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2 Virtual Environment – “Spaceship” Computer Game

A virtual environment (computer game) with different levels of intensity was created to investigate its influence on player's emotions and behaviour, and game play experience relations with personality traits.

A player controls a spaceship using keyboard buttons (left, right, up, and down) and tries not to collide with asteroids that are flying to the spaceship. The principle of a game is shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1. Randomly generated asteroids flying to the spaceship

The generator of the asteroids is programmed so that the asteroids are randomly generated in a limited rectangle area (Fig. 1, back rectangle) and can appear in any point of the rectangle with the same probability. In this way a dispersion of the asteroids on the screen is created and they are spread in the whole space area. The generated asteroids are of different sizes within the predefined size limits. The asteroids fly in the same velocity but their number differs in different phases of a game. When the asteroids reach the front (monitor) plane, they are invisibly destroyed to avoid “wondering” asteroids and accidental collisions. If an asteroid is not destroyed, it can begin flying back after reaching the front plane.

The distance between the plane where asteroids are generated and the front plane, where they are invisibly destroyed is more than ten seconds long if evaluating it by the speed of an asteroid. The generated asteroid becomes visible to a player 4-5 s later after the generation. After it becomes visible it reaches the possible collision (with a spaceship) plane in 6-7 s and a few more seconds are needed to reach the front plane where they are invisibly destroyed. The spaceship is not situated on the front plane; it is placed on a potential collision plane and is all visible to the player. It is important to note that if an approaching asteroid is in the centre and the spaceship is in the centre at that moment, it is not possible to avoid a collision two seconds before the potential collision. In order to elicit stronger emotional reaction to a collision of a spaceship and an asteroid visual (fire) and audible (strong crash sound) effects are produced.

Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 demonstrate two scenes and situations of a game.

Fig. 2. Asteroids flying to the spaceship without a collision

Fig. 3. A collision of a spaceship and an asteroid (with visual fire effect)

Fig. 2 illustrates asteroids flying to the spaceship without a collision (the spaceship leaves a smoke band behind it) and Fig. 3 shows a collision of a spaceship and an asteroid when a fire visual effect is present together with a collision sound. However the spaceship is not visually affected after a collision and the game is continued.

Game simulator was created using Unity 3D engine and C# programming language. A PC with i7 processor 8 GB RAM and Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT video card was used. The computer game was played using full HD 65” diameter monitor (screen resolution 1920x1080), and surround 5.1 sound system.

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