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Computers in Human Behavior

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This paper argues that most video game enjoyment can be understood in terms of the type of feedback used, the rules set out by the game and the social elements of the game - concepts that have been identified as critical to video games. Self-determination theory (SDT) is used as a lens for understanding the mechanism by which these traits might lead to enjoyment. Specifically, the argument is that feedback, rules, and social elements of games will fulfill the dimensions of SDT - competence autonomy, and relatedness. Then, the dimensions of SDT will predict enjoyment. Participants were presented with a game that emphasized feedback, rules, or social elements. Games that emphasized flexible rules led to feelings of competence while games that emphasized social elements led to feelings of relatedness. Competence and elatedness then led to feelings of enjoyment. In doing so, this study identifies key elements of video games while illuminating ways to understand video game enjoyment.


This is a post-print version of an article originally published in Computers in Human Behavior, 2015, Volume 49.

The version of record is available through: Elsevier .