Testing incremental difficulty design in platformer games

Rina R. Wehbe, Elisa D. Mekler, Mike Schaekermann, Edward Lank, Lennart E. Nacke

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

8 Citations (Scopus)


Designing difficulty levels in platformer games is a challenge for game designers. It is important because design decisions that affect difficulty also directly affect player experience. Consequently, design strategies for balancing game difficulty are discussed by both academics and game designers. In this paper, we study how manipulating the following design decisions, commonly found in platformers, moderates difficulty: Scroll Speed, Target Size, Jump Task Complexity, and Perspective. Results for Scroll Speed and Target Size indicate that errors increase as speed increases and platform size decreases. However, results for jump task complexity demonstrate a separation of errors from task complexity. Specifically, while double-jump tasks are harder than single-jump tasks, triple-jump tasks appear to be as difficult as double-jump tasks. Additionally, the study demonstrates how changes in perspective affect the errors made by players in gameplay. The study results are applicable both to automatic level generation and dynamic difficulty adjustment in platformer games.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Colorado Convention Center, Denver, United States
Duration: 6 May 201711 May 2017
Conference number: 35


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


  • Difficulty
  • Game design
  • Games user research (GUR)


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing incremental difficulty design in platformer games'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this