Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

November 1, 2011 -

If you have ever wondered why you sometimes lose track of time when playing a particularly good video game, new research may have the answer. New research suggests it may be related to a theory called "time perspective." Time perspective assumes the existence of three "temporal frames" in the human brain - past, present, and future. This theory is thoroughly explained in Psych Central:

"The initial idea of time perspective assumed the existence of three temporal frames in the human mind—past, present, and future. Within this theory, a mind can shift attention between these frames, that is, a mind can focus on past experiences (past frame), present stimuli (present frame), or anticipated future events (future frame).

Zimbardo’s empirical verification of the idea brought two main findings. First, people do not use each temporal frame with equal frequency; they usually prefer one frame, which they use more often than others, and this preference is relatively stable in time.

Second, it is useful to divide both past and present frames into two independent factors (past positive and past negative; present hedonistic and present fatalistic) because they represent different mental characteristics with different correlates. Thus, five time perspective factors emerged as five personality factors."

With that theory in mind, researchers hypothesized that they would find a "significant positive relationship between present (hedonistic and fatalistic) factors scores and the amount of time spent playing MMORPGs and a significant negative relationship with future factor scores."

To do this they measured time perspective and the amount of time playing MMORPGs using 154 Czech respondents (141 men and 13 women). Test subjects were recruited in MMORPG Internet forums.

Researcher found the mean hours per week played was 28 hours, with a standard deviation of around 19 hours. The mean hours played per session was right around 4 hours, with a standard deviation of around 2.45 hours.

After examining the data, which was self-reported by participants, researchers found that time perspective was connected to how frequently someone played video games. In other words, the amount of play time directly correlated to a lower level of future time perspective and higher levels of present time perspective — "especially present fatalistic."

The imbalance of present factors toward present fatalistic is noteworthy because the findings differ from other activities such as drug abuse and gambling, where present hedonistic factor was the key variable. Present fatalistic is supposedly connected to feelings of dissatisfaction, aggression, and depression.

Researchers also found that “regardless of motivation for playing, it seems that future orientation prevents extensive playing, probably via time managing skills [sic].”

Basically the study finds that gaming is not like gambling or substance abuse - at least in the small sample group. Instead it is more like a good book or a movie - a form of escapism used to relief the stress of everyday life.

Naturally the findings may not apply to the general public (Americans, for example) due to culture, the sample size of the group, etc. In other words more research is needed to come to some definitive conclusion.

Source: Psych Central


Comments

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

"After examining the data, which was self-reported by participants,"

When it comes to how much time is spent gaming I don't think self reporting cuts it.

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

in short... "Time flies when you're having fun."

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

Hrm.... I wonder what would happen if they redid the study using more planning oriented games like EvE, Civ, or even Minecraft, where it can be said the player is mostly thinking in the future frame.

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

Up until the last paragraph confirmed it, I was gonna say: Isn't this just the same as losing track of what's going on around you when you get immersed in a good book, or so intently focused on a piece of work (painting for example)? Not really sure why games needed to isolated for the study.

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

Not so surprising, really, although this study is still interesting. Humanity's sense of time is one of the other actual human senses that grade-school teachers don't tell you about, like proprioception.

 
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MattsworknameWilson: how? Im still waiting for my upgrade notice07/29/2015 - 3:44am
Matthew WilsonI updated to a clean instill of windows 10.07/29/2015 - 2:36am
Mattsworknameargue that it's wrong, but then please admit it's wrong on ALL Fronts07/29/2015 - 2:06am
MattsworknameTechnoGeek: It's actually NOT, but it is a method used all across the specturm. See Rush limbaugh, MSNBC, Shawn hannity, etc etc, how many compagns have been brought up to try and shut them down by going after there advertisers. It's fine if you wanna07/29/2015 - 2:05am
Mattsworknamediscussed, while not what I liked and not the methods I wanted to see used, were , in a sense, the effort of thsoe game consuming masses to hold what they felt was supposed to be there press accountable for what many of them felt was Betrayal07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAs we say, the gamers are dead article set of a firestorm among the game consuming populace, who, ideally, were the intended audiance for sites like Kotaku, Polygon, Et all. As such, the turn about on them and the attacking of them, via the metods07/29/2015 - 2:03am
MattsworknameAndrew: Thats kind fo the issue at hand, Accountable is a matter of context. For a media group, it means accountable to its reader. to a goverment, to it's voters and tax payer, to a company, to it's share holders.07/29/2015 - 2:02am
Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Banning in the legal sense? Not that I'm aware but there have certainly been groups of gamers who have worked towards getting content they don't like removed.07/28/2015 - 11:45pm
DanJAlexander's editorial was and continues to be grossly misrepresented by her opponents. And if you don't like a site, you stop reading it - same as not watching a tv show. They get your first click, but not your second.07/28/2015 - 11:40pm
TechnogeekYes, because actively trying to convince advertisers to influence the editorial content of media is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, especially for a movement that's ostensibly about journalistic ethics.07/28/2015 - 11:02pm
Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
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MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
 

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