How does multi-tasking influence the player experience ?

multitasking behaviorHow do task interuptions and multitasking affect the player experience ? There are several reasons why a player can interupt his task. In game elements can distract him from his current goal and replace it by a new, secundary one. Real life can also interfere with the gaming experience and involve task interuptions in play.

In order to gather a better understanding of the inpact of task interuptions on the gaming experience, we have conducted a short study on task interuption. We asked players to tell us what else they did (in real life) while playing, and how it affected their experience.

Participants were asked to answer the following two questions shortly after each play session they did, through a short online form :

  • Did you do anything else while playing ? If yes, what did you do? What happened in game meanwhile ?
  • How did it affect your playing experience ?

The participants

We gathered data about 228 sessions, played by 184 participants. Let’s have a look at their profiles.

Participants are mainly males

hommefemme

Men 147 88%
Women 20 12%

Participants are mainly young adults.

age

Under 18 4 2%
18 to 25 years old 51 31%
26 to 35 years old 95 57%
36 to 45 years old 13 8%
45 to 55 years old 3 2%
56 to 65 years old 0 0%
over 66 years old 0 0%

 48% of participants declared playing over 13 hours a week

87% responses were collected within 24h

Participants are mostly regular players. 9% only declared playing 4 hours per week.

Less than one hour per week 1 1%
1h to 4h 14 8%
5 to 12h 72 43%
13h to 20h 59 35%
over 20h 21 13%

Most participants played at home

94% players were at home or at a friend's place

At home / a friend’s place 157 94%
In a public place (parc, restaurant, …) 0 0%
In transport (car, train, subway…) 4 2%
In a gaming area (arcade, internet cafe…) 0 0%
At work / School 6 4%

About 2/3 of participants played on computer

homme-femme

Console 23 14%
Handheld console 24 14%
Computer 111 66%
Tablet 1 1%
Smartphone / mobile 8 5%

Fresh memories about recent gaming sessions

In order to avoid false memories and general answers, we asked the participants to refer to their last gaming session and tell us how far ago it was. We limited records to answers that were recorded the same day as the game session. Over 46% of the responses were gathered within 1 hour after the play session and 80% of the responses were gathered less than 4h after the play session.

moment_session

Right now 20 12%
Less than one hours ago 56 34%
Less than 4 hours ago 57 34%
Less than 8 hours ago 26 16%
Over 8 hours ago (today) 8 5%

Do players actually multitask ?

Did not multitask 26%
Did multitask 74%

Out of the 228 game sessions for which we recorded answer, players did something else at the same time in 3/4 of the sessions.

multitask

In only 9% of these cases, participants declared it had a negative impact on their gaming experience. In 42% of the cases, they reported it had a positive effect on their gaming experience.

Half the multitasking experiences were positive

When players are multitasking, what do they do aside from playing ?

Out of all the activities participants did while playing, the top ten reported activities are summarized in the folowing table. “% of tasks” indicates that 10% of multitasking players are actually browsing the web while playing. “% of users” indicates that 10% of all users browse the web while playing.

% of tasks % of users
Surf online 10% 10%
Chat / Text / Mail / facebook 10% 9%
Talk (live) 10% 9%
Drink something 10% 9%
Make cofee / Tea 9% 9%
Watch videos / TV 8% 8%
Smoke 7% 6%
Eat something 6% 6%
Talk over Skype / Teamspeak with a non player 5% 5%
Listen to music / Radio 5% 5%

Why do users multitask during game sessions ? When and why is it a positive or negative experience to them ? Are there differences in user behaviors depending upon the device they play on, or the game they play ? Stay tuned for more insights on multitasking in games.

What about you, do you sometimes do something else while playing ? If so, is it a good or a bad thing, and when do you multitask ?

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