Videos of people filming themselves playing games, or as they are more commonly known, Let’s Play videos are a rather new form of entertainment, only having properly emerged within the last 10 years or so. Since the Let’s Play genre as entertainment has become exceedingly popular, Priscilla N.Y. Wong, Jacob M. Rigby, and Duncan P. Brumby conducted a research to find out just how immersive these Let’s Play videos are. In addition to the depth of the level of immersion a person experiences while watching Let’s Play videos, the researchers wanted to find out if familiarity with the game at hand impacts the level of immersion experienced.
To measure the immersion their test subjects experienced, the researchers used a modified version of the Immersion Experience Questionnaire (IEQ) by Jennett et al. The questionnaire measures immersion by giving a score based on the answers – higher scores indicating a deeper immersion. Immersion is defined in the research paper as a “state of high engagement” and feeling as if the player is “in the game”.
What was done?
The researchers chose to look at three types of media exposure: playing a game, watching a Let’s Play video of the same game, and watching a video of a real-world event of the same type (in this case a racing game vs. an actual racing event).
The researchers had two hypotheses. Firstly, that the test subjects’ IEQ scores would be highest after playing the game themselves, slightly lower after watching the Let’s Play, and lowest after watching a related event on TV. Secondly, they expected players more familiar with the game to have higher IEQ scores after the Let’s Play video than those less familiar with the game.
To test their hypotheses, the researchers had forty students play Mario Kart Wii, watch a Let’s Play video of the game, and watch an actual racing event. Most of the participants were familiar with the game before the research. After each media exposure, the participants answered a modified version of the IEQ. The questionnaire was modified by removing questions that did not apply to all three media types.
What was discovered?
In the end, the first of the researchers’ hypotheses was correct, but the second was not. The IEQ scores of the participants matched the researchers’ expectations. However, unlike the researchers predicted, the participants familiar with the game had lower IEQ scores when watching the Let’s Play video.
The research seems to suggest that Let’s Play videos function, as the researchers called them, as “a bridge between the interactivity of playing games and the passive entertainment enjoyed by many when watching videos,” at least when it comes to the immersiveness factor. The research also suggests that familiarity with the game moderates the level of immersion experienced when not directly playing the game, a factor that creators of Let’s Play content might be interested in considering when shooting their videos.
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The article Game & Watch: Are “Let’s Play” Gaming Videos as Immersive as Playing Games? by Priscilla N.Y. Wong, Jacob M. Rigby, and Duncan P. Brumby was published at the Chi PLAY 2017 Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play and can be read at: http://st.sigchi.org/publications/toc/chi-play-2017.html?fbclid=IwAR3g1iBbWWtHKylOouaDHDDNieRHsdvuIkqZbgEGv1U_Kn_e9XpzGPqe1Ag
The featured picture is taken from https://pxhere.com/en/photo/948574 and is licensed for free use with no attribution needed.
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