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Why Good Games Go Bad: Exploring Consumer Engagement in Video Game Communities
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This dissertation examines consumer perceptions of the engagement practices of the AAA video game industry, consumer perceptions of engagement with the AAA video game industry, and consumer perceptions of engagement with other consumers. Engagement is a strategic function encouraging organizational relationships with consumers. Though industries may develop approaches for engaging their consumers, these engagement practices may not match consumer perceptions and expectations., thus creating expectation gaps. Moreover, expectations of different consumer groups may be mutually exclusive. As industries continue to seek ways to engage consumers, engagement practices can present opportunities and risks. The dissertation consists of three separate studies. Study One examines self-identified casual, average, and hardcore video game consumers’ perceptions of ideal engagement with AAA publishers, attitudes toward publishers, the likelihood of engaging with AAA publishers, and their consumer behaviors. Study Two examines the promotional texts produced by AAA publishers and journalist critiques of three negatively-reviewed video games. These video games are Electronic Arts’ Mass Effect: Andromeda (2017) and Star Wars Battlefront II (2017), and, in collaboration with Sony Interactive Entertainment, Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky (2016). Qualitative analysis identifies issues evidenced in these texts in order to describe how engagement is enacted by publishers and how this engagement is evaluated by journalists. Finally, Study Three examines consumer-to-consumer conversations concerning the three negatively reviewed games on the social media platform Reddit. Findings for Study One indicate gamer type plays a role in how respondents engage with and perceive the video game industry as well as how they perceive engagement with other consumers. Study Two demonstrates how engagement strategies in promotional materials varied between the poorly-reviewed games. Journalistic critics referred to information in the promotional material to illustrate and evaluate publisher-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer engagement. Finally, Study Three produced insights into the contents of conversations between gamers on platform Reddit. The observed conversational themes contradicted journalist descriptions and evaluations of consumer-to-consumer engagement. Overall, these three studies work together to contribute and extend engagement theory by helping researchers and practitioners alike understand how a presumably active consumer group, such as video game consumers, engage with businesses and other consumers.
Hodgdon, Katharine Connor (2018). Why Good Games Go Bad: Exploring Consumer Engagement in Video Game Communities. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from