Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School

Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Rebecca A. Kuehl


Game Studies, Persuasion, Pyramid of Narrative Parasocial Engagement, Rhetorical Field Methods, Video Games


Video game narratives and characters are some of the most enjoyable and persuasive components of the video game industry. While narratives and character relationships within video games have been examined separately, there is no working model and little research attempting to bridge the connection between narratives and character relationships. This research combines Narrative Paradigm Theory and Parasocial Relationships to understand how narratives and character relationships influence each other in video game environments. This was done through rhetorical field methods, utilizing a focus group and narrative rhetorical analysis on the transcript of the focus group. Results provide a working model coined the Pyramid of Narrative Parasocial Engagement. This model explains how video game players can be rhetorically satisfied and thus persuaded through achieving different levels of video game engagement. The levels of the pyramid include Avatar Identification, Narrative Involvement, Parasocial Relationships, Community Engagement, and Rhetorical Satisfaction. A player must achieve the base level and work their way up the pyramid similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Results further indicate that the level a player achieves on the pyramid influences the level of narrative blending between their video game micro-narrative and their real-life grand narrative, and thus a higher influence to be persuaded in value, belief, or action to the video game’s persuasive goal. This research implies that the Uses and Gratifications model of using media to satisfy needs may not be fully realized as the working model argues players use video games to reach a real community to engage with rather than being content with the narrative and parasocial relationships the game provides. Future research should test the Pyramid of Narrative Parasocial Engagement using other methodologies.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Video games -- Social aspects.
Video game characters.
Narration (Rhetoric)


South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright