Conversation dynamics in a multiplayer video game with knowledge asymmetry

James Simpson, Patrick Nalepka*, Rachel W. Kallen, Mark Dras, Erik D. Reichle, Simon G. Hosking, Christopher Best, Deborah Richards, Michael J. Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Despite the challenges associated with virtually mediated communication, remote collaboration is a defining characteristic of online multiplayer gaming communities. Inspired by the teamwork exhibited by players in first-person shooter games, this study investigated the verbal and behavioral coordination of four-player teams playing a cooperative online video game. The game, Desert Herding, involved teams consisting of three ground players and one drone operator tasked to locate, corral, and contain evasive robot agents scattered across a large desert environment. Ground players could move throughout the environment, while the drone operator’s role was akin to that of a “spectator” with a bird’s-eye view, with access to veridical information of the locations of teammates and the to-be-corralled agents. Categorical recurrence quantification analysis (catRQA) was used to measure the communication dynamics of teams as they completed the task. Demands on coordination were manipulated by varying the ground players’ ability to observe the environment with the use of game “fog.” Results show that catRQA was sensitive to changes to task visibility, with reductions in task visibility reorganizing how participants conversed during the game to maintain team situation awareness. The results are discussed in the context of future work that can address how team coordination can be augmented with the inclusion of artificial agents, as synthetic teammates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1039431
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • conversation
  • multiplayer video game
  • recurrence quantification analysis
  • role asymmetries
  • team coordination
  • team situation awareness


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