Video games may provide meaningful experiences

videogameWASHINGTON: Video games have the potential to be as meaningful to players as other, more esteemed forms of entertainment such as books, plays or even music, scientists have found.
Researchers said that players in the study indicated that they not only enjoyed playing games, but also frequently appreciated them at a deeper, more meaningful level.

“Video games are often stereotyped as something that is just fun and entertaining, but not something that is deeply appreciated,” said Mary Beth Oliver, Distinguished Professor in Media Studies and co-director of Media Effects Research Laboratory at The Pennsylvania State University.
“Video games do not seem to have the same critical acclaim as, for example, books and plays or even music,” she said.

Participants in the study suggested that story details in the game were critical to feelings of appreciation. They also indicated that more meaningful games were associated with heightened feelings of insight or enrichment.

“That insight could be anything from an emotion or virtue – like courage – to an insight on human spirituality,” said Oliver.
The researchers, who publishedthe findings in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, said video games may hold promise of providing players with enriching or gratifying experiences.

“It’s certainly true that there are some games that are silly or shallow, but that’s the case for almost all forms of entertainment,” said Oliver.

“Our research suggests that contrary to stereotypes, games have the potential to be as meaningful to players as other, more esteemed forms of entertainment such as literature or cinema,” she said.
Games may also provide players the opportunity to experience valuable situations and emotions that other forms of entertainment may not do as frequently, Oliver added.

“Whereas viewers and readers typically watch characters make decisions in movies and books, many video games allow the player to actually make those choices, resulting in feelings such as guilt or pride,” she added.

In the study, 512 video game players were assigned to one of two random groups and asked to recall games that were particularly fun or particularly meaningful. They then rated their perceptions about the game.

While participants reported that they found both types were fun to play, they said they had more appreciation for the more meaningful games they played.

Creating games with more interactive and more meaningful story lines is a challenge for developers, but could be worth the investment, the researchers said. -PTI

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