Department - Author 1

Computer Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Computer Engineering



Primary Advisor

Michael Haungs


Video games have certainly come a long way since the days of pong. From humble beginnings of the first arcade machines they have bloomed into a multi-billion dollar industry and a global force to be reckoned with. Just like with movies there are enough genres out there to fit any demographic of gamer, and that’s not even just the game’s content but also the gameplay.

Unlike other types of media though, games are meant to be interacted with and played, which brings up new issues with accessibility and keeping things interesting for different levels of skill. Dynamic game difficulty adjustment is a process of automatically changing the way the game behaves based on the skill of the player in order to avoid them from becoming bored (if the game is too easy) or frustrated (if the game is too hard). Traditionally in games the difficulty will increase at a steady rate along the course of the game with earlier levels being easier and later levels being harder. This effectively motivates the player to improve their skill or character’s overall effectiveness (through levels, items, and/or stats) in order to gain rewards of access and glory giving them a sense of accomplishment. Usually this difficulty curve is based only on a difficulty level selected at the beginning of a game, regardless of whether or not the player is truly at that skill level. On the other hand by dynamically adjusting the difficulty of a game, it can create a custom difficulty experience for any type of player, keeping the player interested from the beginning to the end without too much frustration or boredom.

In order to better understand how players will react data must be taken about their actions in the game and their emotional reactions must be documented. This paper covers the design process in making a game to test these reactions and collect data on the subject, analyzes their data and puts players into selected profiles based on the findings, discusses the use of difficulty adjustment in other games and sums up what was learned from this experiment.