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Exploring the Role of Non-Player Characters and Gender in Player Identification

Katja Rogers, Maria Aufheimer, Michael Weber, and Lennart E. Nacke. 2018. Exploring the Role of Non-Player Characters and Gender in Player Identification. In Proceedings of the 2018 Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play - CHI PLAY '18 Extended Abstracts. Melbourne, VIC, Australia. ACM, 271-283. doi:10.1145/3270316.3273041

Abstract

Non-player characters (NPCs) are important for immersion, but how their character design affects player experience has received little attention in previous games research. Related work suggests that NPCs support player identification, which in turn impacts player enjoyment and immersion, but this has not been explored empirically. In a betweensubjects study, we explored effects of NPC design on player experience. In particular, we investigated how biological sex of NPCs and player gender affect identification and NPC interaction. Our results provide first empirical support for NPC design supporting player identification, reveal gender differences in the identification process, and uncover new research questions regarding mediators of the identification process.