Insight: Exploring Hidden Roles in Collaborative Play

  • Tricia Shi Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Game Lab
  • Bruno Tambasco Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Game Lab


This paper looks into interaction modes between players in co-located, collaborative games. In particular, hidden traitor games, in which one or more players is secretly working against the group mission, has the effect of increasing paranoia and distrust between players, so this paper looks into the opposite of a hidden traitor – a hidden benefactor. Rather than sabotaging the group mission, the hidden benefactor would help the group achieve the end goal while still having a reason to stay hidden. The paper explores what games with such a role can look like and how the role changes player interactions. Finally, the paper addresses the divide between video game and board game interaction modes; hidden roles are not common within video games, but they are of growing prevalence in board games. This fact, combined with the exploration of hidden benefactors, reveals that hidden roles is a mechanic that video games should develop into in order to match board games’ complexity of player interaction modes.


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June 17, 2015