A Matched Set: Romantic Couples Play in MMOGs

Kelly Bergstrom, Jennifer Jenson, Nicholas Taylor and Suzanne De Castell


Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) have been a fruitful venue to study social interactions ranging from small temporary groups, to larger, more permanent in-game social collectives such as guilds or clans. Much of this literature is focused on strangers becoming friends through MMOG play, yet comparatively little is known about gameplay-based interactions between pre-existing romantic couples. To address these gaps, in this paper we describe the results of two studies: (1) small qualitative investigation of the avatars made by twelve romantic couples to illustrate that collaboration is apparent from as early as the avatar-design phase of MMOG play and (2) a quantitative investigation of the in-game actions and collaborations between romantic pairings as they played the fantasy MMOG RIFT. Taken together, these two investigations add much-needed insights to the oft-overlooked play habits of collocated romantic pairs who play MMOGs as part of their shared leisure time.