Games, Cognition, and Emotion

University of Hamburg, 5-6 July 2013

Panel IV.1: Games and Effects

Leonard Reinecke, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Intrinsic Motivation and the Video Game Experience. On the Complex Interaction of the Use of Video Games and Psychological Well-Being

Current research has demonstrated the ability of video games to satisfy a set of intrinsic needs that are crucial for psychological well-being and vitality. Video games provide ample opportunities to satisfy our need for competence by mastering the numerous challenges within the game environment. Games make us feel self-determined and autonomous while we explore the game-world and control the progress of the narrative though our own actions and choices. Furthermore, video games provide us with opportunities for social interaction with other players, help us feel connected, and satisfy our need for relatedness. The satisfaction of the need for competence, autonomy, and relatedness is a strong predictor for selective exposure to games and a key driver of game enjoyment, characterizing intrinsic need satisfaction as a crucial motivation to engage in game play. Beyond providing a better understanding of the motivations to play and the appeal of games, this needs-based approach can broaden our perspective on video games by demonstrating their potential to foster well-being and vitality. However, in contrast to the negative cognitive and emotional effects of video game play, such as increased aggression or video game addiction, that have received broad attention in media psychology, systematic research on the positive effects of games on psychological well-being is still in its infancy. The presentation will provide an overview of existing research both on the role of on intrinsic need satisfaction for the appeal of video games as well as the effects video game play on psychological well-being. The presentation will conclude with a preliminary discussion of potential moderator and mediator processes that may foster or hinder the positive well-being potential of games and aim at initiating discussion on an agenda for future research on the complex interplay of video games and well-being.

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Leonard Reinecke is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. His research focuses on the uses and effects of entertaining media and online communication. His recent work addresses the role of intrinsic need satisfaction in media enjoyment and the effects of the use of entertaining media on recovery processes, vitality, and well-being.

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