Video gamers are 'searching for their ideal selves'
Published 08/08/2011 | 15:19
People are drawn to playing video games in a bid to find their ‘ideal selves’, according to new research.
Scientists at the University of Essex have found that millions of people around the world enjoy playing the latest video games, as many find it the best way to try out different characteristics they would like to have.
The study is part of ongoing scientific research by Dr Andy Przybylski, a visiting research fellow at Essex University, into why video games appeal to so many people, leading them to play for a combined global total of three billion hours a week.
"A game can be more fun when you get the chance to act and be like your ideal self," said Dr. Przybylski. "The attraction to playing video games and what makes them fun is that it gives people the chance to think about a role they would ideally like to take and then get a chance to play that role."
He added that video games produced the perfect platform for people to “try on different hats” and alter their personalities for a while.
The research, due to be published in the next issue of Psychological Science, found that the way video games allow people to take on a new identity, made players feel better about themselves.
Enjoyment levels were greatest when the characters people were playing in the games had some similarities to their real selves.
“I was heartened by the findings which showed that people were not running away from themselves but running towards their ideals. They are not escaping to nowhere they are escaping to somewhere,” added Dr Przybylski.
The scientists monitored hundreds of casual game players and thousands of dedicated gamers in a laboratory, who played a range of video games – from Call of Duty to World of Warcraft.