Pena, J., & Hancock, J.T. (2006). An analysis of instrumental and socio-emotional content in online multi-player videogames. Communication Research, 33, 92-109.
Communication within recreational computer-mediated settings has received less attention than interaction in instrumental and organizational contexts. The present study compared the socioemotional and task-oriented content of 5,826 text messages produced by participants of an online video game. The results suggest that participants produced significantly more socioemotional than task content. Consistent with predictions flowing from Social Information Processing Theory, the vast majority of messages were socioemotional and positively valenced, despite the ostensible game objective of fighting other participants. Experience level played an important role in message production. More experienced participants produced both more positive and fewer negative socioemotional messages than the less experienced and used more specialized language conventions (e.g., emoticons, scripted emotes, and abbreviations). The results are discussed in the context of previous research examining the effect of communication medium and interaction purpose on socioemotional and task message production.