Music Game Enjoyment and Natural Mapping Beyond Intuitiveness
U. Wechselberger.
Simulation & Gaming 47 (3): 304-323 (2016)

Introduction and statement of problem. Despite the success of music games with instrument-shaped controllers, little is known about what makes these kind of controllers entertaining. The aim of this article is to shed light on the enjoyment mechanisms of such music games and their particular controllers.Review of the literature. The literature’s theoretical foundation lies in the concept of natural mapping, i.e. the similarity of actions performed in the real world and their representation within the videogame. A review of the literature finds that most approaches are too simplistic, as they limit game enjoyment with natural mapping to higher intuitiveness. In contrast, challenge can also foster game enjoyment.Methodology. Two parallelized sample groups (N=20) played three levels of a music game with increasing difficulty with either a Guitar Hero controller or with a real guitar. Perceived difficulty and game enjoyment were collected via questionnaires.Analysis. A 2x3 mixed-design ANOVA was conducted for significance testing. It revealed a significant increase in enjoyment and perceived difficulty both for advanced game levels and the real guitar. A posteriori multiple regression showed that the increase in enjoyment with the real guitar could not be attributed to the higher challenge it produced alone.Conclusions and recommendations for further research. The results suggest that intuitiveness is not the single factor for music game enjoyment with natural controllers. Further research might investigate the role of simulation and identification with attractive roles, as both could act as sources for game enjoyment and natural mapping might facilitate these factors. Applications for learning and teaching should consider debriefing as a method to facilitate transfer of the game experience into the real world.
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