The Quirks of Being a Wallflower: Towards Defining Lurkers and Loners in Games through A Systematic Literature Review

Enrica Loria, Lennart E. Nacke, Johanna Pirker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Research support that online multiplayer games build social capital and contribute to people's well-being. Players build meaningful, strong relationships through games, resulting in complex communities, similar to traditional Online Social Networks (OSNs). In OSNs, the vast majority of the population consists of invisible users consuming content rather than actively engaging with the community: lurkers. While lurkers have been well-researched in OSNs, they have been under-investigated in games. In games, their behaviour may limit the social potential a game provides. Besides the big knowledge gap concerning lurkers in multiplayer environments, it is also yet unclear how lurkers differ from another class of non-social players: loners. In this work, we review and analyze the Games User Research (GUR) literature to understand (a) how lurkers and loners are defined in games and (b) which characteristics they exhibit. Our contributions are definitions of lurkers and loners in games and a future research agenda outlining opportunities to study them.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExtended Abstracts of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI EA 2021
PublisherAssociation of Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380959
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2021
Event2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Making Waves, Combining Strengths: CHI 2021 - Virtual, Online, Japan
Duration: 8 May 202113 May 2021


Conference2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: Making Waves, Combining Strengths
CityVirtual, Online


  • In-game behaviors
  • Loners
  • Lurkers
  • Online Multiplayer Games
  • Social Network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Software

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