Thesis Topics

We offer topics within the following areas:

You can find more details below. Feel free to email or visit the corresponding contacts if you are interested in one of the advertised topics or topic areas.

Additionally, we offer the following thesis topics:

The psychology institutes also offer thesis topics.


Topic Area: Player Motivation

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Player Motivation in Games:

Maximizing player motivation is key to making (serious) games successful. Not only does it increase players’ attachment to the game; it has also been found to be beneficial for learning success. Currently, research is lacking in determining which game elements or combinations thereof are especially motivating.

Theses in this area can focus on developing games to showcase specific elements and evaluate their effect in user studies.

Contact:     Julia Brich

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Player-Game Adaptivity:

In an increasingly individualized world, adapting (serious) games to player characteristics is the next big thing. Theses in this area shall research the effect of adapting game elements during runtime. Which elements are eligible for adaption? How could the actual adaption be designed? How far can elements be adapted without negative effects?

Theses in my area will focus on adapting games with the goal of maximising player motivation, based on potential player type and learning preferences. For more topics concerning adaptivity, please see the other bulletins.

Contact:     Julia Brich


Topic Area: Player Assessment in Games

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Integration of Self-Reported Data Collection in Games:

Research in human-computer interaction often requires the acquisition of self-reported data. An easy way of collecting data consists of questionnaires. In a first study we found that questionnaires that are integrated in game environments might be better than questionnaires in pen-and paper or electronic form. Theses in this area aim to advance this concept.

How can different questionnaire elements be integrated in games? Is there a general concept of mapping questionnaire elements? Is the accuracy of the measurement equal to other forms of questionnaires?

Contact:    Julian Frommel

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Game Events:

During game play a lot of events happen in-game, e.g. the player completes a level. Therefore, games provide a quite unique source of valuable information. The theses in this topic should investigate how to exploit this source of information for the assessment of player characteristics and state, and thus the adaptivity of games.

How are game events defined? How can game events be used to assess player characteristics (e.g. demographics) player state (e.g. emotion)? Can players be identified by game events? How should game events be integrated in a framework for player assessment?

Contact:    Julian Frommel

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Avatars in Games:

Avatars serve many different functions in games, e.g. as representations of the player, as non-player characters or as a feedback mechanism in Serious Games. Theses in this topic area concern questions on how to use avatars for player assessment.

What data can be collected through assessment that is hidden in dialogues with non-player characters? Is it possible to assess characteristics of players from their designed in-game avatars?

Contact:    Julian Frommel

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Games in Virtual Reality:

Virtual Reality is finding its way in the consumer market at the end of 2015 with the market start of the new VR HMDs (e.g. Oculus Rift CV1 and HTC Vive). A major selling point might be games in VR. However, there is little research on this topic. Theses in this topic area therefore aim on investigating the challenges and opportunities that stem from the application of this new technology to games.

How does VR affect the way games are designed? How can the new hardware be used to assess player state and characteristics? What benefits do Serious Games have from VR technology?

Contact:    Julian Frommel


Topic Area: Adaptivity in Games

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Adaptivity Triggers in Games:

This topic area investigates the fusion and weighing of adaptivity triggers in games. The choice of adaptivity triggers lies with the student, but includes game events and biophysical signals, such as the player’s heart rate.

A thesis in this area consists of the implementation of a prototype game that analyses how incoming triggers can be merged and weighed in regard to player experience modeling. Finally, the interpretation of the player state can be integrated into the game's adaptive mechanisms.

Contact:    Katja Rogers

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Rule-Based Game Adaptivity:

The focus of this area lies in the implementation of game adaptivity. In particular, a thesis in this area will investigate the design and implementation of goal-based rule engine architectures.

The thesis focuses on the implementation of a goal-based rule engine underlying a prototype game. The game uses the rules to react to incoming triggers in order to progress towards a specific goal (e.g. a particular sequence of game events, or player states). For this purpose, the game requires a simple unit-testing system to simulate triggers. The thesis can be concluded by a technical evaluation or user study.

Contact:    Katja Rogers

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Evolutionary Adaptation of Game Elements:

Evolutionary algorithms are well-suited to the generation and adaptation of game content, by evolving digital representations of the game elements and applying fitness functions to choose among the potential offspring elements.

For a thesis in this area, the student can choose a specific game element and then use evolutionary algorithms for adaptation towards a specific goal (e.g. high player satisfaction or immersion).

Contact:    Katja Rogers

[BT/MT, several theses possible]
Specific (Serious) Games:

Many games (both serious and not-so-serious) use adaptive mechanisms, for example to provide a high degree of customisation to the player.

We offer several thesis topics involving the design and implementation of (serious) games, such as an extension of the UniRallye scavenger hunt game, a game to teach MIPS assembler programming, or a game to investigate the effects of cutscenes on immersion. If you have a game concept in mind, feel free to come by and discuss it.

Contact:    Katja Rogers



Available thesis topics:

[BT/MT] Event Logging and Analysis in Serious Games:

Serious games are designed to train and educate players, rather than focusing only on entertainment. While there are many ways to explicitly detect a learner‘s affective state and learning progress, serious games also offer the possibility of gaining implicit information about the state of the player, via the real-time logging and analysis of game events.
This thesis begins with an investigation of implicit interactions and game events relevant to serious games. Based on the analysis of real-time game events, it should then provide a classification of possible predictions regarding the player‘s affective state (e.g. „satisfied“, or „frustrated“). This is to be implemented with a simple puzzle game. Finally, a user study will be conducted
to evaluate the efficacy of implicit game event logging for serious games.

Poster:       Download PDF
Contact:    Julian Frommel


Currently available thesis topics in psychology:

The individual topics may be adopted by multiple students (upon consultation), whereby the scope of the individual dissertations will decrease correspondingly. Some of the advertised topics may also be combined, allowing for joint development and collaboration in order to keep the the complexity and number of required study participants at a reasonable scale.

Topic Area 1:

Modern technologies offer users diverse possibilities of communication with their devices, via both classical methods of input such as mouse and keyboard, but also through touch, gestures, or speech input. Combinations of these input modalities further increase the variety of choices. The goal of this topic area is to find and offer the ideal and currently-prefered method of human-computer interaction (HCI) in any situation. Our research focuses on the user: how does the interaction behaviour and user preferences change under varying affective states? For this purpose, a gamification approach is to be implemented to examine the effects of stress and competition through variations of sound, experience points, rewards, and rankings.

Contact: Topic Area 1 is a cooperation between the Media Informatics (Prof. M. Weber), Serious Games (Jun-Prof. C. Schrader) and General Psychology (Prof. A. Huckauf).

Topic Area 2:

Serious games offer the potential to promote the advancement of procedural skills, in particular through their interactive character. Procedural skills consist of factual knowledge, the rehearsal of practical routines, and the construction  of conceptual mental models. Mental models are representations of objects or events within systems, as well as the structural relationships between these objects and events. The latter, in particular, are considered essential for knowledge transfer in education. Multiple thesis projects are available to examine knowledge transfer within serious games learning of procedural skills. The following topics are of particular relevance:

Knowledge Transfer While Learning With Serious Games
The transfer of newly-gained knowledge to new situations is a considerable aspect of procedural skills, and has not yet been extensively researched in combination with serious games. Mental models are seen as a central requirement for the successful transfer of factual knowledge. Part of this thesis project consists of the explicit recording of the mental models of study participants, and their subsequent visualisation and quantification with analytic procedures such as Pathfinder. Knowledge transfer will be detected subject to the development of mental models and factual knowledge.

Optional: The additional aspect of comparisons between individual and group settings while learning with serious games may be included.

Effect of Individual Differences on the Development of Mental Models While Learning With Serious Games

In order to design serious games capable of adapting to the development of mental models - with the goal of knowledge transfer - psychologists must consider correlations with individual differences between learners. Current reseach indicates that mental models develop in levels, depending on previous experience. Cognitive styles - e.g. the dimension adaption vs. innovation in decision-making and problem-solving styles - may also influence the learning process. Mental models of study participants will be captured with analytical procedures (e.g. Pathfinder), and associated with individual properties of the learners (e.g. experience, cognitive style) and the resulting knowledge transfer.
Optional: These topics may also include the additional aspect of comparisons between individual and group settings.

Contact: Valentin Riemer

Topic Area 3: Emotions in the Context of Digital Learning Environments

The instructional design of virtual learning environments has a decisive role regarding learning success. In how far virtually displayed learning content is experienced emotionally and continually received should be considered in particular in the design of a learning environment. Current theoretical approaches indicate that learning environments that cause negative emotions such as anger, frustration, or boredom, may induce learners to avoid confrontation with the learning content. This thesis focuses on the influence of emotions, in particular, boredom and frustration, on the design and preparation of virtually presented learning content. Long-term recommendations for instruction design should be developed, based on theoretical approaches from instruction and emotion research, in order to allow virtual learning environments to counteract negative emotions. Furthermore, different methods of feedback should be designed, and examined regarding the reduction of negative emotions and an increase in time spent in a virtual learning environment. Currently, there are two thesis topics available for this topic area. One will focus on the measurement of emotions during a learning process in different modalities. The other will examine the effect of the degree of difficulty on the emotional experience of the learning process.

Contact: The above thesis topics are a collaborative offer of Claudia Schrader (Jun.-Prof. Serious Games) andUlrike Nett (Jun.-Prof. Instructional and Learning Reseach in STEM fields and medicine).