Publication: Peak-End Effects on Player Experience in Casual Games

The peak-end rule is a psychological heuristic observing that people's retrospective assessment of an experience is strongly influenced by the intensity of the peak and final moments of that experience. We examine how aspects of game player experience are influenced by peak-end manipulations to the sequence of events in games that are otherwise objectively identical. A first experiment examines players' retrospective assessments of two games (a pattern matching game based on Bejeweled and a point-and-click reaction game) when the sequence of difficulty is manipulated to induce positive, negative and neutral peak-end effects. A second experiment examines assessments of a shootout game in which the balance between challenge and skill is similarly manipulated. Results across the games show that recollection of challenge was strongly influenced by peak-end effects; however, results for fun, enjoyment, and preference to repeat were varied -- sometimes significantly in favour of the hypothesized effects, sometimes insignificant, but never against the hypothesis.




Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan
Christianne Rooke
Andy Cockburn
University of Canterbury
Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan
Benjamin Lafreniere


Gutwin, C., Rooke, C., Cockburn, A., Mandryk, R.L., Lafreniere, B. 2016. Peak-End Effects on Player Experience in Casual Games. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2016), San Jose, USA. 5608-5619. Honourable Mention Award (top 5%).


@inproceedings {391-p5608-gutwin,
author= {Carl Gutwin and Christianne Rooke and Andy Cockburn and Regan Mandryk and Benjamin Lafreniere},
title= {Peak-End Effects on Player Experience in Casual Games},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2016)},
year= {2016},
address= {San Jose, USA},
pages= {5608-5619},
note= {Honourable Mention Award (top 5%)}