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Mario, Luigi and Dave: the effect of language on the social structure of a bilingual online mobile game

By Ben Kirman, Shaun Lawson and Conor Linehan

Abstract

In this paper, we explore the structure of a social community built in an online game that was released in two languages, specifically examining the behaviours of players involved in inter-lingual interaction. This asynchronous social game was released simultaneously in Italian and English. The player base was seeded with English and Italian players but allowed to grow organically without restriction. Despite the built-in segregation by language, we found that the entire player-base formed into a single social network and developed strategies for overcoming the challenges faced by a multi-lingual game community.\ud Using Network Analysis, we break down the community in the game based on language and play style. We demonstrate that the behaviour of both English and Italian players was equivalent, and that play style had no effect on the likelihood of players deliberately engaging in inter-lingual communication.\ud In the context of the strategies used by the players in our experiment, we discuss game design patterns that provide incentives for users to behave more socially and how to create tools to enable the players to cross the lingual and cultural barriers in online games

Topics: G440 Human-computer Interaction
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lincoln.ac.uk:2170

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