Role-Playing with Robot Characters

Increasing User Engagement through Narrative and Gameplay

User Researcher
Data Analyst

Spencer Ng
Ting-han Lin
Sarah Sebo

Oct 2022 - Dec 2023

Live entertainment is moving towards a greater participatory culture, with dynamic narratives told through audience interaction. Robot characters offer a unique opportunity to mitigate the challenges of creating personalized entertainment at scale. In this work, we explore methods to increase user agency in live entertainment experiences with robot characters to improve user engagement and enjoyment. In a between-subjects study (N = 60), we create an immersive story where users role-play as detectives with two distinct robot characters. Our results show that increasing user agency in a role-playing experience, in either its narrative or its gameplay, improves users’ flow state, sense of autonomy and competence, verbal engagement, and perceptions of the robot characters’ engagement.
The research paper "Role-Playing with Robot Characters: Increasing User Engagement through Narrative and Gameplay" is accepted as a full paper for presentation and publication in the 2024 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2024). Only 24.9% of submissions were selected as full papers to be included in the proceedings. We look forward to presenting the paper at the HRI conference in Boulder, Colorado in March of 2024!