We’ve all done it at some point in our gaming career, especially when it boils down to choice; are you a paragon, or a renegade and the reasons we embark on our particular path. RPG’s are famous for it and even games like inFAMOUS and Catherine promote moral choice. With that in mind, a study for the academic journal Psychological Science will look at why we as gamers choose the path we play.
Dr Andy Przybylski, a visiting researcher to the university of Essex sought to understand what draws us into different games. With this, he came up with the notion of the “Ideal Self” and that we as gamers like to try play games to try on characteristics we would like in our ideal self.
The research gave gamers the opportunity to forge a new identity from gender, status as a hero or villain. This freedom of choice made the players feel better and encouraged less negative thoughts, with this argument countering that video games are for wannabe psychopaths.
“A game can be more fun when you get the chance to act and be like your ideal self,” explained Dr. Przybylski.
“The attraction to playing videogames and what makes them fun is that it gives people the chance to think about a role they would ideally like to take and then get a chance to play that role.”
The study looked at both casual and more hardcore gamers to gain an even representation looking at the players emotions and motivation to continue playing noticing improvements for those with the “Ideal Self” overlap. This technique is also commonly used to maximize the impact of emotional events during games, and using the “Ideal Self”, we become intepollated to the characters we “live” beside.