Group polarisation among location-based game players: an analysis of use and attitudes towards game slang

Samuli Laato, Nobufumi Inaba, Mauri Paloheimo, Teemu Daniel Laajala
2021 Internet Research  
PurposeThis study investigates how game design, which divides players into static teams, can reinforce group polarisation. The authors study this phenomenon from the perspective of social identity in the context of team-based location-based games, with a focus on game slang.Design/methodology/approachThe authors performed an exploratory data analysis on an original dataset of n = 242,852 messages from five communication channels to find differences in game slang adoption between three teams in
more » ... he location-based augmented reality game Pokémon GO. A divisive word "jym" (i.e. a Finnish slang derivative of the word "gym") was discovered, and players' attitudes towards the word were further probed with a survey (n = 185). Finally, selected participants (n = 25) were interviewed in person to discover any underlying reasons for the observed polarised attitudes.FindingsThe players' teams were correlated with attitudes towards "jym". Face-to-face interviews revealed association of the word to a particular player subgroup and it being used with improper grammar as reasons for the observed negative attitudes. Conflict over (virtual) territorial resources reinforced the polarisation.Practical implicationsGame design with static teams and inter-team conflict influences players' social and linguistic identity, which subsequently may result in divisive stratification among otherwise cooperative or friendly player-base.Originality/valueThe presented multi-method study connecting linguistic and social stratification is a novel approach to gaining insight on human social interactions, polarisation and group behaviour in the context of location-based games.
doi:10.1108/intr-03-2020-0158 fatcat:xvxopffzpfh4td2hzax36exqlu