Interactivity, Game Creation, Design, Learning, and Innovation. 6th International Conference, ArtsIT 2017, and Second International Conference, DLI 2017, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, October 30–31, 2017, Proceedings

Research Article

The Engagement Effect of Players’ Agency over their Characters’ Motivation

  • @INPROCEEDINGS{10.1007/978-3-319-76908-0_18,
        author={Daniel Christensen and Mette Jakobsen and Martin Kraus},
        title={The Engagement Effect of Players’ Agency over their Characters’ Motivation},
        proceedings={Interactivity, Game Creation, Design, Learning, and Innovation. 6th International Conference, ArtsIT 2017, and Second International Conference, DLI 2017, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, October 30--31, 2017, Proceedings},
        proceedings_a={ARTSIT \& DLI},
        year={2018},
        month={3},
        keywords={Video games Narrative Agency Engagement Player character Character motivation},
        doi={10.1007/978-3-319-76908-0_18}
    }
    
  • Daniel Christensen
    Mette Jakobsen
    Martin Kraus
    Year: 2018
    The Engagement Effect of Players’ Agency over their Characters’ Motivation
    ARTSIT & DLI
    Springer
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-76908-0_18
Daniel Christensen1,*, Mette Jakobsen1,*, Martin Kraus1,*
  • 1: Aalborg University
*Contact email: daniel@galdrastudios.com, mette@galdrastudios.com, martin@create.aau.dk

Abstract

Story-rich games are increasingly popular, and with this popularity comes the demand for more engaging narratives in games. This paper investigates how the players’ engagement is affected by providing them with agency over the player character’s motivation through a game mechanic, which we call Hover-text. An experiment was conducted in which a test- and control group played through a visual novel with or without the Hover-text. Using questionnaires to measure their engagement in the three categories of agency, empathy and roleplay, it was found that players who were exposed to the Hover-text reported that they felt more involved with the player character’s feelings. These findings suggest an alternative to the way games can encourage empathic engagement. More research is necessary to clarify the role of the player character’s personality, and whether using the Hover-text on a blank-slate character differs from using it on a fully-fleshed character.