Roleplay and Community Gaming; how the use of streaming technologies enhance trust in gaming environments where players roleplay characters through pseudonym and false identity.


The purpose of this paper is to argue that streaming technologies enhance trust in gaming environments where players roleplay characters through pseudonyms and false identity. Through methods of researching Grand Theft Auto Five (GTAV) (Rockstar North, 2013) game mechanics, the streaming service Twitch (, and focusing on the FiveM (CitizenFX, 2014) server The Family RP (FiveM, 2014) to demonstrate how trust is formed within these communities through the rules and communication methods within them. Further research found that stronger communities were dependent upon a higher level of communication and trust within their server of play. This trust being backed by self-presentation desire to present identity through characters and avatars, commitment to the game, visual/verbal communication, strict server rules that pertain to the ruled (ludus) and unruled (paidia) spaces theory, deludic strategies (cheats) that lead the community to play with the game rules rather than by them.  This paper researched the paradigms required within various communities to form the trust needed to maintain positive gaming environments; and concluded that gaming communities with accessible communication resources are stronger, forging a greater sense of community.


Keywords: community, thefamilyrp, roleplay, fivem, trust, identity, streaming, twitch, communication, GTAV, rules, game rules, game, player.


Roleplay and Community Gaming; how the use of streaming technologies enhance trust in gaming environments where players roleplay characters through pseudonym and false identity.


Throughout this paper I will argue the idea that streaming technologies help to build trust in gaming environments where pseudonyms and false identity are imperative to their existence. Specifically, Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North, 2013), through the massively multiplayer online (MMO) roleplay servers linked via FiveM (CitizenFx 2014). I will discuss the mechanics of this roleplay game design, delve into how trust is built between the player/s and those who watch through Twitch (, with the aid of voice and visualisation, as well as the trust needed within the environment of play for the gamers character. For clarity, I will relate specifically to the GTAV (Rockstar North, 2013) FiveM (CitizenFx 2014) server, The Family RP (FiveM 2014), and draw from Koivisto’s Supporting Communities in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games by Game Design (2003).


Roleplay within games is not a new concept. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) are played with the aid of MMO games, often within the persistent state worlds (PSW) that maintain them. Persistent state worlds (PSW), or persistent worlds (PW), are defined by Techopedia ( as, “a virtual gaming environment that continues to change even after a user has logged off. Persistent-state worlds follow their own internal clock, and events continue to unfold while the gamer is logged off, which can impact the gameplay when the gamer returns.” In this case, that world is the virtual city of San Andreas, within the game GTAV (Rockstar North, 2013). This is the virtual reality for players of the FiveM (CitizenFx 2014), The Family RP (FiveM 2014) server. There are several rules and guidelines that users must adhere to play within this whitelisted server. A whitelisted server is much like the original definition of various other whitelisted services to help in “emails and IP addresses being spam free” ( only, in this context, it relates directly to moderators/developers/administrators of a specific server whitelisting gamers to a selected few, to restrict the server from being used inappropriately by trolls or gamers inexperienced in that servers level of role-play expectations, or rules ( It is with this strict selection criteria that players, specifically within The Family Rp (FiveM, 2014) server, can be confident in their characters role-play emersion being untarnished by others that do not take their style of play, and their characters development, as serious. This helps to eliminate the players who enter servers where serious roleplay is paramount, but who do not take their own roleplay to the serious level predetermined via that server’s rules. These players ruin the emersion experience for other players and their viewers. Specific game rules solidify the in-game mechanics for the players to co-operate and maintain the servers worldview of play; a shared purpose providing a reason for community (Koivisto, 2003).

Combine these rules with social identity theory and self-presentation already associated with character development and human-like avatars. Social identity theory relates to self-concept-ideas (how one perceives oneself) and images of oneself, while, self-presentation desire involves expressing self-image (Park, Chung, 2011, p. 2). The flexibility to play within various stereotypical areas of “types of living” within the San Andreas mapping system, and the freedom to control characters to form their stories, GTAV (Rockstar North, 2013) provides the platform for social identity theory (Park, Chung, 2011, p. 2). Park and Chung (2011) suggest that it is this achievement of self-presentation desire in MMORPGs, the guilds and clans (communities/groups) formed, along with the sense of community born from those clans, that generates trust and “a psychological attachment that resembles a sense of belonging and promotes commitments” (p.2).  Park and Chung (2011) go on to further detail that “trust of the game spaces and other gamers will bring higher commitments to the games” (p. 3), and furthermore that, “trust has a positive effect on the commitments to an online game community” (p. 4).

These same community trust mechanics mentioned above, and instilled in players within the game, can be formed within communities outside of the game through various streaming services, such as Twitch ( Twitch allows others not playing within a specific game to watch play-through through the stream uploaded by gamers who chose to do so. Twitch states on their website, “…you don’t just watch Twitch, you’re part of the show” ( The platform allows walls between traditional game playing and game sharing to be knocked down, so that almost any game, at any time, can be viewed through other participant’s gameplay, from anywhere you have an internet connection. Koivisto (2003) states that, “the more often the player can contact other players, the more likely he is to actively contribute to the game’s social framework” (p. 2). This same idea could also then apply to the viewers whom watch games being played. Many players within The Family RP (FiveM 2014) use Twitch to showcase their characters roleplay streams. Twitch provides an interactive viewer chat service that allows viewers to subscribe to their favourite gamers channels, receiving customized channel emotes (emoticons) to use within the streamers Twitch chat. Visual representation of both the in-game character and offline player through webcam, so the viewer can see the in-game character as well as the player. Audio for the streamer to interact with the game, and their viewers separately. And guild/clan-like capabilities with viewers able to subscribe to their favourite gamers channels. Koivisto (2003) agrees that “a good verbal communication system in MMORPG should support using different chat channels” and “ways to send messages to others and see if they are logged in the world” (p. 4) and further found, through player research, that this guild like system of interaction ‘enforces the feeling of belonging and encourages members to help each other’ (p. 7) and, Ba (2001), (as cited in Yao and Chang, 2014) said that ‘it costs less to build trust at the community-level than at the individual level’ (p. 3).  Twitch provides the catalyst for this community trust. Mayer et al (1995), (as cited in Yao and Chang, 2014) define that trust is,


…the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party (p. 8).


Streaming allows for face-to-face communication without the need for direct human contact, within a community known stereotypically for its isolation. Stronger than the trust built through visual representations is trust that stems from verbal communications.

Seppala (2017) states in her research article, on whether we gain more from voice communication than visual, that “voice may be a far more reliable predictor than the face, especially if we can devote our complete attention to it” (p. 11). Further studies by Kraus (2017) found “that we are more accurate when we hear someone’s voice than when we look only at their facial expressions, or see their face and hear their voice” (p. 645). Through these stronger verbal connections, within these streaming services where it is mandatory to communicate verbally, that this method helps those players involved to make better judgements towards those they trust on the server of play. Kraus (2017) goes on to state that one of the factors for this understanding may be “that speakers are less likely to be able to alter their tone to disguise their feelings” (p. 645). By focusing on voice alone and just the one whom you are receiving the information or emotion, then your perception of emotion is most accurate (Kraus, 2017, p. 645). This need for verbal technologies and the option for players to be able to communicate verbally with their peers is becoming a strong need to have developers providing options for VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) capabilities within their productions. One of the members of The Family Rp (FiveM 2014) Timmac ( called for all games, and their developers to “please, for the love of god, give us a way to communicate” by including VoIP and modification capabilities into their development processes, and touches on the importance of these systems in games for the formation of communities around them (kQuantumK, 2017).

In The Evolution of Trust (Case, 2017), a mathematical game of trust and character traits, the creator states, through equations and sequences of interactivity, that miscommunication is a barrier to trust: “a little bit of it leads to forgiveness, but too much and it leads to widespread distrust!” ( Case (2017) goes on to set out three categories needed for trust to evolve; repeat interactions, possible win-wins, and low miscommunication. She concludes that in all game theory, what the game is, defines what the players do (Case, 2017). This would have merit when applied to the server The Family RP (FiveM 2014). The trust amongst players is proven in the positive player-to-player interactions within the server and ongoing sense of camaraderie both on and off screen. Many of those gamers affiliated with the server interact with each other off server in other games, streaming individually, playing together, for their viewing communities. It is with the rules, and those whom follow them, laid out by the administration and moderators of The Family RP (FiveM 2014) server, that are imperative to this trusted, successful, and supportive environment. In relation to this theory, Kuchlick (2009) defines the constructs of movement between spaces governed by rules and those not, by stating;


…ruled space affords a different form of movement than unruled space, just like a ruled sheet of paper suggests a different mode of engagement than an unruled one. Although nothing prevents us from writing on unruled paper or drawing on ruled paper, there are clear conventions of use that make certain forms of use appear more natural than others. In the same way, ruled and unruled spaces insinuate, rather than enforce, certain forms of movement (p. 159).


Ruled and unruled spaces, or servers with no predetermined rules, are why some players, within the many available roleplay servers accessible, can have more negative experiences to others. The environments, or communities, governed by more structured and enforced rules shape and predetermine that avenue and mental state of play embodied by those who engage within them. Broken rules and game mechanics may lead one into assuming these physical changes to the original structure of gameplay, specifically within The Family RP (FiveM 2014) server, only add to the discombobulation of trust within the game itself. It could be said, that with every game played the player is accepting some level of direct or indirect roleplay. Direct depending on the game played. The Family RP (FiveM 2014) server could be direct and someone playing Red Dead Redemption (2010) or Mario Cart (1992) would be indirect. Indirect because that player has not made a conscious decision to enact the characters within the game, but rather be led by them as if they were living in a known reality. Kuchlick (2009) theorises gameplay as ‘not to be understood as a solipsistic identification with the computer but rather as a chaosmotic (an adaptive strategy, both physical and mental, given an environment of continuous flux. (chaosmosis, 2003) (Guattari, 1995, as cited in Kuchlick 2009) motion that draws ordinary life into gamespace and scatters fragments of gamespace into ordinary life’ (p. 167). This discombobulation between gaming spaces moves player pseudonym and identity, and character pseudonym and identity closer together. The reality of roleplay becomes less virtual, and those role-playing become more of themselves within their characters, through GTAV’s (Rockstar North, 2013) character adaption mechanics.

Role-player’s take on the character/s they play as their own persona or one created, assimilated through their own voices and the games mode of play simulation. Caillois (1958/1961) suggests that games can be considered to lie at various points on an axis between Paidia, free creativity, and Ludus rule-bound complexity. Paidia being “a word covering the spontaneous manifestations of the play instinct” (p. 28). And Ludus representing “a growing tendency to bind with arbitrary, imperative, and purposely tedious conventions” (Caillois, 1958/1961, p. 13). Together ludus “disciplines and enriches” paidia through a process that “give[s] the fundamental categories of play their purity and excellence” (Caillois 1958/1961, p. 33). Kuchlick (2009) narrows this further, suggesting the terms ruled space and unruled space, with each of these spaces being governed by some level of ruledness but that all these spaces can overlap. This overlap is apparent within The Family RP (FiveM 2014) server, as rules are defined for the way of play and for the reality of play, to resemble real-world as much as possible. However, these rules can still be blurred by the free will of those playing behind the characters. Kuchlick (2009) refers to deludic strategies (cheats) as going,


beyond representation, but they leave the representational surface of games intact; they are double movements of demystification and remystification (Friedman, 1995 as cited in Kuchlick, 2009). This is what it means to be playing with the rules rather than by the rules, weaving in and out of gamespace… (p. 167).


This fluidity of how game rules within GTAV (Rockstar North, 2013) apply on The Family RP (FiveM,2014) is why the trust and sense of community within flourishes.

In an online article, Paul Suddaby (2013) investigates why some gaming communities are more positive than others and maintains that each “games delivery system is integral in fostering a certain type of community” (p. 14).  Suddaby (2013) further discusses League of Legends management system for players online who break the rules or conduct themselves inappropriately within the game “including a strict banning system for those who leave games, a player-driven tribunal for reported players, and even an honour system to give notice to those who are called out by their fellow players” (p. 29). Koivisto (2003) says that “a world inhabited by all types of players (… achievers, explorers, socializers, and killers) in balance is more likely to produce a sense of community” (p. 5). The Family RP (FiveM 2014) have similar attributes for the use of their server; a council that oversees reported users who have broken in-game and/or server rules, and a list of basic rules that include the use of derogatory remarks; including that of race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. There appears to be one strong solidifier in the fruition of roleplay games becoming successful, along with the communities/guilds/clans that interact and evolve from these roleplay MMORPGs; and that is the idea that Role-playing needs to be carefully framed, negotiated and maintained to happen at all (Mayra, 2017).

In conclusion, gaming communities are stronger depending on the level of communication available (Koivisto 2003), as such those within The Family RP (FiveM 2017) who stream via streaming services such as Twitch ( have a greater sense of community. Communities cannot be formed without trust and communication. In streaming communities like The Family RP (FiveM 2017) where players roleplay characters through manipulated pseudonyms created by the gamer and not enforced via in-game mechanics, trust is needed within the world of play for in-game rules to be followed and adhered to, to maintain upkeep for a positive community.


You can view and/or download this paper in PDF format below:

Roleplay and Community Gaming; how the use of streaming technologies enhance trust in gaming environments where players roleplay characters through pseudonym and false identity.




Bael, Vangie. (n.d.). whitelist. Retrieved From


Caillous, R. (1958/1961). Man, Play and Games. Translated by Meyer Barash [PDF file]. University of Illinois Press: The Free Press. Retrieved from


Case, N. (2017). The Evolution of Trust. Retrieved from


Chaosmosis, 2003. Retrieved from


CitizenFX Collective. (2014). FiveM [Modification Framework/server].


FiveM (2014). The Family RP [server].


Jensen, G. H. (2013). Making sense of play in video games: Ludus, paidia, and possibility spaces. Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture, 7, 69-80.


Koivisto, E. (2003). Supporting Communities in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games by Game Design [PDF file]. Paper presented at the Digital Games Research Association Conference. Retrieved from


kQuantumK. (Publisher). (2017, October 20). TheFamilyRP Panel – TwitchCon 2017 (with chat) [Video File]. Retrieved from


Kraus, M. (2017). Listeners Glean Emotions Better from Voice-Only Communications. Retrieved From


Kuchlick, J. (2009). Games and Culture. A Techno-Semiotic Approach to Cheating in Computer Games: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Machine [PDF file]. University of London: Sage publications. 10.1177/1555412008325486


Mayra, F. (2017). Dialogue and Interaction in Role-Playing Games: Playful Communication as Ludic Culture [PDF file]. Retrieved from


Nintendo Intelligent Systems. (1992). Mario Cart [Video Game]. Japan: Nintendo.


Park, S., & Chung, N. (2011). Mediating roles of self-presentation desire in online game community commitment and trust behavior of Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Computers in Human Behaviour, 2, 2372-2379.

Rockstar North. (2013). Grand Theft Auto V [Video Game]. Scotland: Rockstar Games.


Rockstar San Diego. (2010). Red Dead Redemption [Video Game]. California: Rockstar Games.


Seppala, E. (2017). Does Your Voice Reveal More Emotion Than Your Face? Retrieved From


Suddaby, P. (2013). Why Some Games Have Positive Online Communities and Others Don’t. Retrieved from–gamedev-8443


Techopedia. (n.d.). Persistent State World (PSW). Retrieved from


Techopedia. (n.d.). Whitelisted. Retrieved from


Yao, Y., & Chang, V. (2014). Towards Trust and Trust Building in a Selected Cloud Gaming Virtual Community. International Journal of Organizational and Collective Intelligence (IJOCI), 4(2), 64-86. doi:10.4018/ijoci.2014040104



Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.



6 thoughts on “Roleplay and Community Gaming; how the use of streaming technologies enhance trust in gaming environments where players roleplay characters through pseudonym and false identity.

  1. What an interesting read. I’m not a gamer but have a personal understanding from watching my 15 year old communicating with others in online spaces. It is interesting to watch the communication happening, yet neither party knows each others real world name however, they will play together often. It also makes me think of ‘Ready Player One’ and how these games will change in the (not so distant) future.
    My field is Education and it makes me wonder how this type of MMO world can create new opportunities for educating students that are disengaged.
    Great article Shan, I love your work.

    1. It’s so interesting watching children and teenagers engage with games in this format, because they interact differently to that of my generation. We took it as a novelty, in the beginning, something to play with, a toy. Kids now see it at something so much more than that. It’s a tool for them, a communicative tool and a new platform for interaction. Ready Player One is a great example! Although, it opens an entirely different topic for conversation, and breaches that line of reality and virtual becoming intertwined. I think we’re at the start of that with virtual reality slowly becoming the norm.
      I love games that are geared towards education also, there’s plenty of new development in that direction also. Gaming is becoming more a tool for interaction with others, than it’s previous identity with isolation.
      Thank you, Danny.

    2. Hi Shannon and Danny

      I have never been involved in any online games before as I feel I do not want to get addicted. It is so interesting how all these participants belong in an online community with false identities yet they all tend to trust each other in a specific zone. What I found most interesting is that these zones or environments are actually controlled. For instance, anyone misbehaving or breaking rules are banned from any form of participation. I guess that is probably why their is trust is evident within gaming communities.

  2. Hi Shannon,

    This was definitely a fascinating read, especially since I had not considered how the business-rules of a game can be used as a tool to help encourage trust, something I didn’t consider at first glance as restrictions and trust within communities didn’t appear to merge. Furthermore, not only can it help grow a community but also how it is used to filter out the bad weeds via the use of whitelisted servers as you mentioned – which in my view gives a community a bit of an exclusivity vibe, which clearly isn’t detrimental in the context of your paper.

    This type of community-exclusivity seems to be a viable solution to dealing with an unfortunate toxicity that exists in online games, where individuals would ruin the gaming experience for others where community administrators can go the step further than simply relying on in-game mechanisms to report troublesome users as you mentioned in the League of Legends example.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this read!

  3. Hi Shannon,
    Thanks for your well executed paper. It certainly provided some insights for me, being an outsider; a non-gamer.
    I can see the advantages of a web cam and audio (VoIP) added to the game environment to support chat and avatars, to improve communication and identity presentation, and so, create stronger community. These additional features would bring the whole gaming experience into closer similarity with our everyday real world experience where we have all our senses at our disposal to naturally assess a given situation. Understandably, this diversity of channelling and delivering information lends comfort and familiarity to the gaming experience with the ability to draw from a variety of information sources, and if all signals align, then this allows trust to ensue. This all makes sense to me.
    Your explanation of ruled and non-ruled and how this subtly guides the players in a nuanced way rather than forcibly boxing them into structured rules, allowing gamers controlled flexibility, has provided some wonderful clarity for me. I can see how this improves the game environment by increasing belonging-ness, leading gamers to self-monitor and call out rule infringements.
    Your thesis that the establishment of trust through rules and broader communication tools in online role-play games engenders a positive gaming community, is well-supported and convincing.
    Kind regards, Alice.

  4. Hi Sharron,

    You present a really strong argument, and I actually found it difficult to find points to argue on, particularly considering your strong and consistent sources. You presented very interesting concepts, including the one that mentions that having outside communication (like streaming) actually contributes to a better gaming experience within the game, and much stronger communities through team play.

    I agree that gaming teams and communities will be stronger if they communicate outside of text and the game itself – however, not just through Twitch, YouTube, and Skype, but also at physical events such as Internet cafes and gaming conventions. Meeting up physically creates a whole new dynamic that builds a physical relationship that is able to pair with the virtual relationships, building a much stronger online presence. Consider how people communicate differently with associates, compared to how they communicate with strangers in online situations. They are more likely to be open and caring, aren’t they? It would be more of an “us VS the game” rather than “me VS you”.

    I also agree that communities are much more likely to thrive when the gamer has the ability to explore and create their own stories. I actually experienced the frustration of not being able to do this recently, when playing the mobile version of “Sims”. I found out from my partner that all the characters that I pass in the game that have a blue Sims symbol above their heads are real players; I would have never known had she not told me, because there is almost no way that individuals are able to actually communicate with one another in the game, in a realistic way. My character has even married other Sims players, but I’m almost sure that they wouldn’t know I’m married to them on their side, because that’s only a part of my individual Sims story, not what they have chosen. There’s a certain barrier in this that I hate, which, it seems, lot of other MMORPGs seem to be able to fill.

    Great stuff, Sharron!

    Josephine Gunther

Comments are closed.