Social features of video games

The relationship between the social features of video games, video game engagement and happiness

This is a preliminary study into the relationship between the social features of video games, video game engagement and happiness.

Researcher: Derek Laffan BSc(Hons)Applied Psychology
Supervisors: Dr. John Greaney and Hannah Barton MSc.

Video games have extraordinary capabilities of drawing people in, gluing people to the game and making people want to keep playing. These are considered to be features of video game engagement.

It has been argued that the structural characteristics of video games i.e. sounds, graphics, narrative, social and other physical features, play a highly engaging role, to entice the gamer to play video games in an addiction-like manner (Hull, Williams & Griffiths, 2013). Hull et al. (2013) argued that the social features of video games i.e. multiplayer, instant messaging etc. were indicative of video game addiction because social features are reinforcing and rewarding.

However, happiness may be a reward from engaging with the social features of video games and thus, result in habitual game play. This can be argued as a preliminary rationale to investigate how habitual play of social video games can benefit the context of positive psychological interventions.

The aims of the present research are two fold:

1: to predict happiness levels and high levels of video game engagement from engaging in video games with extensive social features.

2: to investigate social video games as positive psychological interventions with an emphasis on engagement and happiness affect.

An IADT scholarship was awarded to Derek Laffan to carry out this research. A poster demonstrating the progress of this research has been accepted to present at the 7th European Conference of Positive Psychology in Amsterdam in July 2014. This research is ongoing and is expected to finish in April 2015.