to stop playi ng and see what was going on around me. SD D N A SA I was interested to know what might be happening around me. SD D N A SA I did not feel that I was in the real world but the game world.

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 40 40 SD D N A SA I still felt as if I was in the real world while playing. SD D N A SA To me it felt like only a very short amount of time had passed. SD D N A SA When playing the game time appeared to go by very slowly. SD D N A SA How immersed did you feel? SD D N A SA Your Experience of the Game Please answer the following questions by circling the relevant number. In particu lar, remember that these questions are asking you about how you felt at the end of the game. To what extent did the game hold your attention? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you feel you were focused on the game? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 41 41 How much effort did you put into playing the game? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot Did you feel that you were tryin g your best? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you lose track of time? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you feel consciously aware of being in the real world whilst playing? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you forget about your everyday concerns? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent were you aware of yourself in your surroundings? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you notice events taking place around you? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 42 42 Did you feel the urge at any point to stop playing and see what was happening around you? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you feel that you were interacting with the game env ironment? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you feel as though you were separated from your real world environment? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you feel that the game was something you were experiencing, rather than something you were just doing? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent was your sense of being in the game environmen t stronger then your sense of being in the real world? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot At any point did you find yourself become so involved that you were unaware that you were even using controls? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 43 43 To what extent did you feel as though you were moving through the game according to your own will? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you find the game challenging? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot Were there any times during the game in which you wanted to give up? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To w hat extent did you feel motivated while playing? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you find the game easy? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what exte nt did you feel like you were making progress to the end of the game? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot How well do you think you performed in the game? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you feel emotionally attached to the game?

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 44 44 Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot Were you in suspense about whether or not you would win or lose the game? Not at al l 1 2 3 4 5 A lot At any point did you find yourself so involved that you wanted to speak to the game directly? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot To what extent did you enjoy the graphics and the imagery? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot How much would you say you enjoyed playing the game? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot When interr upted were you disappointed that the game was over? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 45 45 Would you like to play the game again? Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 A lot

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EFFECT OF CUSTOMIZATION ON IMMERSION 46 46 I have played an video game within the last two weeks [ Yes / No ] two weeks: __________ ______________________ ____________________________________________


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