Off-Peak: An Examination of Ordinary Player Experience

April Tyack*, Elisa Mekler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Videogames' increasing cultural relevance and suffusion into everyday use contexts suggests they can no longer be considered novelties. Broadly speaking, games research at CHI has concerned two forms of peak experience—historically, research aimed to support flow, or maximise enjoyment and positive emotions; more recently, scholarship engages with more varied experiences of intense emotion, such as emotional challenge. In different ways, both approaches emphasise extra-ordinary player experience (PX). Conversely, videogame play and PX have become more routine—indeed, more ordinary—as the medium's cultural presence grows. In this paper, we argue that HCI games research is conceptually ill-equipped to investigate these increasingly common and often desirable experiences. We conceptualise "ordinary player experience'' – as familiar, emotionally moderate, co-attentive, and abstractly memorable – articulating a phenomenon whose apparent mundanity has seen it elude description to date. We discuss opportunities to productively employ ordinary PX in HCI games research, alongside conceptual implications for PX and player wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationMaking Waves, Combining Strengths
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380966
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Virtual, Online, Yokohama, Japan
Duration: 8 May 202113 May 2021


ConferenceACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleACM CHI
Internet address


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  • CHI Honorable Mention

    Tyack, April (Recipient) & Mekler, Elisa (Recipient), 2021

    Prize: Award or honor granted for a specific work

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