Measuring Game Engagement: Multiple Methods and Construct Complexity

Rosa Mikeal Martey, Kate Kenski, James Folkestad, Laurie Feldman, Elana Gordis, Adrienne Shaw, Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Ben Clegg, Hui Zhang, Nissim Kaufman, Ari N. Rabkin, Samira Shaikh, Tomek Strzalkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background. Engagement has been identified as a crucial component of learning in games research. However, the conceptualization and operationalization of engagement vary widely in the literature. Many valuable approaches illuminate ways in which presence, flow, arousal, participation, and other concepts constitute or contribute to engagement. However, few studies examine multiple conceptualizations of engagement in the same project.

Method. This article discusses the results of two experiments that measure engagement in five different ways: survey self-report, content analyses of player videos, electro-dermal activity, mouse movements, and game click logs. We examine the relationships among these measures and assess how they are affected by the technical characteristics of a 30-minute, custom-built, educational game: use of a customized character, level of narrative complexity, and level of art complexity.

Results. We found that the five measures of engagement correlated in limited ways, and that they revealed substantially different relationships with game characteristics. We conclude that engagement as a construct is more complex than is captured in any of these measures individually and that using multiple methods to assess engagement can illuminate aspects of engagement not detectable by a single method of measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-547
Number of pages20
JournalSimulation and Gaming
StatePublished - Jan 24 2014


  • EDA
  • art
  • art complexity
  • attention
  • character customization
  • content analyses
  • customized character
  • educational games
  • electro-dermal activity
  • engagement
  • game clicks
  • interactivity
  • measurement
  • mouse movements
  • multiple methods
  • narrative
  • narrative complexity
  • presence
  • self-report
  • transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Computer Science Applications


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