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Interrogating social presence in games with experiential vignettes

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Publication details

JournalEntertainment Computing
DatePublished - May 2014
Issue number2
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)101-114
Original languageEnglish


Increasingly digital games are being played multiplayer online, not just massively multiplayer games but normal PC and console games. An important constituent of the gaming experience is the social relationships between players as mediated by games. Social presence is the foundation of this experience, being the extent to which players feel present to each other within the virtual environment. This paper sets out to explore the nature of social presence in digital games. Though substantial work has already been done in this area, our first study makes it clear that current formulations of social presence in games are only capturing certain aspects of gaming experience. We therefore conducted three other small scale, largely qualitative studies that set out to manipulate social presence in games, in particular using the ambiguity of whether co-players are human to probe the relevance of social presence. We term this novel methodological approach experiential vignettes. The vignettes show that, despite what players say, they are highly task-oriented when it comes to whether the presence of other humans is meaningful in game. Moreover, current measures of social presence in games are not sufficiently rich to capture the full extent to which social presence can occur in games.

    Research areas

  • Agency, Games, Online gaming, Social engagement, Social presence

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