Comparing the Structures and Characteristics of Different Game Social Networks – The Steam Case

by   Enrica Loria, et al.

In most games, social connections are an essential part of the gaming experience. Players connect in communities inside or around games and form friendships, which can be translated into other games or even in the real world. Recent research has investigated social phenomena within the player social network of several multiplayer games, yet we still know very little about how these networks are shaped and formed. Specifically, we are unaware of how the game type and its mechanics are related to its community structure and how those structures vary in different games. This paper presents an initial analysis of Steam users and how friendships on Steam are formed around 200 games. We examine the friendship graphs of these 200 games by dividing them into clusters to compare their network properties and their specific characteristics (e.g., genre, game elements, and mechanics). We found how the Steam user-defined tags better characterized the clusters than the game genre, suggesting that how players perceive and use the game also reflects how they connect in the community. Moreover, team-based games are associated with more cohesive and clustered networks than games with a stronger single-player focus, supporting the idea that playing together in teams more likely produces social capital (i.e., Steam friendships).


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