The Art of Tug of War: Investigating the Influence of Remote Touch on Social Presence in a Distributed Rope Pulling Game

Proceedings of the 10th International Conference, ACE 2013 (2013), pp. 246-257, doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-03161-3_17

Can remote touch in the form of force feedback from another player's actions increase feelings of social presence and enjoyment in collaborative games?


    Haptic Fidelity
  • haptic quality - force feedback on the rope either elastic or generated from the other user's actions.
System Info

  • monitor - two monitors, one for the game and one for a video connection to the other participant
Input Hardware
  • haptic - rope-pulling device (a wooden box with a rope coming out connected to a wheel and servo motor inside, with load cell and arduino micro-controller)

Single computer with bifurcated video signal; headphones; microphone

Participant Info

The participants were students or employees of a Dutch university and were organized in pairs. Most participants did not know their partner beforehand.

Total # Age Range Gender Balance
40 18 - 62

Users played a collaborative game displayed on the monitor with another user in a different location. Users could communicate through a video and audio call. Users moved baskets horizontally on the screen to catch falling eggs. Control was through pulling the rope from the input device. In the test condition, users controlled one basket together, and force feedback on the rope was based on the other user's pull force. One user moved the basket to the left and one to the right by pulling. In the control condition, users controlled separate baskets, one of which would automatically move left unless the rope was pulled to move it right, and vice versa for the other. In both cases, score was calculated as the total amount of eggs caught.

Interaction and Environment


Users were located in different rooms, but saw the same thing on each of their screens. The rope device was a wooden box attached to a table with a rope coming out of a hole in the front, which the users pulled on to control their basket.

The screen showed a solid color background, a score in the top left, and either one or two baskets (of different colors) based on the condition. Eggs fell from the top of the screen and users moved their baskets, located at the bottom of the screen, to catch the falling eggs.

Dimensionality Scale Density Visual Realism
2.5D Small Low Low

  • presence - 6-question social presence questionnaire
  • user preference - 7-question questionnaire on game experience
  1. There was a significant direct effect of haptic quality on presence for a interactive experience of the ve task.

    The test group (force feedback from the other user) rated their social presence higher than the control group.

    Specificity: Somewhat general