Video Game Structural Characteristics: A New Psychological Taxonomy

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Abstract

Excessive video game playing behaviour may be influenced by a variety of factors including the structural characteristics of video games. Structural characteristics refer to those features inherent within the video game itself that may facilitate initiation, development and maintenance of video game playing over time. Numerous structural characteristics that influence gambling frequency and expenditure have been identified in the gambling literature, and some researchers have drawn comparisons between the rewarding elements in video gaming and those in slot machine gambling. However, there have been few rigorous attempts to classify and organise the psycho-structural elements of video games in a similar way to gambling. In order to aid current psychological understanding of problem video game playing and guide further research questions in this area, a new taxonomy of video game features is proposed, which includes: (a) social features, (b) manipulation and control features, (c) narrative and identity features, (d) reward and punishment features, and (e) presentation features. Each category is supported with relevant theory and research, where available, and the implications of these features for excessive video game playing are discussed.