Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


School of Communication

First Advisor

Kevin Meyer, PhD

Second Advisor

John Baldwin, PhD

Third Advisor

Phil Chidester, PhD


Online video games are perceived as a hostile space that welcomes aggression and verbal abuse based on biological sex, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Therefore, video game players may choose to communicate in a supportive fashion toward other players or engage in toxic behaviors due to increased aggression and masculine norms. While scholars have been investigating supportive messages in a computer-mediated context, past research inquiries into supportive communication and video gaming have remained separate. The present study will connect these disparate lines of research. This study explores different levels of verbal person-centeredness (VPC) of support messages, combined with the sex of the message producer, and how these factors impact several video game-based relational outcomes, namely relational closeness, aggression, communication satisfaction, and overall quality of gameplay experience. Participants were presented with one of the six randomly assigned scenarios based on a 3 (high, moderate, and low VPC messages) x 2 (male vs. female voices) factorial design, then asked to answer survey questions. Results indicated that VPC were more effective than the sexes of the message providers through voice recognition at affecting changes in the dependent variables, and having a teammate communicating in HPC messages is effective at improving the participants’ relationship with their teammates and gaming quality. However, there were no significant differences in aggression between groups. Implications and directions for future research are then discussed.

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