“TO PLAY, OR TO BE?”:THE PSYCHOLOGY OF VIDEO GAMESNicholas David Bowman, Ph.D.
GAMES: MORE THAN GAMES?• Unquestioned popularity  –   $74B industry; rakes in $17B on a “down” year  –   Dominate sales of...
GAMES: MORE THAN GAMES?• Questioned phenomenology  – Brunt of research rooted squarely in S R ( O)  – Valuable, but miss...
STUDYING VIDEO, OR STUDYINGGAMES?• Moving parallel to S R ( O)  – What do gamers bring to the experience?  – What do we ...
Joeckel, S., Bowman, N. D., & Dogruel, L. (in press).Gut or game: The influence ofmoral intuitions on decisions in virtual...
PREMISE• Many popular video games  feature (encourage) anti-social acts• Player See  Player Do• ASSUMPTION: Player accept...
STUDY QUESTIONS• [in an non-biased environment]  – How do moral intuitions drive    in-game decisions?  – How does this pr...
RESULTS                                   A) Sig. ∆ High vs.   B) Non-random        C) Random                             ...
WHAT NEXT?• What does it mean for digital media?  – “game” reaction then “gut” is primed  – real world moral orientations ...
Tamborini, R., Bowman, N. D., Eden, A., Grizzard, M., & Organ, A. (2010). Definingmedia enjoyment as the satisfaction of i...
PREMISE• Games are played for fun, but  what is the functional role of fun?• Positive psychology suggests  that leisure is...
STUDY QUESTIONS
RESULTS
WHAT NEXT?• 51% of variance  explained, leaving 49% of  variance unaccounted for• Eudianomia and appreciation  (Oliver)  –...
Bowman, N. D., Schultheiss, D., Schumann, C. (2012)."I’m Attached, And I’m AGood Guy/Gal!": How Character Attachment Influ...
PREMISE• Media entertainment is  rife with evidence of  parasocial interactions• But in video games, is    My people, my c...
STUDY QUESTIONS• Character attachment is the “psychological  melding of player and character”• Do dimensions of CA predict...
RESULTS• Pro-social  motivations   – Sense of     control• Anti-social  motivations   – Suspension of     disbelief   – Se...
WHAT NEXT?• Differential types and levels of  attachment seem to be driving  how we behave virtually• As the lines between...
Limperos, A., Downs, E., Ivory, J, & Bowman, N. D. (in press). Leveling Up: AReview of Current and Emerging Areas of Inter...
PREMISE• The focus on media  effects tends to stilt our  opinions of gaming as  bad…• …yet this bad content can  be decide...
APPRECIATION• Video games  are fun, but  can they be  meaningful?
DISGUST AND DISINTEREST• “Profane game is  profane” …• …and Bogost (2012)  argues that this is  exactly the point!
“Research = Mesearch”CONCLUSION
FINDINGS, AND PARALLELS• We bring ourselves to the game  – (what do we bring back?)• We game to satisfy our needs  – (do g...
FOR MORE INFORMATIONPLEASE CONTACT:Nicholas David Bowman, Ph.D.Nicholas.Bowman@mail.wvu.eduonmediatheory.blogspot.com@bowm...
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Title: To Play, or to Be?" The Psychology of Video Games

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Abstract: The unquestioned popularity of video games as a pre-eminent source of entertainment has brought with it a renewed focus on the medium from the political and scholarly arenas. Games are an robust economic force, yet research tends to focus on their content as being "good" or "bad" rather than the experiences of the players themselves, which leaves our understanding of the phenomenology of the video game experience incomplete (at best) and inaccurate (at worst). To this end, Dr. Bowman's presentation will briefly review the current state of gaming research before suggesting ways in which scholars can pursue gaming research that compliments rather than replicates what has already been gleaned from more media effects-oriented studies, citing four exemplar studies.

Bio: Nick Bowman (Ph.D., Michigan State University) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at West Virginia University where he specializes in digital and social media technology - in particular, the motivations and uses of interactive media for entertainment, relational, informational and persuasive purposes. He has published nearly two dozen research articles in journals such as Computers in Human Behavior, Media Psychology, New Media and Society, and Journal of Communication and currently serves on the editorial board of Media Psychology and Journal of Media Psychology. He is an active member of National Communication Association and International Communication Association, and is an avid gamer of third- and fourth-generation video game consoles.

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  • Abstract: The unquestioned popularity of video games as a pre-eminent source of entertainment has brought with it a renewed focus on the medium from the political and scholarly arenas. Games are an robust economic force, yet research tends to focus on their content as being "good" or "bad" rather than the experiences of the players themselves, which leaves our understanding of the phenomenology of the video game experience incomplete (at best) and inaccurate (at worst). To this end, Dr. Bowman's presentation will briefly review the current state of gaming research before suggesting ways in which scholars can pursue gaming research that compliments rather than replicates what has already been gleaned from more media effects-oriented studies, citing four exemplar studies.
  • SDT theorySDT theory is a broad theory of human motivation that focuses on the degree to which human behaviors are volitional or self-determined. The theory posits that individuals aremotivated to pursue activities that will satisfy basic psychological needs defined as ‘‘innate psychological nutriments that are essential for ongoing psychological growth, integrity, and well-being’’ (Deci & Ryan, 2000, p. 229). Past research specifies three such needs: autonomy, a sense of volition or willingness when doing a task (Deci & Ryan, 2000); competence, a need for challenge and feelings of effectance (Deci, 1975); and relatedness, a need to feel connected with others (Ryan & Deci, 2001). Several outcomes can occur when these intrinsic motivations are met, including increased interest in an activity, inherent satisfaction with an activity, and enjoyment of an activity (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Most important to our study is the experience of enjoyment, as SDT is particularly useful in explaining enjoyment associated with recreational activities for which intrinsic rewards tend to be the primary motivating factor, such as sports and play (Frederick & Ryan, 1995). Entertainment media, such as video game play (Ryan et al., 2006), fall within this realm of activities that are intrinsically rewarding regardless of whether extrinsic rewards are present or the need for extrinsic reward is driving behavior.
  • A proposedmodel of enjoyment as need satisfactionOur study builds on the work of Ryan et al. (2006) to offer evidence of a model of enjoyment stemming from the satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs using the convergent and discriminant validity using criteria established by Campbell and Fiske (1959). It attempts to validate enjoyment defined in part as the satisfaction of the three needs established by SDT as essential to psychological well-being. The proposed model of enjoyment is tested in an experimental setting that manipulates two characteristics of game play—game controls and social play context—demonstrated in prior research to vary the ability of a game experience to satisfy the stated needs. Based on the logic provided by Ryan et al., the model begins with paths from game characteristics to need satisfaction that include (a) predicted positive paths from game controls to both competence and autonomy, (b) a predicted positive path from social play context to relatedness, (c) a predicted zero path from game controls to relatedness, and (d) a predicted zero path from social play context to both competence and autonomy. The model concludes with (e) predicted positive paths from the satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs to enjoyment (Figure 1).
  • Title: To Play, or to Be?" The Psychology of Video Games

    1. 1. “TO PLAY, OR TO BE?”:THE PSYCHOLOGY OF VIDEO GAMESNicholas David Bowman, Ph.D.
    2. 2. GAMES: MORE THAN GAMES?• Unquestioned popularity – $74B industry; rakes in $17B on a “down” year – Dominate sales of both packaged & online media – Played across demographics (age, gender, etc.) – Jones (2004) suggests that a childhood without games is “detrimental to development”
    3. 3. GAMES: MORE THAN GAMES?• Questioned phenomenology – Brunt of research rooted squarely in S R ( O) – Valuable, but misses the point of the “phenomenology of the game experience” (Grodal, 2000) – Translated: We study effects, but do we really study gaming?
    4. 4. STUDYING VIDEO, OR STUDYINGGAMES?• Moving parallel to S R ( O) – What do gamers bring to the experience? – What do we desire from the experience? – How do we interact with the experience? – What (else) can we experience from games?
    5. 5. Joeckel, S., Bowman, N. D., & Dogruel, L. (in press).Gut or game: The influence ofmoral intuitions on decisions in virtual environments. Manuscript forthcoming inMedia Psychology, 15(4).MORALITY AND GAMING
    6. 6. PREMISE• Many popular video games feature (encourage) anti-social acts• Player See  Player Do• ASSUMPTION: Player accepts premise, regardless of their own (moral) code
    7. 7. STUDY QUESTIONS• [in an non-biased environment] – How do moral intuitions drive in-game decisions? – How does this process drive enjoyment?
    8. 8. RESULTS A) Sig. ∆ High vs. B) Non-random C) Random Low (highest salience) (lowest salience) German Yes (.002) Yes (21%) Yes (47%) AdolescentsDigital Natives US Adolescents No (.118) No (54%) Yes (41%) German Elderly Yes (<.001) Yes (24%) No (77%)DigitalImmigrants US Elderly Yes (<.001) Yes (12%) Yes* (39%)
    9. 9. WHAT NEXT?• What does it mean for digital media? – “game” reaction then “gut” is primed – real world moral orientations drive decisions in the virtual world – How might continued “game” reactions sculpt our “gut”?
    10. 10. Tamborini, R., Bowman, N. D., Eden, A., Grizzard, M., & Organ, A. (2010). Definingmedia enjoyment as the satisfaction of intrinsic needs. Journal ofCommunication, 60(4), 758-777.GAMING AS NEED SATISFACTION
    11. 11. PREMISE• Games are played for fun, but what is the functional role of fun?• Positive psychology suggests that leisure is part of our intrinsic motivation and reward system• Psychological well-being
    12. 12. STUDY QUESTIONS
    13. 13. RESULTS
    14. 14. WHAT NEXT?• 51% of variance explained, leaving 49% of variance unaccounted for• Eudianomia and appreciation (Oliver) – Early data suggests insight to be an orthogonal predictor
    15. 15. Bowman, N. D., Schultheiss, D., Schumann, C. (2012)."I’m Attached, And I’m AGood Guy/Gal!": How Character Attachment Influences Pro- and Anti-SocialMotivations To Play MMORPGs. CyberPsychology, Behavior, and SocialNetworking, 15(3), 169-174.ATTACHMENT TO OURSELVES;OUR CHARACTERS
    16. 16. PREMISE• Media entertainment is rife with evidence of parasocial interactions• But in video games, is My people, my character. this parasocial or reified?
    17. 17. STUDY QUESTIONS• Character attachment is the “psychological melding of player and character”• Do dimensions of CA predict: – Pro-social behavior? – Anti-social behavior?
    18. 18. RESULTS• Pro-social motivations – Sense of control• Anti-social motivations – Suspension of disbelief – Sense of responsibility
    19. 19. WHAT NEXT?• Differential types and levels of attachment seem to be driving how we behave virtually• As the lines between the virtual and actual blur, what does this do to the fourth wall?
    20. 20. Limperos, A., Downs, E., Ivory, J, & Bowman, N. D. (in press). Leveling Up: AReview of Current and Emerging Areas of Interest in Video Games and FutureResearch Directions. Manuscript forthcoming in Communication Yearbook.ANTI-SOCIAL CONTENT  PRO-SOCIAL EFFECT?
    21. 21. PREMISE• The focus on media effects tends to stilt our opinions of gaming as bad…• …yet this bad content can be decidedly good for us!
    22. 22. APPRECIATION• Video games are fun, but can they be meaningful?
    23. 23. DISGUST AND DISINTEREST• “Profane game is profane” …• …and Bogost (2012) argues that this is exactly the point!
    24. 24. “Research = Mesearch”CONCLUSION
    25. 25. FINDINGS, AND PARALLELS• We bring ourselves to the game – (what do we bring back?)• We game to satisfy our needs – (do games create new needs?)• We place ourselves in the game – (can we separate the virtual and the actual?)• We learn good from bad – (does bad ever become bad?)
    26. 26. FOR MORE INFORMATIONPLEASE CONTACT:Nicholas David Bowman, Ph.D.Nicholas.Bowman@mail.wvu.eduonmediatheory.blogspot.com@bowmanspartan

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