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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 December, 2004, 16:24 GMT
Lab to study emotion of gaming
Screenshot from San Andreas
Games are becoming more realistic all the time
Experts are to study the "sweaty palmed excitement" of people playing their computer and console games.

Glasgow Caledonian University has set up its eMotion Laboratory as a living room with a two-way mirror.

Researchers will discreetly observe game players' emotional interaction in their natural environment.

Infrared cameras will track eye movements and pupil dilation, pressure sensors measure contact on game pads and moisture sensors track excitement.

Analysis of the information will be used to determine the emotional peaks and troughs of game playing.

Soon players will weep at the death of a game character, much as they currently do when watching a movie
Jon Sykes
eMotion Laboratory
It is hoped it could provide vital information as to what involves a player and why.

The eMotion Lab has received more than 250,000 of government funding, and has established links with the BBC, Microsoft and Edinburgh University.

The data analysed in the laboratory will also feed directly into undergraduate and postgraduate programmes such as the MSc in Games Technology.

Jon Sykes, the head of the laboratory, said: "Emotion is key to human performance.

"When a sportsperson becomes frustrated their skill level can suffer and the same is true with computer games.

Five minute chance

"It is essential that game creators and publishers understand why their products are successful, particularly as gaming becomes more cerebral and emotive.

"The sale of a computer game depends upon the initial five minutes of play and the eMotion Laboratory will help designers to determine which moments are emotionally stimulating, and which fail to impress."

The success of games used in education and the work place will also be looked at to study how emotion is linked to learning and what makes programmes engaging.

Mr Sykes added: "Computer games are no longer predominantly concerned with bashing other characters around, they are about creating an emotional link between the player and the game world.

"Soon players will weep at the death of a game character, much as they currently do when watching a movie."

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