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Are there cultural differences in how we play? Examining cultural effects on playing social network games

Digital games embedded in social network sites are one of the driving forces behind the expansion of digital gamer populations. Previous studies have observed different usage patterns between users in different ethnic groups and countries, suggesting that culture orientations may affect how people play and interact through social network games. This study examined how people’s culture orientations affect usage patterns with measures of vertical and horizontal individualism-collectivism. The findings indicate that culture does not directly affect usage patterns. Instead, the effects on usage patterns are mediated by people’s expected outcomes of playing social network games. Vertical culture orientations predicted social expected outcomes. Individualism predicted status expected outcomes, but in different directions on the dimensions of vertical or horizontalness. Vertical collectivism was the only culture orientation that indirectly predicted buying in-game products with real money. Implications for game designers and markers are discussed. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.