On jump scares, enjoyment, and the dimensional theory of emotion: A media psychophysiology approach to enjoyment of horror video games

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2020-05

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Abstract

Despite enjoying considerable popularity, research on horror video games and enjoyment of them is limited. This dissertation utilized media psychophysiology in order to assess appetitive and aversive motivation activation, the underlying components of emotion, in players of a custom-made horror video game. Specifically, this dissertation examined how players’ sensation-seeking levels impacted their emotional responses to jump scares in a custom-made horror video game as well as the role these factors played in enjoyment of the game. Through pre and post-gameplay questions and psychophysiological measures, this dissertation found sensation-seeking did have an influence on several factors. First, it found that high sensation-seeking gamers experienced lower recovery levels to jump scare responses than low sensation-seeking gamers. Second, it found that each of the 6 jump scares were different in the responses they elicited in participants in both sensation-seeking categories. Lastly, it found that the interaction of sensation-seeking and specific jump scares were important factors in predicting player enjoyment of the game.

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Keywords

Horror video games, Media psychophysiology

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