the international journal of computer game research volume 3, issue 1
may 2003
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Tony Manninen is a game designer, researcher and teacher. His research interests include issues related to interaction forms in multiplayer games. He has designed several experimental games and has published game related papers in academic forums, as well as, game reviews and game related articles in popular media.

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Interaction Forms and Communicative Actions in Multiplayer Games


by Tony Manninen



This paper offers an insight into interaction forms available in multiplayer games by analysing the communicative and social aspects of computer-mediated gaming. The work is conducted using conceptual analysis, by applying the Communicative Action Theory as the framework. The analytical framework is further expanded by a model of interaction forms, which delineates the categories of perceivable interaction forms. The main contribution of this work is in illustrating the available interaction forms and in analysing them based on the various functions they support. The successful application of the social theory framework as a tool for analysing interaction forms indicates the importance of combining the research efforts of various disciplines and practices in order to achieve more comprehensive results in the area of interaction design for multiplayer games.


1 Introduction

The aim of this paper is to provide a deeper understanding of the interaction forms available in contemporary multiplayer games by analyzing the communicative and social aspects of computer-mediated interaction. Interaction forms are actions that can potentially be perceived by players. They can act as manifestations of interaction occurring between players, or between players and the game world, and are used to convey the actions of the player to oneself, as well as to others. Interaction forms enable awareness of actions by offering mutually perceivable visualisations and auralisations within the game world. In general, the feeling of presence and the level of psychological immersion are increased due to the communication, coordination and collaboration aspects these forms bring forward.

The reduced set of intuitive non-verbal cues is one of the distinctive features that separates computer-mediated communication settings from face-to-face encounters. Even multiplayer games have fundamental problems in supporting rich social activity, and, thus, players constantly seek work-arounds and external support in order to fulfil their need to socialize. In order to discuss the existing level of interaction support, this research conceptualizes and delineates the mutually perceivable interaction forms available in multiplayer games. While the scope of this research covers a wide area of various interaction forms, the analysis is limited to perceivable actions. Every action - and interaction - that can be observed, or explicitly reflected, is of interest. This relatively behaviourist and mechanistic approach has been selected in order to limit the psychological and relatively tacit aspects of interaction out of the scope of this work.

Bowman and Hodges (1999) point out that the current applications within the entertainment sector (i.e., computer games) do not usually require any complex interaction between the user and the system. Although the user may be interacting frequently, the interactions are mostly simple in nature. Based on this, the enabling nature of richer interaction and the corresponding benefits to the users can be considered as an important area of research. In general, the richness of interaction within, for example, the communication situation varies depending on the available medium. The number of channels (e.g., audio, visual, tactile), their dynamics (e.g., the range of message intensity), and the scope and complexity of the implemented features affect the overall level of richness. However, the technical aspects are not the only ones that affect users. Suspension of disbelief would seem to be a common phenomenon in games and fiction. Players of computer games, for example, do not necessarily require realistic implementations with every possible communication channel, but instead they willingly "believe" they are immersed in the actions of the imaginary world concerned. The lack of more complex interactions is, thus, compensated using artistic and narrative elements.

Multiplayer games enable players to communicate and collaborate in joint game sessions. Whether the activity is about shooting each other with rocket launchers or arranging virtual weddings, the underlying theme is about togetherness. Players may have different reasons for playing these games, but they all still want to play with - or against - other people. The level of communication support in these games varies greatly. Most of them support textual chatting, some of them enable communicative gestures, while others concentrate on interaction forms that are highly action-specific and goal-oriented. However, the players have attempted to overcome the apparent limitations by using external communication support (e.g., Roger Wilco or TeamSpeak voice-over-IP software), or, by arranging the game event in a LAN environment (e.g., all the players within the same physical room). In order to assess the actual manifestations of interaction forms available to players, the research problem of this paper is related mainly to the conceptual aspects of interaction. The main question to be answered is as follows: How do the existing interaction forms support and enable communicative actions?

The answers to this question have been searched for through conceptual analysis and by applying the Habermas' (1984) Communicative Action Theory (CAT) as a framework. The model of interaction forms, proposed by this author, explicates the available interaction forms that can be used by players to construct communicative actions. The applicable interaction forms are illustrated through examples from game situations, and the level of communicative support provided by these forms is discussed. The main contribution of this paper is in the explicit demonstration of the relations between communicative actions and perceivable interaction forms. The research introduces the model of interaction forms that can be used as a framework for analysing perceivable interaction forms in multiplayer games. Furthermore, the model acts as a rich interaction design guideline when designing multiplayer games.


2 Interaction and interaction forms

The definition of interaction in the context of this research can be considered to follow the lines of natural interaction occurring in real-life environments. The main focus of this interaction study is within the virtual environment (i.e., gameworld) and, thus, the emphasis is on the perceivable behaviour and actions of the players’ embodiments (i.e., avatars or player characters).

Rich interaction is achieved through direct manipulation of objects, multimodal input devices and the high number of degrees of freedom. However, this relatively technical definition covers only one portion of the concept. In addition to these, social, cultural and communicative aspects have a significant impact on interaction richness. Furthermore, as pointed out by Evard et al. (2001), there is considerable evidence that people meaningfully collaborate with each other despite, for instance, the simple representational nature of the MUD environments. Rich interaction does not necessarily require rich interfaces.

The richness of interaction can be enhanced by a set of interaction forms, which is large, versatile, flexible and focused on the content. The contextual and communicative support for interaction is essential in providing players with meaningful ways to express themselves and their actions. The concept of rich interaction is, thus, not only a quantitative measure describing the amount of available interaction forms. However, a basic set of interaction form categories aid game designers to consider all the necessary areas of action representations. The richness itself is, at the end of the day, achieved by the players, who are able to exploit the available interaction forms in an intuitive and non-deterministic style.

The following section presents a model of interaction forms that has been formulated by the author drawing from the various theories of communication. The existing non-verbal communication models (Argyle, 1975; Burgoon & Ruffner, 1978; Fiske, 1982) have been combined in order to construct a backbone for the categories and the basic structure. The empirical research material (video recordings, interviews, walkthroughs, observations and heuristic evaluations) used in the construction of the model has been collected from networking game events and from self-organised gaming sessions. A total of 20 games have been studied by observation and participatory observation, and the material has been expanded on using heuristic evaluations and video analyses.

Due to the straightforward nature of action games, the heuristic evaluation was further targeted towards roleplaying games and towards games containing aspects of social interaction and constructivism. The evaluated games were to form as large an interaction composition set as possible in this context. The games that have been studied include action games (e.g. Unreal, Half-Life, Action Quake, Counter Strike, Capture the Flag) and roleplaying games (e.g. EverQuest, Ultima Online, Meridian59). There is also some material obtained from text-based games (e.g. MUDs, MOOs, etc.) and flight simulators.

Figure 1 represents the model of interaction forms showing a breakdown of the first few layers. A further breakdown is not presented in order to maintain the clarity of the model. The model illustrates the main interaction forms that can be found within current computer games. The basis for the model is the categorization of various interaction forms in terms of channels, contexts and acting entities (e.g. body parts, fellow team members, etc.).

The model acts as a concrete set of examples and categories of interaction manifestations, and consists of 12 main categories: (1) avatar appearance, (2) facial expressions, (3) kinesics, (4) occulesics, (5) autonomous / AI, (6) non-verbal audio, (7) language-based communication, (8) spatial behavior, (9) physical contact, (10) environmental details, (11) chronemics and (12) olfactics. The model is in a state of constant evolution, and its main benefit is in providing a loose framework for categorizing the sub-concepts related to interaction forms in multiplayer games. The version of the model used in the analysis, therefore, should not be considered an exhaustive set of interaction forms.


 Figure 1

Figure 1. Model of interaction forms in terms of top-level categories.


3 Related work

Game-related phenomena have been studied from the psychological, sociological and cultural points-of-view. However, the anatomy and design of games have mainly been left to the practitioners of the games industry. Clanton (2000) claims that the design communities of collaborative virtual environments (i.e. consisting mainly of researchers) and game developers (i.e. the industry) have complementary skills but rarely mingle and have little awareness of one another. Few non-entertainment software application designers attend game design conferences and, consequently, few non-entertainment applications show any awareness of the techniques utilized in game design that could serve to make them easier and more fun to learn and use. One of the few exceptions of applying game design to non-game virtual environments is provided by Clarke-Willson (1998).

An increasing body of literature describing and analysing games from the design perspective now exists (see Crawford, 1982; Rouse, 2000; Bates, 2001; Rollings and Morris, 2001). However, the approach in these is mainly practitioner-oriented, and, consequently, does not necessarily tackle the research issues raised in this paper. Academic research that is closely related to the work described in this paper includes, for example, studies on Collaborative Virtual Environments (Churchill et al., 2001). These applications share many aspects with multiplayer computer games and, therefore, many of the findings apply to the game context as well.

The non-verbal communication aspects of shared virtual environments have been studied, for example, in the context of user embodiment (Benford et al., 1997), communicative behaviour forms and conversational interface agents (Cassell, 2000) and realistically expressing avatars (Thalmann, 2001). These approaches, in addition to being focused on non-game environments, tend to concentrate on a specific and limited interaction support for particular communication situations.

The importance of a holistic game research that ideally would also entail design aspects alongside sociological, cultural and aesthetic issues, has been raised by Aarseth (2001). Although his main focus is not on design issues, he clearly emphasises the value of design knowledge for the academic community. In view of this light, the scope of this paper covers the domain of multiplayer games. The focus is on design issues, such as supporting interpersonal interaction as well as enabling flexible and intuitive communication and collaboration in a constructive manner.


4 communicative actions and perceivable interaction forms

The scientific framework, used in the analysis of interaction in CVEs, is the Communicative Action Theory (CAT) presented by Habermas (1984). The theory is mainly used as a prism through which the interaction phenomenon is analysed and described. The aspects of applicability to real world work settings are, thus, not relevant to this research. The theory has been applied, for example, to information systems development and use, and to communication-based business activity modelling.

It is hoped that the use of CAT as a framework for analysing interaction forms in relation to the actions and behaviour forms found in current multiplayer games will provide a richer insight into the concept of interaction. In addition to the material used when constructing the model of interaction forms, the analysis of this section is mainly based on the author's personal experience obtained from participating in game sessions. The text-based games as well as the flight simulators have been left out at this stage of the study.

CAT consists of six main types of social actions available to participants. These actions are (1) instrumental, (2) strategic, (3) normatively regulated, (4) dramaturgical, (5) communicative and (6) discursive action. The following section describes some examples of interaction forms that can be found in the multiplayer games. The top-level interaction form categories presented in the model of interaction forms are illustrated according to the corresponding communicative actions. Furthermore, a set of concrete interaction examples is provided.


4.1 Instrumental Actions

The success-oriented instrumental action, occurring in the non-social world, is performed by individuals aiming to advance their own personal interests. Individuals thus seek to bring about a desired circumstance by behaving according to the technical rules derived from their empirical knowledge or from theoretical models. The main concern, thus, is the realization of a goal by selecting just one action from a set of alternative actions.

Avatar Appearance, with modifiable parameters, is a clear illustration of personal achievement. There are numerous roleplaying games (RPGs) that provide players with the possibility of carrying many items, if a special container (e.g. a bag) is used. These games usually enable a more lengthy relationship between players and their avatars, thus, encouraging players to make an effort in developing the character of the avatar as a symbol of personal achievement. Still, action games rarely support this type of action per se, but they still include, for instance, clothing, such as protective suits, that improves protection against flaming lava. Additionally, the colour and pattern of avatars’ clothes (i.e. camouflage) may provide players with significant benefits in terms of reduced visibility.

Kinesics and Spatial Behaviour, especially the style or manner of movement, provide players with the possibility, for example, to prevent damage by running across dangerous area or by jumping over a pool of toxic waste. Furthermore, a connection between the avatar's pose and the freedom to enter certain places (e.g. a kneeling pose required to enter a  tunnel with a low ceiling) usually exists. In RPGs, it is relatively common to hide in a supposedly safe place while recovering from the effects of a fierce battle.

Environmental Details and Setting Modifications are still a relatively limited action group in games, but there are several simpler examples of breaking containers in order to collect consumables, or pulling a lever to get a drawbridge down. Sometimes, these actions can be used instead of an artefact-based approach, for example, by arranging a set of boxes in order to gain access to a higher platform. Artefact-based interaction, such as placing a bandage over a wound in order to stop the bleeding or collecting health packs to increase hit points, forms one of the basic actions in game settings that revolve around material products. For example, donning a special protective suit, or using a grabbing hook or anti-gravity boots, can enable entry into locations that would otherwise be difficult to access.


4.2 Strategic Actions

Goal-oriented strategic action occurs in the social world and involves two or more individuals, comprehending that they are anchored in a social context, who seek to bring about a desired state of affairs. This means that instrumental action turns into strategic action when individuals, while assessing the expected results of their actions, take into account the action of at least one of their counterparts.

The Autonomous / AI category includes a set of pre-programmable actions and counter measures that can be used to anticipate other players' actions. Examples include automatically blocking a surprise attack, evading a stronger opponent when critically wounded or even initiating a counter attack without the player's direct command. Some game communities strongly devalue these types of actions, and, as a consequence, they are not generally used for strategic purposes.

Avatar Appearance, such as the colour of clothing, can be used as a decoy in instances in which team colour is the main distinctive factor. In addition, wearing special equipment, such as silencing sneakers, enables movement without creating too much noise. The overall appearance of an avatar, if selectable or modifiable, can offer players with possibilities for gaining advantage over their enemies. A fight in a desert environment, for example, favours a sand-coloured outfit, and an avatar utilizing this equipment is in an advantageous position in comparison to its counterparts.

Kinesics and Spatial Behaviour is the main strategic class in most competitive games. Ambushing the attacking team, defending the flag and crawling or kneeling in order to avoid exposure to other players are just a few examples of this type of actions. Furthermore, by spatially arranging themselves behind more powerful group members, weaker characters may obtain strategic advantage against an enemy, and thus, be able to carry on fighting.

Language-based Communication forms a strategic backbone within games and game communities that support and value the communication aspects of playing (e.g. RPGs). However, there are several examples of this strategy also in fast-paced shooting games. Bluffing the opposite team by using false status reports, or distracting the enemy by delivering irritating taunts indicate the use of this interaction class. In addition to these, the strategic manoeuvres are generally executed based on the spoken (or written) dialogue between the team members.

Environment and Setting Modifications, such as cutting access by destroying a bridge or opening a trapdoor located under the opponent, are examples of achievements that are based on the actions (or preventing the actions) of others. Artefact-based interactions can be strategically utilized, for example, by using extra energy to gain advantage, or stealing the critical artefact before others can take it.


4.3 Normatively Regulated Actions

Normatively regulated action occurs when members of a social group act in accordance with common values. The members expect their counterparts to behave in a particular way in certain situations. The action refers to members of social groups whose actions are determined by commonly accepted norms.

Autonomous / AI interaction forms can be viewed as a strongly opposed form of actions in settings in which the balance of the game can easily be disrupted by using (or cheating with) ready-made automatic procedures. Still, some amount of autonomic interactions may be made necessary by the system as an essential part of the game’s rules (e.g. aiming is difficult due to shaking caused by exhaustion). Reactive actions stimulated by some other actions can be considered as subconscious or involuntary actions, and, generally, these sorts of actions cannot be interrupted. For example, when an avatar is hit, the impact launches a recoil animation. After the amount of sustained injuries has exceeded the critical level set by the game, the avatar falls down and the player is out of the game (at least temporarily).

Avatar appearance can be used as an indicator of team membership and, thus, regulating the colours, skins or shapes of the avatars within the team is often employed. Visible equipment may also be used to indicate a special role or capability of a team member (e.g., the red cross pack of a medic, the sniper rifle of an assassin, the magic wand of a wizard). 

Spatial behaviour, in terms of tactics and location-based actions, is a widely debated area in action games. "Camping," or hiding in a special place, while sniping other players one by one, is one of the first examples of an action that is relatively strictly regulated by playing communities, and soloing – individualistic - players in team-oriented games are generally the targets of great dislike.

Kinesics, gestures in particular, can act as special sign, or secret code, of a player group. Waving one’s hand, for example, when encountering other avatars can be part of the protocol developed by a clan (i.e. a group of players that pursue a common goal). Examples of outsiders - or newbies - attempting to imitate these special salutations, and, consequently, ending up as targets for public humiliation, indicate that there are relatively strong feelings towards the etiquette.

Perhaps the strongest piece of evidence of normatively regulated Language-based Communication is the never-ending debate on and pursuit of an in-character language in RPGs. Roleplaying enthusiasts generally want to have as strong a suspension of disbelief as possible, and, thus, they want all communication to follow the norms of the game setting (e.g. medieval fantasy or futuristic space exploration).

The Physical Contact category includes interactions that are both encouraged and discouraged. The shooting of team members is strongly regulated by team players, and can lead to a situation in which the "criminal" player is kicked out of the game server. Moreover, players that use weaker weapons against players possessing stronger weapons are usually highly valued.

Setting Modifications, if permitted, are usually strictly regulated by the system, but there are also occurrences of player community-based regulations and, for example, building a castle too close to other players' premises may lead to serious disagreements, or even to outright fighting.


4.4 Dramaturgical Actions

Dramaturgical action is the presentation of self in a public forum. It disseminates understanding about the individual’s strengths and weaknesses and, hence, enables each player to gain legitimacy in various situations. Actions are evaluated by testing the validity claims of sincerity, i.e. whether the controlled access of the audience to the ideas, thoughtsand positions of an individual is truthful or not.

Avatar Appearance can be used to reflect players' styles and attitudes, honestly or dishonestly. Equipment carried by avatars indicates the power they possess, and even the names of the avatars can indicate a purposeful dramaturgical act. The World Modifications category includes examples of similar actions (e.g. big castles to express power). In games in which the appearance of the avatar is modifiable (e.g., by acquiring special equipment and clothing), appearance is one of the most distinctive features separating veteran players from beginners. However, roleplaying usually leads players to select an appearance that best fits their portrayed role.

One example of Spatial Behaviour interaction is the tactical decoying of the opponent with false attacks, whilst simultaneously concentrating on a large-scale ambush elsewhere. When considering the movement speed of the avatar, the player may choose to walk instead of run, in order to create an illusion of being wounded.

Kinesics, such as raising both hands as a sign of surrendering, can be a strong part of a dramaturgical act, if these types of interactions are supported by the system. Unfortunately, the exploitation of gestures is still relatively limited in multiplayer games. The games, however, usually contain a set of gestures that do not have any instrumental role. Furthermore, clever combinations of movements, gestures and spatial organisation enable the players to perform, for example, group dances or aerial acrobatics. Because these actions do not improve the players’ situation in the game, they are purely dramaturgical.

Language-based Communication, such as requesting a medic when not actually wounded, can be used to create a false illusion of the player's current status. Similar actions can be executed by using artefact-based interaction, such as, using weaker weapons while preserving the stronger ones for an emergency.

The Physical Contact category, and the elimination of other players in particular, can be used for idealization purposes (e.g. fair play) or for mystification purposes (e.g. surprise attacks). Idealization, in this case, means that players voluntarily adapt their actions to the level of their opponents. For example, attacking from behind may be considered an act of cowardliness. However, sniper attack from a well-planned location may, in turn, prove the competence of the player. Although non-violent physical contact, even in its virtual form, is not very widely applied in action games, there are examples of bumping into each other, or jumping on top of team members, in order to convey feelings of success or joy.


4.5 Communicative Actions

Communicative actions aim to bring about a consensus through rational discussions under ideal speech conditions. These are characterized by symmetric power relationships between the interlocutors. The veracity of the facts, the appropriateness of the norms and the sincerity of the player all function as the validity claims for this action. The individuals arrive at a common description or a consensus of the situation through a process of negotiation, and they co-ordinate their planned actions accordingly.

Spatial Behaviour can be utilized to come to a consensus about, for example, team configuration, attack/defence synchronization, and even about the attack/defence ratios of opposite teams. In RPGs, adventurers’ groups usually utilize at least some amount of communicative action in order to stay together. Most of the negotiations during consensus-seeking are executed through Language-based Communication, thus, making language the main tool for this action.

In consensus-seeking settings, the artefact-based interaction category includes interactions such as sharing the treasure equally amongst the adventurer group, and exchanging (buying/selling) artefacts by utilizing the win-win principle.


4.6 Discursive Actions

Discursive actions aim to establish a set of common norms for all participants. They entail the explanation, discussion and. sometimes even, criticism of the validity norms that govern communicative action. When utilizing this action, social practices, beliefs and normative claims are problematized and individuals seek to redeem validity claims through argumentation.

Autonomous / AI interactions can be highly criticized, partially limited and even totally banned in game settings that are easily unbalanced. Sometimes the decision to limit these types of actions may not be successful on a player basis only. This has resulted in specific gaming servers that disable certain features, and gaming worlds that consist of separate zones with individual norms. Physical Contact interaction in the form of player killing has caused much division among network player communities. One solution to this problem has been the establishment of separate zones in which this type of behaviour is permitted.

Discursive action may also be executed if, for example, the configuration of teams is not properly balanced. The weaker team may problematize the original configurations based on the current situation. Moreover, the whole game system may be criticized by the players to the extent that it causes the game developers to change the system. This is especially common in online roleplaying games.


4.7 Implications and Criticism

The aforementioned examples indicate that the social aspect in current networked multiplayer games, with the existing interaction forms available to the players, is evident. Even the games that contain a limited amount of language-based communication have several interaction forms that enable social actions, and, thus, provide corresponding interaction functions. However, the illustrated examples of communicative actions tend to be relatively simple in terms of implemented features and, consequently, do not necessarily contain the high level of details included in real world situations. Additionally, many of the communicative actions are actually constructed outside the game system. The players constantly use off-game interaction to enhance the social aspects of playing.

Instrumental and strategic actions have dominance over other action types. The limited number of discursive action examples may be the result of the application domain - games usually follow predefined rules, so there is little room for negotiating new goals or win-factors. Furthermore, if the norms of a game are not acceptable, the player chooses to play some other game. However, clan wars and online RPGs are an exception: they involve a constant debate about the rules and goals of the games. A summary of the analysis, in the form of representative examples, is presented in Table 1, and includes social action type descriptions as well as descriptions of the examples.

CAT can be criticized in the light of the conditions under which the communicative action takes place. The somewhat idealistic environment - with freely speaking, highly contributing and collectively acting individuals - may be hard to find in the real world. Then again, game settings and player communities may enable totally different conditions to those in the real world. Issues of motivation and contribution would seem not to be strictly defined in the entertainment arena.

A second limitation of CAT, in this context, is the language-centred perspective. The assertion that language enables and supports all human action is somewhat limited when considering the aforementioned analysis. The majority of the interaction forms were not based on language, but rather, they were based on the actions and non-verbal behaviour of the individuals involved.


Table 1

Action Type

Examples in Multi-user Games


The egocentric nature of current multiplayer games results in numerous examples of personal achievements, at least in the area of longer duration RPGs. Killing monsters to gain experience points, fragging enemies to increase scores and collecting treasures are all examples of instrumental actions.


Game theory and the overall competitive aspects of action games, in particular. Team-based gaming enlarges the actions of an individual to cover multiple players.
RPGs indicate more indirect strategic actions.

The counterpart may be an enemy of the team member played by a human player, or a computer controlled autonomous character.

Normatively Regulated

Clans, gaming communities and "veteran" players disseminate the etiquette and traditions to newcomers. Game rules (engine) act as the overall referee to prevent illegal actions.


Embodiment and action patterns of individuals generate their image within the community. Supportive and destructive attitudes towards novice players as opposite philosophies.


Team-based gaming encourages coordinated actions even in situations in which there is no appointed leader. Duel matches contain a high amount of "gentleman agreements." Negotiation of artefacts (buying, selling, exchanging) are an important part of RPGs.


Arguments over changes in maps, rejection of a team member, and criticism of a leader. The entertainment aspect of applications causes critical balancing problems in terms of acceptable norms.


Table 1: Social action types and examples of their use in multi-user games


The results of the study indicate the possibility of using the model of interaction forms as a tool for structuring the data into coherent and descriptive categories. In addition to this, the model is beneficial for pointing out several areas of interaction forms that are not adequately supported by the games. The model has been analyzed and compared against the social theoretical framework. The different approaches to interaction (i.e. the interaction form approach and the higher-level social action view) adequately support each other. The model of interaction forms can be successfully mapped as a set of executing instances for higher-level social activities.

The value of the interaction form model is in providing a conceptual framework that can be applied as a basis for the analysis, evaluation and design of multiplayer games. The model can aid designers in supporting meaningful and useful interaction by providing a holistic view of the applicable interaction forms. Moreover, the conceptual understanding of the phenomenon can help researchers and practitioners to tackle the issues of interaction design collaboratively, as it provides a common language and common terms for the various categories of interaction form.


5 Conclusions

This paper has described the concept of interaction forms by providing examples of communicative actions that occur in contemporary multiplayer games. A definition and a model of interaction forms were presented and used as the structuring framework during the analysis. Further understanding of the interaction forms perceivable in multiplayer games was provided by analyzing the communicative and social aspects of computer-mediated interaction, using the Communicative Action Theory as a framework.

The results of the analysis indicate that the communicative aspect of current multiplayer games is enabled by a relatively limited set of interaction forms. Still, the available features of the games that contain a limited amount of language-based communication would seem to be enough to enable a certain level of communicative actions. This level, however, is usually achieved by overcoming the restrictions and limitations of the system. In-game support for communicative interaction forms is, as a rule, notably low.

The illustrated examples of interaction forms, and their role as the building blocks of communicative actions, can be viewed as a novel approach to designing new games and shared virtual environments. Although contemporary multiplayer games would seem to have an adequate level of communication support and engaging representational features to enhance the computer-mediated interaction, there are still huge gaps to be bridged. The interaction form model is significant for game designers, as it illustrates the possible representations of, for example, non-verbal communication in networked settings. As a result, it is possible to reduce the limitations and restrictions of computer mediation by enabling more flexible and natural interaction.

The results of this paper do not provide any cookbook solutions for game design and analysis. However, the analysis of interaction forms in multiplayer game sessions indicates that players can effectively use various forms of communication, if the system is designed to support them in a memorable, yet invisible, manner. A creative combination of various communication channels would, perhaps, make it possible to enhance the overall interaction and further increase the communicative, collaborative and constructive aspects of multiplayer games.



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