Monday, April 12, 2010

Closing in on a topic proposal

Meeting with Rafa today resulted in a thesis topic: Hedonics of sports fans. Generally (in the field of affective computing) this involves measuring the emotional response of a subject when exposed to certain stimuli.

In this case, the stimulus will be a sports game and the user will be a fan of one of the teams playing. A sports game was chosen as emotional peaks should be easy to predict. For instance, if the user is a fan of a team, and that team scores a goal, try or point, then we should expect they would be have a positive valence of affect. If their favourite player gets injured or if their team loses at the last moment, then we might think that they would experience strong negative emotions. User affect should be much more objective and discrete in this stimulus when compared to other types of multimedia.

Which sport to use?
I was thinking of maybe using NRL (National Rugby League) coverage as stimulus, for the following reasons:
  • Games are frequently televised and it is in-season for the duration of my project. 26 rounds are played from March until Septempber (plus additional rounds for the finals), with up to 8 matches per round, all of which are televised (albeit, only 3 on free to air TV during the weekends).
  • I know of many friends who are pretty big fans, which should make signals easier to extract (I'm guessing they would exhibit stronger emotions).
  • Most of the televised broadcasts are live, which should also yield stronger physiological signals. If a game is a replay, then it would take some of the 'excitement' away.
I also considered using the NBA (Basketball) or A-League (Soccer) games for stimulus, but with the NBA playoffs starting in April, I felt there wasn't enough time or opportunity to have subjects watch a live game. Also, I didn't think there would be enough goals scored in a soccer match to collect signals from. Which brings me to issues:

Live vs Replay?
  • Viewing of a live game would almost certainly result in a stronger physiological response. However, it would be harder to organise and there would be issues in annotation (you would have to annotate on the fly, maybe keeping a record of who scores, or what you consider to be important moments in the match).
  • With a replay, you can annotate a video beforehand (thus collecting more accurate and numerous points of interest), but collected signals might be weaker.

Foreseeable difficulties:
  • Timetabling will be a tricky issue if a live viewing is chosen. I'll have to find strong supporters for the games and have them come in when the teams play.
  • Recording data for the entire game will have difficulties. It might be uncomfortable for a subject to be hooked up to the equipment for the length of a whole game (an NRL game lasts more than 80 minutes, Football matches go for over 90).

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