gamers, whether we play casually, competitively or as professionals, we have
all spent countless hours and many late, even sleepless nights playing video
games. What drives us to do this, what compels us to such extremes like nothing
else can, and why do we continue to come back for more? With this paper I will
examine research conducted on why we play games and how they can help us improve
in areas like teaching and in work, as well as investigating both the positive
and negative effects they can create for our modern society.
computer/video gaming in specific is a rather young medium, sociologists and
psychologists have just begun to understand and unravel the reasons behind why
we have this powerful desire or even obsession towards gaming.
Rigby helped found Immersyve after acquiring his Ph.D. in clinical and social
psychology from the university of Rochester. Immersyve is a research company
created to examine the psychology of human needs and to determine what makes
video games so captivating. After
years of collecting data from game companies such as Activision, EA and Sony,
Immersyve created ‘three invisible needs’ as the main motivators for why we
play. Today Immersyve
help companies motivate and engage their employees as well as ‘win lasting
customer loyalty’ through behavioral science.
In the book ‘Glued
to Games: How Videogames Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound’ by Scott Rigby and Richard M.
Ryan. It is put forward that “we all have basic psychological needs… These
needs are always operating. Games perfectly target several of these needs.”
psychological needs or the ‘Self Determination Theory’ can be narrowed down
into three basic areas. The first category posed to us is competence, meaning
the aspiration to progress and to gain more control over a game or ‘level up’.
Just like in our real lives we want to be successful, in video games this is
usually achieved by full completion or mastery of a game. It could even be a
personal goal to become the best in a certain sub category such as a type of
class. This is much more prevalent in competitive online games as it gives
superiority to the user who has put the most time into the game. By either
gaining more physical skill with practice, or obtaining items and unlocks
giving a competitive advantage in the game. Other players can also reinforce a
feeling of incompetence, inspiring further progression in the ‘lower level’
people, it is natural that we feel the need to progress and expand upon our
knowledge and take pleasure in our accomplishments. If we are successful in
reaching the goals the game sets us, it reassures our feeling of competence.
Autonomy is the second of these needs, it allows a
player to feel independent and fulfils the desire to have control over our and
others actions and future. In the real world, we hate to be manipulated or
controlled and autonomy is the reason why imprisonment and confinement work so
well as a punishments, reliving a person of their right to choose and basic
freedom. Games allow the player to always be in control without any real
consequences. Games that allow more freedom to the player are some of the most
crowd-pleasing. They continue to grow in popularity due to