5 min read

How Video Games exploit our Temperaments and Character

We discuss how a person's temperament and character form the basis for video game design; how game developer keep us hooked.
How Video Games exploit our Temperaments and Character

Hi everyone out there,

Last week, we discussed how skill, feeling immersed, challenge level, and game relationships are used to design video games to increase game loyalty. Today, we continue by discussing how a person's temperament and character form the basis for video game design. We will learn why video games are made the way they are.

💡 Highlights
• In the business of game development, developer use human characteristics to increase game loyalty (get or keep us playing their games).
• Two major aspects are the human character and temperament.
• 1.861 gamers were surveyed about their temperament and character.
• Aspects of temperament: novelty seeking, persistence, and reward dependence contribute to game loyalty.
• Cooperativeness, and self-transcendence (character dimensions) were found to increase game loyalty.
• Temperament and character are used by game developers (e.g., rewards, ladder rankings, friend's list, and realistic environment) to keep us hooked to their games.

👨‍💻 The Basis for Video Game Design

In this episode, we continue looking at some of the practices game developers use to increase our game loyalty (start or keep us playing their game). Some aspects—motivations for playing video games, as well as skill, immersion, and others—we covered in earlier episodes. Today, we dive deeper into how a person's temperament and character form the basis for video game design.

👥 Who participated?

In total, 1.861 gamers participated in the online survey. 63.5% of them named League of Legends to be their #1 game, followed by 8.3% saying World of WarCraft is their go-to game.

🎭 Temperament & Character - What plays a Role?

The image below highlights the findings of the study and covers this and last week's episode. As you can see, I highlighted the aspects covered last week and this week. Furthermore, I only marked significant results that ultimately impact game loyalty.

Temperament: Temperament is what you're born with (normally genetic) and fosters your biological drives (behavior, etc.), stabilizing your biological tendencies. In the model used by the study, it has four dimensions: persistence, novelty seeking, harm avoidance, and reward dependence.

Two of these dimensions we covered last week, "persistence" and "novelty seeking." Both dimensions influence game loyalty indirectly through multiple pathways (skill, challenge, and flow).

To recap, gamers with high levels of persistence work through difficulties until the problem they face is solved. It means continuing an ongoing behavior despite frustration and tiredness. For instance, playing games for hours and hours, facing hard challenges, and farming items shows persistence. On the other hand, novelty seeking is the basic tendency to actively react to anything novel a person encounters.

Of the other two dimensions, only "reward dependence" had a significant impact on game loyalty. However, this impact is indirect through challenge (the difficulty level you experience while playing the game). "... reward dependence refers to the extent to which an individual tends to actively respond to positive feedback [2]."

"Thus, gamers with high levels of reward dependence are likely to strive to overcome gaming challenges, and thus obtain positive feedback, creating a positive relation between reward dependence and challenge [1]."

Character has three dimensions: cooperativeness, self-directedness, and self-transcendence. Here, character describes the individual's goals and concepts that occur during a process of social learning; it's any goal you set or learn how things work in the process of learning from people around you (or the internet).

Cooperativeness is one of the two character dimensions that influence game loyalty, but also indirectly through interdependence (a measure of relationship). This is not surprising, as many gamers enjoy a game in part because of the people they get to interact with while playing. Just think about your own friends list, guild, raid group, etc.

"Social interaction can increase opportunities to [meet and stay connected] with other gamers [1]."

The second dimension of character having an impact on game loyalty is self-transcendence. Self-transcendence refers to an individual regarding oneself as part of an environment or world. With regards to gaming, it pertains to the level you consider yourself as part of the game-world. The higher you score, the more you feel as one with it and enjoy being in it.

As with the other character and temperament dimensions before, self-transcendence is connected to game loyalty indirectly. In this case, it is through telepresence (you feeling immersed in the game).

👨‍💻 How Games are designed using our Temperaments and Character

How do game designers use people's temperament to design games so we keep playing? In last week's episode, we covered novelty seeking and persistence. The third component, reward dependence, can be tapped by game developers through displaying scores (e.g., leaderboards or ladder ranks), or associating in-game rewards (e.g., gold, items, achievements) with the completion of in-game content such as killing bosses, farming, or completing quests. Another way to keep players engaged is by providing a summary of the player's ranking over a specific period of time. For instance, showing the leaderboard or season rankings.

"Such feedback can encourage gamers with high levels of reward dependence to experience flow and continue playing [1]."

Cooperativeness, as a component of character, can be exploited by game designers through facilitating social interactions among gamers. This can be done by encouraging players to constantly log into forums or in-game. A way to do that may be the online status of people on your friends list. If you see your buddy online, chances are you’ll log in to talk or play with them as well. This need for updated information also makes us check the status on a constant basis. Checking and active waiting often happens in-game.

Telepresence—also a component of character. Ever wondered why mainstream games become more vivid and realistic? That's in part because highly realistic and vivid images increase the level of self-transcendence. This, in turn, leads to a heightened sense of reality when playing. Essentially, you get "lost" in the online world.

"Encountering such a vivid game environment, [players] should become fully immersed in the game world, enhancing their loyalty to the game [1]."

Thanks for the read. Catch ya'll next Sunday.

Christian 🙃

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[1] Huang et al., 2017
[2] De Fruyt et al., 2000

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