Asynchronous and Synchronous Communications’ Effect on User Engagement in Prediction Games
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Fantasy sports, a medium that engrosses millions of players around the world, increases the player’s expertise and understanding about the domain of the sport. Prediction games, based on the gameplay model of fantasy sports, combine archival data and near real-time data to motivate interaction with domain-specific datasets, thereby providing rich learning opportunities. These games have the potential to engage learners in an exceptional way and provide new learning techniques. Past research suggests that communication leads to greater commitment and fuels user-engagement in games. By engagement, we mean players’ active participation and involvement with the activities in the game. Consequently, this increases the probability of learning about the domain and data sets embedded into the game in the context of prediction games. However, empirical evidence is sparse regarding the influence of communication in prediction games. This thesis investigates asynchronous and synchronous communication and their influence on player commitment: Forums, Direct Messages (DM), and Message Boards form the asynchronous mode of interaction, and chat/instant message (IM) system are the synchronous mode. A comparative analysis of their use in a prototype prediction game provides insights into the relationships between the different modes of communication and player engagement. Although previous work suggests that social interaction is valuable in increasing commitment and promoting peer learning, little is known about the relative value of different modes of communication. Thus, this research specifically focuses on the influence of different modes of communication in prediction games. We have conducted a user-study to explore the effect of communication in prediction games. The results indicate that asynchronous communication, particularly in the forum, most effectively engages players. The evaluation also provides insight for improving the game and useful suggestions regarding the design of the communication system. To summarize, overall activity, interaction and player participation increased during the presence of asynchronous communication. Future work could explore the potential for alternate results when players are well known to each other or when game activity is synchronized, as the results point to these constraints as having the greatest impact on the lack of use of synchronous communications in the prototype prediction game.
Junnutula, Meghanath Reddy (2015). Asynchronous and Synchronous Communications’ Effect on User Engagement in Prediction Games. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from