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Uncertainty reduction and game communication : how does uncertainty reduction theory come into play?

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Costa, Carolyn
Wildermuth, Susan; TerKeurst, James; Welch, S.A.
University of Wisconsin--Whitewater
Dec 2015
Internet games--Social aspects; Information behavior; Communication; Internet games--Design
The goal of this study was to test whether uncertainty reduction theory could be applied to a game environment by examining how players used the information seeking strategies of the theory: passive, active, interactive, and extractive. It also explored demographic variables to determine whether these influenced strategy use. Few studies have specifically investigated communication in games, and this study attempted to apply a communication-focused theory in order to increase knowledge in this area, as well as potentially expand the theory. This information could also be useful to game designers working on sociability structures in games. An online survey was developed and posted on gaming forums and guild websites, and received 111 completed responses. Results did not show a difference in the frequency of strategy use. Uncertainty reduction theory did not seem to apply to the context of in-game communications. However, results did show correlations between players’ level of game experience and desire to reduce uncertainty about both task-related and socioemotional topics. In addition, correlations between players’ level of game experience and both interactive and active strategies were found.
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