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Why makes video games addictive?

Researchers at the University of Rochester have

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 13:34 IST

Researchers at the University of Rochester have found that people find resisting enjoyable video games hard because the fun of playing them is actually rooted in fulfilling their basic psychological needs.

Working in collaboration with Immersyve Inc., a virtual environment think tank, they asked 1,000 gamers what motivates them to keep playing, and discovered that people enjoy video games because they find them intrinsically satisfying.

"We think there's a deeper theory than the fun of playing," says lead investigator Richard M. Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University.

During the research, the gamers reported that they felt the best when a game produced positive experiences and challenges connected to the realities of life.

The research also found that games could provide opportunities for achievement, freedom, and even a connection to other players.

"It's our contention that the psychological 'pull' of games is largely due to their capacity to engender feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness," says Ryan.

He believes that some video games not only motivate further play but "also can be experienced as enhancing psychological wellness, at least short-term."

Four groups of people were asked to play different games, including one group tackling "massively multiplayer online" (MMO) games, the fastest growing segment of the computer gaming industry.

They found that for those playing MMOs, the need for relatedness emerged "as an important satisfaction that promotes a sense of presence, game enjoyment, and an intention for future play."

Ryan points out that "not all video games are created equal" in their ability to satisfy basic psychological needs, "but those that do may be the best at keeping players coming back."

First Published: Dec 28, 2006 13:34 IST