Research: Winning Isn’t Everything

New research suggests that people have more fun playing games due to challenge and unpredictability, as opposed to just winning. In fact, the research seems to indicate that winning without some sort of uncertainty can be pretty damned boring for players.

The study, which appeared in the journal Motivation and Emotion, concluded that uncertainty and suspense often brings players back again and again to a particular game.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by psychologist Sami Abuhamdeh, Ph.D., of Istanbul ┼×ehir University. Abuhamdeh’s team gauged the experiences of 72 undergraduate university students who played four rounds of Speed Slice on Nintendo Wii. Researchers tested participants’ levels of enjoyment, suspense, perceived competence, and performance concerns when they competed against a weak or a tough opponent.

The participants then rated their competence levels. Those ratings were higher, researchers found, when they won by a wide margin. But even though they rated their competence higher, participants experienced much lower levels of suspense and enjoyment.

When asked which of the two games they would like to play again (games won by a wide or slim margin), 69 percent of the participants chose to play the game they won by a slim margin.

"There is little question that succeeding at competitive activities can promote the enjoyment of and intrinsic motivation for such activities," said Abuhamdeh. "However, the uncertainty of whether one will succeed represents an additional, distinct factor and can sometimes even conflict with the motivational pull of competence."

More information on the study can be found here.

"Teens playing videogames," photo © 2013, 2014, Shutterstock. Used under license.

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