The research literature suggests that the structural characteristics of video games may play a considerable role in the initiation, development and maintenance of problematic video game playing. The present study investigated the role of structural characteristics in video game playing behaviour within a sample of 421 video game players aged between 14 and 57 years. Players were surveyed via an online questionnaire containing measures of video game playing behaviour, player interaction with structural characteristics of video games, and problematic involvement in video games. The results showed that the reward and punishment features, such as earning points, finding rare game items, and fast loading times, were rated among the most enjoyable and important aspects of video game playing. There was some evidence that certain structural characteristics were stronger predictors of problematic involvement in video games than factors such as gender, age, and time spent playing. This research supports the notion that some structural characteristics in video games may play a significant role in influencing problem playing behaviour. Implications for theory and future research are discussed.
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A full discussion of all five taxonomic categories can be found in King et al. (2010a), but not reported here due to space limitations.
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List of Video Game Structural Characteristics
List of Video Game Structural Characteristics
Social interaction, communicating with other players
Belonging to a guild, clan or dedicated group
Competitive aspects, playing against other people, leaderboard rankings
Cooperation, working together to reach goals
Sharing tips and strategies about the video game with others
Positive comments from other players for skilful play
Making friends with other players in the game
Needing good reflexes to advance in the game
Mastering the controls, learning “combos” or “hot-keys”
The tactile sensation or “feel” of controlling the game (including force feedback, button mashing)
Managing resources in the game, such as items in your inventory
Being able to correct mistakes by reloading a save file
Customising in-game features, such as controls, rules, etc.
Using cheats to “break” the game
Creating your own content for the game, such as making your own maps
Taking on a new identity in the game
An emotional investment in an in-game character
Cut-scenes, extra non-playable story content
A complex game story, involving dialogue and narration
Different story outcomes based on your player actions
Linear story, same events happen every time
No endpoint or conclusion to the game
“Levelling up” a game character (including non-human characters, like a racing car)
Earning points, XP or other rewards
Parts of the game based on luck or chance, not skill
Being rewarded with rare, unique items for skilful play or playing for a long time
Doing the same thing over and over, in order to get a large reward (“grinding”)
Getting 100% completion in the game
Unlocking meta-game rewards, like “Achievement points” or Trophies
Sections of the game that are very difficult and require sustained effort with few mistakes
Playing the game on the hardest difficulty, facing very difficult challenges
Fast loading times between levels or multiplayer matches, and instant respawning when your character dies
Visual aspects, such as high-resolution textures and lighting effects
Sound, including music and audio effects
Franchise aspects, such as recognisable characters like Mario or Master Chief
Adult content, including explicit violence, adult themes
Licensed content, including recognisable real-life brands
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King, D.L., Delfabbro, P.H. & Griffiths, M.D. The Role of Structural Characteristics in Problematic Video Game Play: An Empirical Study. Int J Ment Health Addiction 9, 320–333 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-010-9289-y
- Problem video game play
- Structural characteristics