Publication: Scaffolding Novices to Leverage Auditory Awareness Cues in First-Person Shooters

Today's digital games require the mastery of many different skills. This is accomplished through play itself -- sometimes experientially and other times by using explicit guidance provided by the game designer. Multiplayer games, due to their competitive nature, provide fewer opportunities for designers to guide players into mastering particular skills, and so players must learn and master skills experientially. However, when novices compete against better players -- as they would if they were new to the game -- they can feel overwhelmed by the skill differential. This may hinder the ability of novices to learn experientially, and more importantly, may lead to extended periods of unsatisfying play and missed social play opportunities as they struggle to improve in a competitive context. A game genre that suffers from this problem is the multiplayer first-person shooter (FPS), in which the skill difference between new players and experts who have reached a high level of expertise can be quite large. To succeed in a FPS, players must master a number of skills, the most obvious of which are navigating a complex 3D environment and targeting opponents. To target opponents in a 3D environment, you must also be able to locate them -- a skill known as "opponent location awareness". With the goal of helping novices learn the skill of opponent location awareness, we first conducted an experiment to determine how experts accomplish this important task in multiplayer FPS games. After determining that an understanding of audio cues -- and how to leverage them -- was critical, we designed and evaluated two systems for introducing this skill of locating opponents through audio cues -- an explicit stand-alone training system, and a modified game interface for embedded training. We found that both systems improved accuracy and confidence, but that the explicit training system led to more audio cues being recognized. Our work may help people of disparate skill be able to play together, by scaffolding novices to learn and use a strategy commonly employed by experts.




Colby Johanson
University of Saskatchewan


Johanson, C. 2016. Scaffolding Novices to Leverage Auditory Awareness Cues in First-Person Shooters. M.Sc. Thesis In University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.


@mastersthesis {399-colby-msc-thesis,
author= {Colby Johanson},
title= {Scaffolding Novices to Leverage Auditory Awareness Cues in First-Person Shooters},
booktitle= {University of Saskatchewan},
year= {2016},
address= {Saskatoon, Saskatchewan}