The Flow Experience

screenshots of the flow experience

Experimental Video Game







Google Cloud Services



UX Researcher, Data Analyst, Concept & Development

On the surface, The Flow Experience is a zen-like twist on classic 2D arcade games about evading and blocking enemy attacks. This immediately creates an interesting UX conflict between stress and relaxation and a playground to research affective reactions emerging from this conflict: Enjoyment, anger, frustration, and everything that comes with it. Given that emotional reactions are very personal, different between individuals, and dependent on the situational context, the aim for this project was not only to create a game that could achieve a "flow" effect (which can be seen as a state of pure focus and enjoyment), but achieve it for every player and every situation. In psychology, flow is a key experience for productivity and enjoyment and integrated in our current affective state. So to create a game that could overcome situational and individual differences, it needed to (a) measure user affect; (b) model these affects statistically; and (c) adapt to the own model. I developed a theoretical concept and process model to achieve this, applied linear regression models, and succesfully evaluated the resulting game in a large-scale user study. Overall, this project demonstrated the potential for affect-adaptation, and provided a blueprint of how to approach an adaptation task from a theoretical and methodological perspective. The non-experimental version of the game was then made commercially available, as it proved to be by itself quite fun and rewarding.
theoretical model of the affective relationship between game and people. User input is seen as affective input and game output as affective output. On the game side, we need three components: recognition, modelling, and adaptation. On the user side, psychological processes like appraisal are involved to construct emotions out of the user's properties and the current situation.
ingame screenshot of the Flow Experience