Country Roads through 1s and 0s: Sense of place for and recognition of West Virginia following long-term engagement with Fallout 76

Nicholas Bowman, Jaime Banks, Christine Rittenour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Invoking Tuan’s cultural–geographic notion of sense of place (SoP), this study examined the potential for video game play to foster a sense of affective familiarity with (emotional connection) and abstract understanding of (place recollection) actual physical locations rendered in digital environments. A total of 556 players of Fallout 76 were asked about their SoP for and recollection of West Virginia (WV) 2 weeks prior to the game’s launch (T1), with follow-up questions 2 weeks (T2) and 2 months (T3) following the game’s launch. SoP scores were compared between WV natives and non-natives, with the expectation that natives would have greater SoP scores prior to gameplay. The expected T1 SoP gap was found, but this gap closed for all players at T2, with non-natives experiencing a significant increase in their SoP for WV on par with natives’ feelings of the same. For those no longer playing, T3 SoP scores returned to T1 (preplay) levels. Effects on place recollection (such as recalling
Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnology, Mind, & Behavior
StatePublished - 2020

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