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KickAR: Exploring Game Balancing Through Boosts and Handicaps in Augmented Reality Table Football

Katja Rogers, Mark Colley, David Lehr, Julian Frommel, Marcel Walch, Lennart E. Nacke, and Michael Weber. 2018. KickAR: Exploring Game Balancing Through Boosts and Handicaps in Augmented Reality Table Football. In Proceeding of the 2018 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI 2018. Montreal, QC, Canada. ACM, 166. doi:10.1145/3173574.3173740

Abstract

When player skill levels are not matched, games provide an unsatisfying player experience. Player balancing is used across many digital game genres to address this, but has not been studied for co-located augmented reality (AR) tabletop games, where using boosts and handicaps can adjust for different player skill levels. In the setting of an AR table football game, we studied the importance of game balancing being triggered by the game system or the players, and whether player skill should be required to trigger game balancing. We implemented projected icons to prominently display game balancing mechanics in the AR table football game. In a within-subjects study (N=24), we found players prefer skill-based control over game balancing and that different triggers are perceived as having different fairness. Further, the study showed that even game balancing that is perceived as unfair can provide enjoyable game experiences. Based on our findings, we provide suggestions for player balancing in AR tabletop games.