A large number of perceptual and cognitive processes are instantiated during active gameplay, culminating in what is termed the overall “gaming experience” which encapsulates multiple, subjective dimensions of how one feels about the game. Although some research has been conducted into the neural mechanisms underlying the gaming experience, previous studies so far have relied on commercial games that provide little control over key aspects of gameplay and also have focused only on a few individual dimensions of the gaming experience. Here, we used a custom-made, immersive driving car game in four different gameplay versions (baseline, obstacle increase, goal decrease, speed increase) to assess and modulate the subjective gameplay experience while participants underwent a fMRI scan. A multivariate correlation analysis of whole-brain neural activity with behaviorally-identified subjective gaming experience uncovered brain networks associated with different experiences, including higher-level visual processing networks, the default network, and emotional areas. These regions were in addition able to decode the four different game conditions above chance. Our results for the first time describe the full range of cortical networks that become engaged to create the subjective experience during active gameplay.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience