The Effects of Haptics on Rhythm Dance Game Performance and Enjoyment

Bridger Scott Hodges, Brigham Young University


Haptics are an exciting, ever-expanding field, particularly in relation to video games. Though haptics found their way rather quickly into conventional games through devices like handheld controllers, music and rhythm titles have hardly seen such attention. Little research has been done to examine the effects of haptics on rhythm dance games from a quantitative and qualitative standpoint for the player. StepMania is an open-source dance game which closely mimics the popular title Dance Dance Revolution. This research investigates the effects of haptics on a sample size of fifty individuals. Each completed three songs in the game with varying conditions: the game's visuals only, a haptic device only, or both the haptics and visuals together. The haptic device warned the participant of an incoming step by vibrating two beats in advance in the direction needing to be stepped in. Music was present for all conditions, as it is an implied essential component of the game. Performance, self-reported enjoyment and self-reported difficulty were very similar between conditions involving visuals only and trials involving both the visuals and haptic device. Conditions involving the haptic device only (no visuals) saw a large drop in performance, a large increase in self-reported difficulty, and a very minor decrease in enjoyment. Despite the difference, participants reported enjoying the experience in free-response questions. The results of the study illustrate the potential for haptics to enhance user experience in rhythm dance video games. Additionally, these results indicate the beginnings of an avenue through which such dance games could become more accessible to the blind, who have been unable to participate in such games up to this point.