Publication: Does Helping Hurt? Aiming Assistance and Skill Development in a First-Person Shooter Game

In multiplayer First-Person Shooter (FPS) games, experience can suffer if players have different skill levels - novices can become frustrated, and experts can become bored. An effective solution to this problem is aiming-assistance-based player balancing, which gives weaker players assistance to bring them up to the level of stronger players. However, it is unknown how assistance affects skill development. The guidance hypothesis suggests that players will become overly reliant on the assistance and will not learn aiming skills as well as they would without it. In order to determine whether aiming assistance hinders FPS skill development, we carried out a study that compared performance gains and experiential measures for an assisted group and an unassisted group, over 14 game sessions over five days. Our results show that although aim assistance did significantly improve performance and perceived competence when it was present, there were no significant differences in performance gains or experiential changes between the assisted and unassisted groups (and on one measure, assisted players improved significantly more). These results go against the prediction of the guidance hypothesis, and suggest instead that the value of aiming assistance outweighs concerns about skill development - removing one of the remaining barriers that designers may see in using player balancing techniques.

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Participants

Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan
Rodrigo Vicencio-Moreira
Regan Mandryk
University of Saskatchewan

Citation

Gutwin, C., Vicencio-Moreira, R., Mandryk, R.L. 2016. Does Helping Hurt? Aiming Assistance and Skill Development in a First-Person Shooter Game. In Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI Play 2016), ISBN 978-1-4503-4456-2. 338-349. DOI=10.1145/2967934.2968101.

BibTeX

@inbook {430-does-helping-hurt,
author= {Carl Gutwin and Rodrigo Vicencio-Moreira and Regan Mandryk},
title= {Does Helping Hurt? Aiming Assistance and Skill Development in a First-Person Shooter Game},
booktitle= {Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI Play 2016)},
year= {2016},
pages= {338-349}
}