Social Facilitation In Games

In this project, we investigated the of socio-psychological phenomenon of social facilitation in digital games with a group of master students. The main research questions were: Does social presence of other persons have influence on the performance of a player? Which impact does the presence of virtual social entities (e.g. NPCs) have? Which factors are influencing the effect? To answer those questions the concept and theories of social facilitation were applied to digital games and concrete research scenarios were developed. Based on that theoretical knowledge, a prototypic exploratory testbed game was designed. This game contains various variable parameters, which allow the exploration of social facilitation in different game conditions corresponding to the defined research questions. To prove the applicability of the game, a first study was conducted to examine the effect of the presence of a virtual agent on player experience and performance. Results indicate that performance is influenced only under certain circumstances, for instance if players are highly immersed. Future studies are planned to further examine the underlying processes and impact factors that lead to social facilitation.