On the contrary, we have found video games help satisfy fundamental psychological needs, and therefore have enormous value for all ages.
Yet, to those who aren’t already avid players, video games might be viewed as juvenile – a waste of time lacking redemptive qualities. In the era of the quantified self, where we’re pushed to use technology to track and “optimise” ourselves endlessly, even those who do enjoy games may feel guilty for not being more “productive”.
What people need Your sense of competence might have also taken a hit, by missing out on the daily “wins” that can come through leisure pursuits or problem-solving at work. You also likely can’t see your colleagues, neighbours, friends, and family as often, which can undermine feelings of relatedness.
The satisfaction of these basic psychological needs leads to greater well-being and motivation. If being stuck at home is reducing your happiness and well-being, this could be due to reduced satisfaction of one or more of these needs. For instance, your sense of autonomy may be undermined when forced to self-isolate, as you can’t partake in many of your usual activities. Feeling powerless is also common during pandemics.
autonomy is about feeling you have choices, can act in accordance with your values, and pursue meaningful goals
competence is about feeling effective and capable of overcoming problems
relatedness is about feeling connected to others. According to Self-Determination Theory, people have three psychological needs:
What games provide Fortunately, many of us have found other ways of satisfying these needs through technology, such as using webcams and microphones to have online interactions. It’s not the same as a face-to-face meeting, but it helps maintain connection and satisfies our desire for relatedness.
They offer a clearly defined “sense of progress and achievability”, as Jennifer Scheurle explains. This is especially valuable during lockdown when your days may feel monotonous. Research shows games help facilitate a sense of autonomy by giving players freedom of choice and, depending on the game, a meaningful narrative for completing tasks. Well-designed games also facilitate a feeling of competence by presenting challenges that aren’t too hard or too easy and feel rewarding to overcome. Video games can also satisfy these needs and may be a great way to spend some time during this crisis.
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