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Interaction Lab 
(#ixlab) 
“WHEN THE BALL 
STOPS, THE FUN STOPS 
TOO” 
Bowman · Kowert · Cohen
ABSTRACT 
Video games have long been understood as an entertaining and popular medium, 
and recent work has suggested that...
BACKGROUND 
• Video games are a 
decidedly social 
endeavor 
• Coplaying makes up 
~ 60 to 75% of all 
gaming experiences ...
BACKGROUND 
• Gaming and sociability 
– Games as “third spaces of 
discourse” 
– Extraverts prefer gaming 
– Gaming foster...
BACKGROUND 
• Social inclusion is key to 
psychological well-being… 
• …and media usage 
(including video games) 
is linke...
BACKGROUND 
• Social ostracism 
triggers a need-threat 
cognitive model… 
• …which leads to a 
drive to restore social 
ne...
Research questions 
considered the impact of 
(RQ1) performance on 
enjoyment and (RQ2) need 
for belonging on both game 
...
METHOD 
• N = 88 (n = 54 male, 21.25 years, 75% White) 
• Random assignment to social ostracism (n = 40) 
or ostracism (n ...
OSTRACISM 
We used a modified live version of Kip 
Williams “ball toss” task. 
• 90% of included participants said 
“we” t...
VIDEO GAME 
Player chose to 
watch, play CPU, or 
play another (online 
or co-located) for 
three rounds. Player 
always c...
Increased need for 
belonging (trait) led 
to a likelihood to 
play with others (B = 
-.353), but only for 
those socially...
Enjoyment 
impacted by 
performance, 
game choice (co-play) 
and game 
self-efficacy – but 
only for those 
socially inclu...
DISCUSSION 
• We expected ostracism to lead to 
a desire for social interaction… 
• …but we found that inclusion 
lead to ...
FUTURE RESEARCH 
• Closer examination of affective dimensions of 
ostracism 
• Context-specific perceptions of ostracism 
...
FOR MORE INFORMATION 
http://comm.wvu.edu 
/fs/research/lab 
Nick Bowman, Ph.D. [CV] 
Twitter (@bowmanspartan) 
Skype (nic...
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When the ball stops, the fun stops too: The impact of social inclusion on video game enjoyment.

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Video games have long been understood as an entertaining and popular medium, and recent work has suggested that at least part of their appeal rests in their ability to foster feelings of sociability and belonging with others. From this, we expected that following an episode of social ostracism, playing video games with other people would be an enjoyable experience due the game’s ability to restore one’s social needs. However, in a 2 (social inclusion vs. social ostracism) x 2 (choosing to play alone vs. co-playing) quasi-experimental design, individuals who were socially ostracized in a ball tossing game reported no deficit in their subsequent enjoyment of the video game- reporting above-average enjoyment - while individuals who were socially included reported significantly lower enjoyment when playing alone compare to all other conditions. These effects held, controlling for individual sex, trait need for belonging, video game self-efficacy, and individual performance at the game. These results ran counter to predictions regarding the socially restorative power of video games following a social ostracism episode, and offer insight into how social scenarios might foster expectations of entertainment media products.


Citation: Bowman, N. D., Kowert, R., & Cohen, E. (2014, November). When the ball stops, the fun stops too: The impact of social inclusion on video game enjoyment. Paper to be presented at the National Communication Association, Chicago.

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When the ball stops, the fun stops too: The impact of social inclusion on video game enjoyment.

  1. 1. Interaction Lab (#ixlab) “WHEN THE BALL STOPS, THE FUN STOPS TOO” Bowman · Kowert · Cohen
  2. 2. ABSTRACT Video games have long been understood as an entertaining and popular medium, and recent work has suggested that at least part of their appeal rests in their ability to foster feelings of sociability and belonging with others. From this, we expected that following an episode of social ostracism, playing video games with other people would be an enjoyable experience due the game’s ability to restore one’s social needs. However, in a 2 (social inclusion vs. social ostracism) x 2 (choosing to play alone vs. co-playing) quasi-experimental design, individuals who were socially ostracized in a ball tossing game reported no deficit in their subsequent enjoyment of the video game- reporting above-average enjoyment - while individuals who were socially included reported significantly lower enjoyment when playing alone compare to all other conditions. These effects held, controlling for individual sex, trait need for belonging, video game self-efficacy, and individual performance at the game. These results ran counter to predictions regarding the socially restorative power of video games following a social ostracism episode, and offer insight into how social scenarios might foster expectations of entertainment media products. Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  3. 3. BACKGROUND • Video games are a decidedly social endeavor • Coplaying makes up ~ 60 to 75% of all gaming experiences Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  4. 4. BACKGROUND • Gaming and sociability – Games as “third spaces of discourse” – Extraverts prefer gaming – Gaming fosters relatedness – Interdependence (from gaming) fosters transactive memory Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  5. 5. BACKGROUND • Social inclusion is key to psychological well-being… • …and media usage (including video games) is linked to social inclusion Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  6. 6. BACKGROUND • Social ostracism triggers a need-threat cognitive model… • …which leads to a drive to restore social needs via social monitoring (such as seeking opportunities for inclusion) Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  7. 7. Research questions considered the impact of (RQ1) performance on enjoyment and (RQ2) need for belonging on both game choice and enjoyment HYPOTHESES • (H1) Socially ostracized individuals are more likely to select co-playing game scenarios than socially included individuals. • (H2a) individuals choosing to play with others should enjoy the experience more than individuals choosing to play alone • (H2b) socially ostracized individuals should enjoy co-playing significantly more than socially included individuals. Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  8. 8. METHOD • N = 88 (n = 54 male, 21.25 years, 75% White) • Random assignment to social ostracism (n = 40) or ostracism (n = 48) setting • Option to play video game for three rounds • Post-treatment measures of need for belonging, video game self-efficacy, video game enjoyment (scalar); perceived closeness (graphical) Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  9. 9. OSTRACISM We used a modified live version of Kip Williams “ball toss” task. • 90% of included participants said “we” threw ball • 100% of ostracized participants said “they” threw ball • Closeness scores higher for included (~5.40) than ostracized (~2.50) participants Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  10. 10. VIDEO GAME Player chose to watch, play CPU, or play another (online or co-located) for three rounds. Player always chose “Ryu” to control for avatar identification.
  11. 11. Increased need for belonging (trait) led to a likelihood to play with others (B = -.353), but only for those socially included. RESULTS • H1: Game selection; not confirmed Alone Co-Play Isolated (binomial p = .608) 15a 19a Included (binomial p = .043) 27a 13b χ2(1) = 4.09, p = .043 Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  12. 12. Enjoyment impacted by performance, game choice (co-play) and game self-efficacy – but only for those socially included. RESULTS • H2: Enjoyment highest when co-playing (5.23) than alone (4.69), t(72) = 2.13, p = .037 Interaction Lab (#ixlab) Alone Co-Play Isolated t(32) = .237, p = .814 5.10a 5.19a Included t(35.40) = 2.72, p = = .010 4.46b 5.29a
  13. 13. DISCUSSION • We expected ostracism to lead to a desire for social interaction… • …but we found that inclusion lead to a) a desire to play alone b) diminished enjoyment when making this choice! Interaction Lab (#ixlab) What’s happening? (a) Contrast effects, such that being included first may have provided an anchoring bias regarding the activity (b) Ostracized folks might become asocial rather than hypersocial the ostracism event
  14. 14. FUTURE RESEARCH • Closer examination of affective dimensions of ostracism • Context-specific perceptions of ostracism • Cooperative vs. competitive tasks • Variations of interdepencence and task demand Interaction Lab (#ixlab)
  15. 15. FOR MORE INFORMATION http://comm.wvu.edu /fs/research/lab Nick Bowman, Ph.D. [CV] Twitter (@bowmanspartan) Skype (nicholasdbowman) nicholas.bowman@mail.wvu.edu Interaction Lab (#ixlab)

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