Giovanni Ribeiro, Katja Rogers, Maximilian Altmeyer , Thomas Terkildsen, and Lennart Nacke. 2020. Game Atmosphere: Effects of Audiovisual Thematic Cohesion on Player Experience and Psychophysiology. In Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY '20). New York, NY, USA. ACM. doi:10.1145/3410404.3414245
Game atmosphere and game audio are critical factors linked to the commercial success of video games. However, game atmosphere has been neither operationalized nor clearly defined in games user research literature, making it difficult to study. We define game atmosphere as the emerging subjective experience of a player caused by the strong audiovisual thematic cohesion (i.e., the harmonic fit of sounds and graphics to a shared theme) of video game elements. We studied players' experience of thematic cohesion in two between-subjects, independent-measures experiments (N=109) across four conditions differing in their level of audiovisual thematic fit. Participants' experiences were assessed with physiological and psychometric measurements to understand the effect of game atmosphere on player experience. Results indicate that a lack of thematic fit between audio and visuals lowers the degree of perceived atmosphere, but that while audiovisual thematic dissonance may lead to higher-intensity negative-valence facial events, it does not impact self-reported player experience or immersion.