Publication: Target Assistance for Subtly Balancing Competitive Play

In games where skills such as targeting are critical to winning, it is difficult for players with different skill levels to have a competitive and engaging experience. Although several mechanisms for accommodating different skill levels have been proposed, traditional approaches can be too obvious and can change the nature of the game. For games involving aiming, we propose the use of target assistance techniques (such as area cursors, target gravity, and sticky targets) to accommodate skill imbalances. We compared three techniques in a study, and found that area cursors and target gravity significantly reduced score differential in a shooting-gallery game. Further, less skilled players reported having more fun when the techniques helped them be more competitive, and even after they learned assistance was given, felt that this form of balancing was good for group gameplay. Our results show that target assistance techniques can make target-based games more competitive for shared play.





Scott Bateman
University of New Brunswick
Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan
Tad Stach
Queen's University
Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan


Targeting Assistance for Distant Pointing at Interactive Surfaces
Pointing at displays from a distance is becoming a common scenario for controlling computers, entertainment systems, and video games.


Bateman, S., Mandryk, R.L., Stach, T., Gutwin, C. 2011. Target Assistance for Subtly Balancing Competitive Play. In Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI '11), Vancouver, Canada. 2355-2364. Honorable Mention Award. DOI=10.1145/1978942.1979287.


@inproceedings {201-p2355-bateman,
author= {Scott Bateman and Regan Mandryk and Tad Stach and Carl Gutwin},
title= {Target Assistance for Subtly Balancing Competitive Play},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI '11)},
year= {2011},
address= {Vancouver, Canada},
pages= {2355-2364},
note= {Honorable Mention Award}