Abstract for: Effects of Delay, Nonlinearity and Feedback on the Overall Complexity of a Stock Management Game

The aim of this study is to test statistically the effects of delay, nonlinearity and feedback factors on the complexity of a stock management task. The task requires the player to bring the inventory to a target level and keep it there. Each of the individual complexity factors brings different challenges to the game. Using a slightly modified Latin square experimental design, we test the factors at different strength levels. We use two measures of game complexity: game scores and players’ subjective difficulty ratings. The results show that, with respect to the simple base game, delay and nonlinearity create worsening in game performances. Also, with increased delay duration, delay order and nonlinearity, subjects' performances deteriorate. However, feedback does not deteriorate the game performance. Furthermore, increased feedback strength even improves scores, due to a technical side effect on the performance measure. All subject groups exhibit learning by repeated trials. Nevertheless, there is also evidence that delay prevents transfer of learning to other game versions. The subjective complexity ratings of the players yield parallel results, the overall correlation of game scores with the subjective difficulty ratings being +0.59.