It’s Not The Video Game It’s The Player That’s The Problem
Those video game players with more autonomy, competence and relatedness, thus who feel free to be themselves, and usually feel capable and have closeness and intimacy with others, often play video games because they like to. Those low on these traits often become obsessive game players, they have to play a video game. Moreover the first group enjoy their game play and feel energetic afterwards, while those in the latter group often feel more tension after game play and they usually play more hours.
In the end you have those video game players that want to play and those that have to play. The self-determination theory says that those with high self determination have a harmonious passion for video game play while those low on this dimension have a more obsessive passion for video game play. These groups of low or high level on this dimension also differ in outcome of game play. Those with obsessive passion usually play longer, have higher feelings of tension after the game and they have less game enjoyment.
Why is this important?
Many in popular culture assume that unhealthy relationships with games are rooted primarily in the experiences games provide. An important takeaway from this research is that these intuitions may be inaccurate, or at least incomplete.
The current findings suggest that the ways in which players approach games, either as a volitional, enhancing pursuit or as a compulsive, deleterious one, can be considered a consequence of the psychological need supports players experience in their day to day lives.
Players whose lives are more need satisfying are more likely to pursue games with a harmonious passion, accompanied by experiences of choice, energy, and enjoyment. Need thwarting, on the other hand, presents a risk factor for a disordered pattern characterized by long hours of compulsive, tense, and unenjoyable play.
Another important suggestion from this research is that with problematic game play the improvement of competence, autonomy and relatedness might help protect against obsessive game play. Teachers, parents and therapists can benefit from these results in their approach to obsessive game play.
How was this study done?
Mostly male video game players were recruited (n=1324) from members of a popular online community, ranging in age from 18-43 years. They had to be playing video games for at least a month. They participated in a survey and those completing the questionnaire received 100 dollar.
This shows the limitations of this study. First the generalizabilty is limited, only young adult males. The survey was done only once.
Przybylski, A., Weinstein, N., Ryan, R., & Rigby, C. (2009). Having to versus Wanting to Play: Background and Consequences of Harmonious versus Obsessive Engagement in Video Games CyberPsychology & Behavior DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0083
October 1, 2009 @ 8:17 pm
Here’s my opinion:
Any human activity which requires an input of attention and intellectual effort, and which leads to satisfying feedback, is likely to become habitual (not necessarily in a bad way), and is likely to strengthen cognitive function in the specific domain of the activity.
So it is no surprise to me to learn that video game players show strengthening cognitive function, with respect to certain types of reflexes, attention to images, etc.
My critique of video game behavior, however, is not about whether it benefits cognitive function–since I think any human activity engaged in with energy and attention may benefit cognitive function. My critique is more about video gaming as a cultural phenomenon, and about whether the skills or intellectual changes gained from the gaming experience lead to a richer life for the individual, for that individual’s social life, for the family, for the community, and for society.
For my own children, I would much rather encourage them to develop habits around practicing music, composing art or writing, or discussing ideas, rather than develop video game skills, or developing an expectation that the best possible “dopaminergic reward” comes from a computer console rather than a paintbrush or a piano key. Physical, sports, or athletic skills are important for general health too, although these are much less a priority in my own personal or family culture. If my child was to invest an hour or more at a time, frequently, in a powerfully stimulating, challenging activity with significant dopaminergic reward involved, my own philosophy would be to encourage a choice of activity that would contribute to the child’s personal culture in a permanently meaningful way, and also eventually be gifts to the community or to society.
I’m not sure that video game skills fit those requirements from my point of view, for myself, or for my family–unless they can develop video games which might focus specifically on teaching creative arts, science, language or interpersonal skills, music, etc. Mind you, it may be true that a healthy gaming culture could bring individuals together across the world, and perhaps engage them in healthier activities rather than what they might otherwise be doing with their energies.
October 1, 2009 @ 10:25 pm
Thank you for sharing your opinion on this subject. My opinion is that video games is to easily pictured as young adults hiding in dark seclusive areas monotonous busy with the same game all the time. Video games will in the future help elderly maintain certain cognitive and motor skills, these games may even be used in rehabilitation. Simply buying a train ticket these days even in The Netherlands is not very simple with the new devices and touch screens. Moreover, a lot of games and even software can be used creatively. It’s just one other cultural part of living in the future next to exercise, music and all the others. Not everyone can preform music or participate in sports as well as the fact that not everyone enjoys video games.
Thanks again for this discussion, take care Dr Shock
Science Report » Blog Archive » It’s Not The Video Game It’s The Player That’s The Problem
October 1, 2009 @ 11:18 pm
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October 5, 2009 @ 6:57 am
Thanks for this great article!! I’ve read more articles/researches concluding videogames have more benefits than disadvantages, helping develop mental, social, motion skills in a faster and accurate way. I think everyone is responsible for his/her choices and if some people decide to make videogames their Addiction, its their fault. The way we play videogames is just a reflection of the way we are.
November 8, 2009 @ 3:04 pm
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November 16, 2009 @ 10:18 am
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