Streaming Media


This thesis focuses on how space and level geometry in a video game influence a person’s tension. The researcher explored a few potential best practices, which a level designer might utilize when employing spatial composition in video games. By modifying a space's density, size, and openness, a designer can effectively increase or decrease the player’s spatial tension. To explore the effectiveness of the best practices and the related spatial methodology, the researcher recruited playtesters to play the thesis artifact, a customized game level in Dying Light called, “A Way Out.” The researcher then analyzed the heart rates and experiences of participants to test the hypothesis and methodology. The conclusions drawn from this research will contribute to defining a methodology for evaluating tension based on spatial composition.

Degree Date

Spring 2024

Document Type



Level Design


Katie Wood Clark

Second Advisor

Mike Porter


I want to give special thanks to my professor and fantastic thesis advisor, Professor Katie Wood Clark. She enlightens my path with her detailed and constructive feedback and constant support. I also want to thank Professor Mike Porter for reviewing my thesis proposals and giving inspiring suggestions. Finally, a huge thanks to all the playtesters who played a critical role in evaluating my methodology and refining my design.



YuanC_LDThesis_Defense.pdf (2908 kB)
Thesis Defense Slide

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