Bachelor's Thesis

“I’m glad you’re on my side.”: A Categorization of Social Companions in Video Games


Patrizia Ring

Processing Period:

01.01.2018 - 01.04.2018


The digital games of the last few years offer excellent graphics while the designing of non-player characters plays a secondary role. The concept of a social companion – a companion of the player character – is used frequently but barely researched regarding its concrete impact on the player. This thesis aims to establish a categorization of social companions in digital games. A preliminary definition of the term social companion - based on existing research on agents and the analyzation of popular video games of the last few years - will be developed. Based on the definition, the acquired scientific background as well as observations of exemplary companions from current video games and views from gamers (e.g. online communities) specific characteristics and design dimensions of social companions will be identified and structured within a categorization. Subsequently, a survey with video gamers based on the categorization will be conducted, which will address positive and negative qualities of social companions as well as the emotional bound between player and companion. Results of this study will be integrated in the categorization as well. Summarized, in the context of this thesis it will be examined what a social companion is defined by, in what ways they differ from ordinary non-player characters, which qualities are important, which characteristics must be avoided and by which means a relationship with the player is formed.