The Visual Computer

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 429–442 | Cite as

LiverDefense: how to employ a tower defense game as a customisable research tool

  • Julia BrichEmail author
  • Katja Rogers
  • Julian Frommel
  • Martin Weidhaas
  • Adrian Brückner
  • Sarah Mirabile
  • Tamara Dorn
  • Valentin Riemer
  • Claudia Schrader
  • Michael Weber
Original Article


In game-related research, it is often necessary to create different versions of a game prototype and gather information about players. To make this possible even for non-programmers, we present LiverDefense, an educational Tower Defense game about the basic functions of the human liver, which can be used as a customisable research tool. LiverDefense can be customised via human-readable XML files both in its degree of difficulty and the content of Likert scale questionnaires to be presented to the player. As a proof of concept, LiverDefense has been successfully employed in a psychological study focused on exploring the effect of perceived control over gameplay on players’ emotions. We report on the analysis of this study with regard to enjoyment and frustration and the resulting insights on using LiverDefense as a customisable research tool.


Educational games Game design Bio-medical education Questionnaire integration Customisable games 



This work was conducted within the project “Serious Games–Skill Advancement Through Adaptive Systems” being funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation and as part of the project “EffIS–Efficient and Interactive Studying” (FKZ: 16OH21032) funded since 2014 by the BMBF (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) within the program “Aufstieg durch Bildung: Offene Hoch-schulen”.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Brich
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katja Rogers
    • 1
  • Julian Frommel
    • 1
  • Martin Weidhaas
    • 3
  • Adrian Brückner
    • 3
  • Sarah Mirabile
    • 3
  • Tamara Dorn
    • 3
  • Valentin Riemer
    • 2
  • Claudia Schrader
    • 2
  • Michael Weber
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Media InformaticsUlm UniversityUlmGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Psychology and Education, Serious Games GroupUlm UniversityUlmGermany
  3. 3.Ulm UniversityUlmGermany

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