To asymmetry and beyond!: Improving social connectedness by increasing designed interdependence in cooperative play

John Harris and Mark Hancock. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 9:1-9:12, 2019.

Publication and Related Materials


Social play can have numerous health benefits but research has shown that not all multiplayer games are effective at promoting social engagement. Asymmetric cooperative games have shown promise in this regard but the design and dynamics of this unique style of play is not yet well understood. To address this, we present the results of two player experience studies using our custom prototype game Beam Me 'Round, Scotty! 2: the first comparing symmetric cooperative play (e.g., where players have the same interface, goals, mechanics, etc.) to asymmetric cooperative play (e.g., where players have differing roles, abilities, interfaces, etc.) and the second comparing the effect of increasing degrees of interdependence between play partners. Our results not only indicate that asymmetric cooperative games may enhance players' perceptions of connectedness, social engagement, immersion, and comfort with a game's controls, but also demonstrate how to further improve these outcomes via deliberate mechanical design changes, such as changes in cooperative action timing and direction of dependence.

Bibtex entry

@INPROCEEDINGS { Harris:2019:ABI:3290605.3300239,
    AUTHOR = { John Harris and Mark Hancock },
    TITLE = { To Asymmetry and Beyond!: Improving Social Connectedness by Increasing Designed Interdependence in Cooperative Play },
    BOOKTITLE = { Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems },
    SERIES = { CHI '19 },
    YEAR = { 2019 },
    ISBN = { 978-1-4503-5970-2 },
    LOCATION = { Glasgow, Scotland Uk },
    PAGES = { 9:1--9:12 },
    ARTICLENO = { 9 },
    NUMPAGES = { 12 },
    DOI = { 10.1145/3290605.3300239 },
    ACMID = { 3300239 },
    PUBLISHER = { ACM },
    ADDRESS = { New York, NY, USA },
    KEYWORDS = { asymmetric games, game design, games user research, player experience, social presence, symmetric vs asymmetric play },