Developing Player Attachment to Artificial Intelligence Companion Characters

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Artificial intelligence companions in video games can provide a great emotional anchor point for immersing a player in the game’s narrative. Well-developed companions give players someone to emphasize with, someone to share in the experience of saving the world (or destroying it, depending on the game). Companions aid immersion in the narrative by enhancing the reality of the game; they complete the illusion of a living, thinking person that players directly affect through their actions.

This study investigates how a player’s control over a companion affects their attachment to the companion and narrative immersion. It builds on prior research into both attachment to video game characters and immersion in a game’s narrative. The results suggest that when players have control over a companion, they play the game more and experience the narrative less and vice versa. The interesting relationship revealed between the three calls for further research into other types of immersion, such as tactical and strategic. Investigating immersion and attachment as they relate to control gives developers more tools to create compelling and engaging gameplay experiences.

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