A mediated relationship between escapism and well-being among MMO players (Kaczmarek & Darzkowski, 2014)

Lukasz Kaczmarek (Adam Mickiewicz University) and Drążkowski (Adam Mickiewicz University) has published a survey study on the mediated relationship between escapism and well-being in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.


Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) escapists are individuals who indulge in the MMORPG environment to avoid real world problems. Though a relationship between escapism and deteriorated well-being has been established, little is known about particular pathways that mediate this relationship. In the current study, we examined this topic by testing an integrative model of MMORPG escapism, which includes game realism beliefs, gaming time, offline social support, and online social support for offline problems. MMORPG players (N=1,056) completed measures of escapist motivation, game realism beliefs, social support, well-being, and reported gaming time. The tested structural equation model had a good fit to the data. We found that individuals with escapist motivation endorsed stronger game realism beliefs and spent more time playing MMORPGs, which, in turn, increased online support but decreased offline social support. Well-being was favorably affected by both online and offline social support, although offline social support had a stronger effect. The higher availability of online social support for offline problems did not compensate for the lower availability of offline support among MMORPG escapists. Understanding the psychological factors related to depletion of social resources in MMORPG players can help optimize MMORPGs as leisure activities.

I think I’m done with my candidacy exam. Continue reading

Friendship in online gaming among emotionally sensitive gamers (Kowert et al., 2014)

Rachel Kowert (University of Münster), Emese Domahidi (University of Münster) and Thorsten Quandt (University of Münster) have published a study regarding the relationship between online videogame involvement and gaming-related friendship among emotionally sensitive individuals in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.


Some researchers believe that online gaming spaces can be socially accommodating environments for socially inhibited individuals, such as the socially inept, socially anxious, or shy. Whilst previous research has examined, and found, significant links between these populations and online video game play, it remains unknown to what extent these spaces are contributing to tangible social benefits for the socially inhibited. The current study addresses this question by evaluating the link between gaming-related friendships and shyness, as quantified by emotional sensitivity. Drawing from a representative sample of German game players, the results indicate that emotionally sensitive players are using online gaming spaces differently from their less emotionally sensitive counterparts and reporting tangible differences in their in-game friendship networks. This suggests that online games hold the potential to be socially advantageous for shy individuals by allowing them to overcome their traditional social difficulties and generate new friendships as well as strengthen old ones.

Happy Halloween! Continue reading

The game world is violent, I must be careful who to trust (Rothmund et al., 2014)

The study was presented during ICA 2014 annual meeting by the fourth author, Christoph Klimmt (Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media).

Tobias Rothmund (University of Koblenz-Landau), Mario Gollwitzer (Philipps University Marburg), Jens Bender (University of Koblenz-Landau) and Christoph Klimmt published this study in Media Psychology. The study is also continuation of their previous study published in 2011 of which I have previously blogged on.


Two studies investigate the psychological processes underlying short- and long-term effects of video game violence on interpersonal trust. Study 1 demonstrates that interacting with physically aggressive virtual agents decreases players’ trust in subsequent interactions. This effect was stronger for players who were dispositionally sensitive to victimization. In Study 2, long-term effects of adolescents’ frequent exposure to video game violence on interpersonal trust and victim sensitivity were investigated. Cross-lagged path analyses show that the reported frequency of playing violent video games reduced interpersonal trust over a period of 12 months, particularly among victim-sensitive players. These findings are in line with the sensitivity to mean intentions (SeMI) model, and they suggest that interpersonal mistrust is a relevant long-term outcome of frequent exposure to video game violence.

With recent events happening on the internet, I am just wondering if I should stop until it calms down. Continue reading

Differences in cognitive performance with problematic videogame use (Collins & Freeman, 2014)

Emily Collins (University College London) and Jonathan Freeman (University of London) have published an article in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking regarding differences in cognitive performance amongst gamers with or without problematic videogame use.


Action video game players have been found to outperform nonplayers on a variety of cognitive tasks. However, several failures to replicate these video game player advantages have indicated that this relationship may not be straightforward. Moreover, despite the discovery that problematic video game players do not appear to demonstrate the same superior performance as nonproblematic video game players in relation to multiple object tracking paradigms, this has not been investigated for other tasks. Consequently, this study compared gamers and nongamers in task switching ability, visual short-term memory, mental rotation, enumeration, and flanker interference, as well as investigated the influence of self-reported problematic video game use. A total of 66 participants completed the experiment, 26 of whom played action video games, including 20 problematic players. The results revealed no significant effect of playing action video games, nor any influence of problematic video game play. This indicates that the previously reported cognitive advantages in video game players may be restricted to specific task features or samples. Furthermore, problematic video game play may not have a detrimental effect on cognitive performance, although this is difficult to ascertain considering the lack of video game player advantage. More research is therefore sorely needed.

Just finished one of my candidacy exam questions, two more to go. Continue reading

One more time!: The role of self-determination and gamer identity in persistence (Neys et al., 2014)

Here is a scene from the anime series Haikyū!!

Teams of hardcore volleyball players aim to be qualified in the national championship. Only one team is qualified and must struggle through other teams whose strengths frustrate their success. Nevertheless, they succeed through persistence. One more time, one point at a time. A less dedicated team would have given up far sooner and frustrated more easily.

Joyce Neys (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Jeroen Jansz (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Ed Tan (University of Amsterdam) explored persistence among videogame players and how self-determination and one’s identification as a gamer may contribute to persisting in videogame sessions.


The question of why players of video games persist gaming in the face of what seems to be insufficient reward has not yet been properly answered. This paper approaches the issue by combining two general psychological theories: Self-determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) and Social Identity Theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). A large scale survey (N = 7252) enabled a comparison of three groups which differed in terms of their Gamer Identity Strength (GIS), namely the degree to which players define gaming as part of their social identity. GIS is highest in Hardcore gamers and lower for Heavy and Casual gamers. GIS was positively, and uniformly, related with needs for Competence, Autonomy and Relatedness. Meanwhile, regulation was greater and more internal in the higher GIS groups. Finally, persistence was found to increase with GIS. The structure of needs and regulation modes underlying persistence was comparatively analyzed for the three groups; similarities between GIS groups were more frequent than differences. Most importantly, results indicated that Casual and Heavy gamers were motivated to continue to play as a result of both the feelings of enjoyment and a sense of connectedness. Hardcore gamers were more intrinsically motivated through enjoyment enhancing their levels of persistence accordingly.

As a video games researcher, it is quite difficult to deal with video game players, but persistent pays off. Continue reading

Engaging children’s learning of reading through challenge and rewards (Ronimus et al., 2014)

The education field has a longstanding interest in videogames and I believe its educational potential is one of its earliest recognized benefits. James Paul Gee (Arizona State University) is one of the most notable academic advocates. Education scholars publish studies as many as psychological researchers do. I have not covered much because it’s outside of my field. Therefore, I randomly picked an education-related study peeking what they are doing.

This is a study published in Computers & Education from Miia Ronimus, Janne Kujala, Asko Tolvanen, and Heikki Lyytinen (University of Jyväskylä) from their education videogame, GraphoGame.


This study investigated the effects of two game features (the level of challenge and the reward system) on first and second graders’ engagement during digital game-based learning of reading. We were particularly interested in determining how well these features managed to maintain children’s engagement over the 8-week training period. The children (N = 138) used GraphoGame, a web-based game training letter–sound connections, at home under the supervision of parents. Data regarding the children’s gaming and engagement were stored on the GraphoGame online server. A 2 × 2 factorial design was used to investigate the effects of the level of challenge (high challenge vs. high success) and the presence of the reward system (present vs. absent). Children’s engagement was measured by session frequency and duration and through an in-game self-report survey that was presented at the end of the each session. According to the results, the children enjoyed GraphoGame but used it less frequently than expected. The reward system seemed to encourage the children to play longer sessions at the beginning of the training period, but this effect vanished after a few sessions. The level of challenge had no significant effect on children’s engagement. The results suggest a need to investigate further the effectiveness of various game features in maintaining learner’s engagement until the goals set for learning are achieved.

I’m already feeling exhausted and we’ve just started the semester. Continue reading

I don’t enjoy playing in a no-win scenario: Enjoyment and self-determination in winning videogames

Following the blog post on videogame cheating and after watching a scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, James T. Kirk explained how he beat a no-win scenario:

He cheated, but we can interpret his meaning in that he changed the simulation to an easier difficulty level allowing him to win. However, would players enjoy their wins from a easy game? Two recent studies have examined the enjoyment of winning in videogames. Michael Schmierbach, Mun-Young Chung, Mu Wu and Keunyeoung Kim (Pennsylvania State University) titled their article in reference to Kirk: “No One Likes to Lose” in the Journal of Media Psychology.


Although scholars of video game enjoyment propose that games are meant to present a reasonable and appropriate challenge to players, not enough research has tested the effects of difficulty on enjoyment or the psychological mechanisms driving this relationship. In an experimental study involving college students ( N = 121) playing a casual online tower defense game, we tested the relationship between difficulty and enjoyment and the possible mediating roles played by competency, as specified by self-determination theory, and challenge-skill balance, as specified by flow theory. Path analysis suggested that feelings of competency contribute to enjoyment by helping players obtain a balance between challenge and skill, and that competency is enhanced when players are assigned an easier game mode. This paper then addresses implications for theory, game design, and laboratory studies.

Diana Rieger (University of Cologne), Tim Wulf (University of Cologne), Julia Kneer (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Lena Frischlich (University of Cologne) and Gary Bente (University of Cologne) titled their article a majority sentiment: “The winner takes it all”.


Recent research found that playing video games is able to serve mood management purposes as well as contribute to gratifications such as need satisfaction. Both aspects can foster the enjoyment as entertainment experience. The current study explores the question of how in-game success as a prerequisite for satisfying the need for competence and autonomy positively influences mood repair and game enjoyment. In a laboratory setting, participants were frustrated via a highly stressing math task and then played a video game (Mario Kart). Results show that in-game success drives mood repair as reflected in the experience of anger, happiness and activation. Moreover, fulfilling the intrinsic needs for competence and autonomy mediated the effects of in-game success and predicted enjoyment of the video game. Results are discussed in context of recent conceptualizations of media entertainment and the hierarchical order of emotional gratifications.

I’ve wondered for some time about doing a similar study using the Impossible Game. Continue reading