Investigation of the Association between Video Game Usage, Personality, Psychological Needs, and Wellbeing
Playing computer games has often been theorised to be linked to the wellbeing of users. However, the variables involved and the relationships and interactions between them have not been established. The purpose of the present study was to investigate, whether there are core aspects of game usage that are related to increased or decreased wellbeing, and the extent to which these depend on players’ real-life situations. The project comprised three studies and used an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. In the first study, the ways in which players use games were investigated. To identify the key aspects of game usage for distinguishing and describing how players use games, in-depth interviews were conducted with 23 players of different games. This data and two subsequent quantitative tests, the first with 314 participants and the second with 770 participants, were used to develop a game-usage questionnaire and a framework with eight factors. The relationship between game usage and wellbeing was investigated in a longitudinal study conducted over nine months with 531 participants. Personality – as proxy for internal characteristics – and basic psychological needs – as proxy for participants’ situations in life – were taken into account as potential moderators of that relationship. Results showed that the overall correlations between game usage and wellbeing are weak and subsumed by players’ needs and personality. However, there were interactions between game usage and needs: Some game usage factors seem to directly reflect real-life situations and wellbeing; others seem to be common responses to real-life situations with no impact on wellbeing; and others again appear to impact wellbeing depending on the real-life situation. Social game usage seems to be a key factor with relevance for wellbeing. The contribution of this thesis is twofold. It provides a general framework of game usage that can be used in the field of game studies to interpret and compare findings more meaningfully, and it was shown that it is important to consider a person’s game usage in context of their real-life situations. In addition, main game usage factors for future research on wellbeing and digital games are suggested.