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  Commercial Bias in ‘Why Do They Play’ Game Studies?  
 
 
Posted 2007-01-07 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Summary results from a series of studies indicate that "fun" is only the basest of reasons players enjoy games, the CBC reported last month. The studies, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, were co-authored by a University of Rochester grad student and the president of gamer-experience research firm Immersyve. According to Immersyve, the studies "show that players are most attracted to games that give them positive experiences that are akin to 'real world' challenges, rather than merely a shallow sense of fun." Note to self: Is fun shallow?

I brought the summary results to the attention of my father, Dr. Richard Walsh-Bowers, Professor of Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. Pops pointed out that Dr. Scott Rigby, co-author of the studies, sells that which he promotes as a research psychologist.

I don't happen to have access to the full studies, but I feel their value (as described in news reports and by Immersyve) is undermined by Dr. Rigby's corporate position. Being president of a commercial research firm, it is in his interest to develop a "model" attractive to the game industry. As Dr. Rigby says on his own web site: "...when games meet the underlying needs in our model, they not only predict better psychological outcomes for players, but better commercial success for games." Translation: Buy into our model, increase profits. For me, this calls into question the science behind the (foregone?) conclusions.
 
     
 
   
 
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Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
January 7, 2007 @ 10:33 pm
     
 
but I feel their value (as described in news reports and by Immersyve) is undermined by Dr. Rigby's corporate position.

I totally agree. In fact, this problem infects much of the whole "ludology" game research domain. The conferences they hold are frequently financed considerably by the game/virtual world industry. What does it mean when the makers of Second Life or There fund State of Play, for example? I've raised this with some of the TN professors and they either ignore the challenge or write long thumb-suckers justifying their work privately to me. It's not unlike the field of foreign affairs and security studies, however, which is often infected by government funding.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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