To read this content please select one of the options below:

Towards understanding engagement in games: an eye‐tracking study

Tony Renshaw (Director of Usability North at Innovation North, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK)
Richard Stevens (Senior Lecturer, at Innovation North, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK)
Paul D. Denton (Sector Manager at the School of Computing and Engineering, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 25 September 2009




The purpose of this paper is to report research undertaken in developing improved understandings of players' interaction and emotional experience of electronic gaming.


The research explores a variety of techniques designed to explore user/player insights into interaction, through consideration of user satisfaction, engagement or immersion. Non‐invasive eye tracking technology is used to augment data derived from these more traditional approaches to the assessment of emotional responses. It is postulated by the authors that from this exploration of insights related to usability, improved games level learning and recognition of new inherent revenue opportunities based around in‐game advertising, will be better understood.


As the number of participants in this pilot study is small it is perhaps too early to draw firm conclusions from the data collected. However, the study does establish that it is technically possible to configure the eye‐tracker and ancillary equipment to record the eye movements of game players. The study has uncovered further areas worthy of investigation such as the influence on eye movement of, player skill and experience, the nature of activities within the game, and the best ways to indicate the importance of key objects within a game.

Practical implications

The methodology presented within this paper shows that the application of eye‐tracking solutions can be used to evaluate engagement in games. The findings provide interesting and innovative ways for the games designers and in‐game advertisers to improve their performance.


From an academic perspective, this research is innovative in the way it has developed a methodology for analysis of player engagement within electronic games. This methodology offers valuable insights into game design improvement and in‐game advertising opportunities.



Renshaw, T., Stevens, R. and Denton, P.D. (2009), "Towards understanding engagement in games: an eye‐tracking study", On the Horizon, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 408-420.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles