Rules of Engagement: Influence of Co-Player Presence on Player Involvement in Digital Games

Brian Gajadhar, Yvonne de Kort and Wijnand IJsselsteijn

NOTE: This paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2008 Top Paper. It has been submitted to the Meaningful Play 2008 Special Issue of the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS), which will be available in July-September 2009 issue. Due to the copyright requirements of the journal, only the abstract is available in the conference proceedings.


Our research focuses on measurable differences in player experience between solitary and social play, and explores experiences of playing digital games together. The role of co-player presence in player experience is still largely unknown. Recent studies indicate that social components enrich player enjoyment, yet at the same time several scholars consider social presence a threat to player involvement. The current paper presents an empirical study of social presence as a determinant of player experience. In particular it reports effects on player involvement. Results showed players' involvement was maintained and even increased with mediated or co-located co-players as compared to solitary play. We conclude that co-players do not break the spell of a game, but become part of the magic circle.