Appeal of online First Person Shooters (Jansz & Tanis, 2007)

Here’s something to counter argue anti-video games advocates claims of gamers being loners in regards to FPS games on the online world. Anyways, to the authors’ knowledge FPS games are not researched in depth, but they are peripherally. Even the claims of increase in hand-eye coordination is based on the definition of “those that have fast motion, require vigilant monitoring of the visual periphery, and often require the simultaneous tracking of multiple targets.” (Green & Bavelier, 2006) which includes FPS, shoot’em ups, racing, beat’em ups, etc.

Jansz and Tanis conducted an exploratory survey on online FPS players like Counter-Strike, so a survey based on unproven knowledge, i.e. stereotypes heard from media, general knowledge, etc. and gratification theory.  The survey results are that online FPS gamers, in particular players in clans, are motivated by competition and challenge. In addition, players are also in it for the social interaction. i.e. not loners.


  • Participants: 751 Dutch-speaking participants who completed the survey online on two unidentified popular websites for online FPS.
  • Questionnaires: Demographics (age average = 18, gender mostly male, game behaviour and clan membership: 80% are clan members)
  • A likert scale questionnaire based on the gratification theory of which they diluted the answers into 6 categories of motives: competition, interest, enjoyment, fantasy, social interaction, excitement and challenge.

The demographic results are the usual thing: young male who played about 2.6 hours per day. In addition, FPS gamers play an average of 16 hours per compared to RPG gamers who play between 23-25 hours per week and that RPG gamers are older (average 28 years, see Nick Yee).

Looking into the correlational relationship between the 6 categories and demographics revealed some statistically significant relationships. Although they’re significant, the correlations seem awfully small.

Details: correlations between age and interest (r = -0.08), fantasy (r = -0.09). The same for education on interest (r = -0.11) and fantasy (r = -0.12). However, being a clan member has some positive correlations to competition (r = 0.20) and challenge (r = 0.08).
So the older you are the less likely you are to play for fantasy or have interest in online FPS. But being a clan member means your motives are more likely to be competition and challenge, much like sports I guess.

The types of clan membership showed a correlational relationship among the 6 categories. The types of clan membership are categorized as follows: non-clan, amateur (between friends or for fun) and semi-professionals (for serious fun or for serious tournaments and money).

Details: using f-test and LSD post-hoc (go figure)

  • Competition: pros are more competitive than the rest, no other differences found.
  • Interest: no differences between groups
  • Enjoyment: Amateurs and pros enjoy the game more than the non-clans.
  • Fantasy: no differences between groups
  • Social interaction: Amateurs and pros have higher scores than non-clans, no diff between amateurs and pros.
  • Excitement: Amateurs do it for the excitement more than the pros or non-clans. No other differences.
  • Challenge: Pros do it for the challenge, no other diff found between amateurs and non-clans.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that gamers play to achieve success and glory amongst peers, and they play the game in a highly social environment, something that dispels the view that gamers are loners. Fantasy is not a differing factor, so pros and non-clan gamers are not playing to lose themselves in fantasy or to just kill people. Well I’m at a loss to explain the differences between enjoyment and excitement. The authors did not sufficiently define and differentiate between enjoyment and excitement, so help me.

One question that is worth asking is: Are serious FPS gamers are motivated much like sports players? Thinking about it makes sense since challenge, competition, enjoyment and social interaction are common factors between sports and competitive gaming. Perhaps video games provide good oppurtunities for good sportsmanship to those who don’t have physical requirements of professional sports, even semi or amateur.

Another question is whether there are social and cultural differences between online FPS and RPG. For example, the construct of death are different. In FPS, it’s a matter of losing a match and no big deal meanwhile a death in RPG can be more serious, i.e. losing your xp or your equipment. Such differences can influence social perceptions and interactions between players.

Jansz, J. & Tanis, M. (2007). Appeal of playing online first person shooter games. Cyberpsychology and Behavior, 10, 1, 133-136.


2 thoughts on “Appeal of online First Person Shooters (Jansz & Tanis, 2007)

  1. Pingback: Appeal of Online FPS games « Elliot Doyle FMP

  2. Pingback: Audience research « Elliot Doyle FMP

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