ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Player talk—the functions of communication in multplayer role-playing games

By Anders Drachen, Jonas Heide Smith
SPECIAL ISSUE: Media Arts (Part II), [Vol. 6, No. 4]

DOI: 10.1145/1461999.1462008

Communication is a vital component of multiplayer gameplay, constituting a large part of the total player interaction. This article presents a comprehensive study of the role of interplayer communication during the gaming process in digital and tabletop role-playing game formats. A series of empirical game experiments are presented and the player-based communication analyzed, with the aim of clarifying how format (media of expression) impacts on verbal communication in multiplayer games; as well as examining player communication in general. The results show distinct differences in the communication patterns between the two game formats, directly related to the limitations and requirements of the tabletop and digital media utilized, for example in the amount of “in-character” communication. Interplayer communication in both formats is highly focused on functional content, that is, oriented towards supporting practical gameplay; however, functional content has different meanings on the two platforms. These and other results are discussed in the context of format differences and in the larger context of the functions of verbal communication during the playing of multiplayer games.

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