Higher quality computer graphics in the areas of virtual reality and games is generally assumed to create a more immersive experience for the end user. This assumption was examined by testing to what degree graphical fidelity was associated with physiological arousal as measured by a galvanic skin response (GSR) sensor. Thirty-six subjects played two different video games, Crysis and Dead Space, at the highest and lowest graphical quality settings while their GSR activity was measured. No significant difference in GSR was observed as associated with graphical quality. However, when asked how the user would rate graphical fidelity usage in Dead Space, the ANOVA result suggests there is a statistical difference. The findings of this study suggest that graphical fidelity is an important factor in survival-horror shooters however there is not enough evidence to support any claims that it is the definitive factor for creating greater emotional response in the games that were tested. Overall, it was concluded that, for video games in which a strong emotional response is desired, development focus only upon increased graphical quality alone, is not likely to lead to a noticeable physiological arousal response in the player.


Game Research, Graphical Fidelity, Immersion, Player Psychology, Games, Human Perception, GSR, Emotional Response, Galvanic Skin Response

Date of this Version



Computer Graphics Technology

Department Head

Patrick E. Connolly

Month of Graduation



Master of Science

Head of Graduate Program

Craig L. Miller

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

James L. Mohler

Committee Member 1

David M. Whittinghill

Committee Member 2

Patrick E. Connolly