Joe Cutting

Joe Cutting

What triggers and sustains players’ engagement in self-paced games?

Most research into games looks at fast paced action games. But there are lots of games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga which hold player’s attention without needing fast reflexes or good co-ordination. Not all of these games are casual titles. Games like XCOM and Civilization still manage to be compelling even though they are “self paced” – the speed of the game is set by the player.


Joe’s PhD looks at the features in self-paced games which trigger and sustain players’ engagement. To do this he uses eye tracking and memory tests to develop reliable ways of measuring how well a game holds your attention. He will then use these measures to find out how adding different features to a game changes how well it holds your attention.

Before starting his PhD Joe ran his own business for ten years. The business created games and other digital media for museums and galleries.  He worked on many projects including:

  • Extinct  – A web game which has been played over 380,000 times on Kongregate.
  • Ants – A web game which in 2008 was shortlisted for a Golden Joystick award as “Best Flash Game”
  • Chickenfeed – a game published on iOS, Android and the web.

Joe also provided consultancy and project management services for several large and complex projects; typically these had budgets over £300,000.

Home institution: York

Supervisor: Dr Paul Cairns

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