Work Hard, Scare Hard? An Investigation of How Mental Workload Impacts Jump Scare Intensity

Thomas Terkildsen*, Lene Engelst Christensen, Mathias Clasen

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Despite the prevalence and relevance of jump scares in horror video games, there is little empirical research on them. While HCI research commonly uses horror games as experimental stimuli, even less scientific research exists on what makes a jump scare in a game more or less scary. The present between-subject study (n=60) addresses this by investigating whether jump scare intensity - measured physiologically and subjectively - scales with task difficulty. We triggered in-game jump scares at increasing levels of mental workload across four counterbalanced conditions, manipulated using N-back tasks of varying difficulty. Results demonstrate a significant linear relationship between mental workload and physiological arousal. However, this is not the case for subjective perception of arousal elicited by the jump scare. These findings have design implications for horror games. They show that the level of physiological arousal caused by a jump scare can be controlled by changing the difficulty of an in-game task that necessitates a substantial amount of mental work at the same time.

TidsskriftProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Sider (fra-til)27-44
StatusUdgivet - okt. 2023


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