Opinions and Culture

Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain?

Jayne Gackenbach Ph.D.

Video Games: Brain Gain or Drain? – Video Games Let You Be All You Can Be

Andrew Przybylski and I chatted this time about how ones sense of ideal self can be encouraged with the play of video games. Przybylski is with the Department of Psychology, University of Essex, United Kingdom. He and his coauthors recently published a study in Psychological Science, the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology, exploring these ideas. He points out in the abstract to his article that, “Video games constitute a popular form of entertainment that allows millions of people to adopt virtual identities. In our research, we explored the idea that the appeal of games is due in part to their ability to provide players with novel experiences that let them “try on” ideal aspects of their selves that might not find expression in everyday life. We found that video games were most intrinsically motivating and had the greatest influence on emotions when players’ experiences of themselves during play were congruent with players’ conceptions of their ideal selves. Additionally, we found that high levels of immersion in gaming environments, as well as large discrepancies between players’ actual-self and ideal-self characteristics, magnified the link between intrinsic motivation and the experience of ideal-self characteristics during play.” A more recent research interest of Przybylski regards the cult of Mac users.