We’re delighted to announce the winners of our third set of Pre-GCSE Inspire competitions! For Class 3 we looked at the psychology of video games, focusing especially on reward systems and whether or not video game addiction should be a real concern. Our pupils have submitted some really extraordinary work, including surveying family and friends to find out what factors impact their immediate community’s relationship to gaming. You can read some of their work below.
Congratulations to the winners of Class 2 competitions:
- Lily, Ealing
- Marina, Ealing
- Mohammedbaqir, Ealing
- Nathan, Harrow
Each of you have won an Amazon voucher. This will be sent to the email address you provided in your competition cover sheet; please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you haven’t received yours by the end of the week.
In Class 3, pupils also had the opportunity to vote on whether or not they think video game addiction is a mental disorder. As we will see below in Competition 7, this is actually a much more complicated question than it first appears, but here are the results of that vote:
Do you think video game addiction is a mental disorder?
Conduct a small study of your friends and classmates to find out how much time they spend on average playing video games. To do this, you may want to:
- Think about what questions interest you and design an appropriate questionnaire of 5-10 questions. Some possible examples are:
- How much time per day do you spend playing games?
- What games do you play?
- Do you play games alone, or with family or friends?
- How does playing games make you feel?
- Ask at least 5 friends, classmates or family members to complete your questionnaire and return their answers to you.
- Analyse the results of your survey. Some interesting questions to consider in your analysis might be:
- What patterns can you find in your data? Try using a chart or graph to illustrate these patterns.
- Were you surprised by any of the answers people gave?
- Did younger people give different answers than older people?
- Does the data you collected support the statement that video games are addictive? Why or why not?
Your competition entry should consist of a report summarising your questionnaire and the answers you received, as well as your analysis of the results. Your report should be between 300 – 500 words in length.
First place: Lily, Ealing
In this detailed and considered analysis, Lily addresses the effects of the current lockdown on her data, and also discusses the complications of differing interpretations of the term video game.
To begin with, from 18 results, 2 stated that they don’t play video-games, while the other 16 did. This is around 90% of the people who answered my questionnaire. Only 2 people do not consider all online games to be video-games, which could show that people associate video-games with a gaming console – meaning that in actuality the amount of time spent playing games online could be much higher. 3 people said that it depends on the sort of game, which again suggests that what people consider to be video games are subjective to their own opinion. Moreover, this could show that video-games are toxic because people only consider them to be a small proportion of what they actually are. However, 13 people agreed that all games that are online are video-games, which shows that typically video-games are acknowledged and less dangerous – as people make choices knowing their full capability. There was a varied set of data for how long people play games over a week. This varied from 0-84 hours, but what is interesting is that the majority of results were beneath the 20 hours category, mostly below 10. This histogram also shows that a low proportion of people are spending above 50 hours playing video-games.
It is worth mentioning that the calculated average of 13.5 hours would mean that most people spend less than 2 hours playing video-games per day – which could be concerning if the group didn’t contain furloughed adults, and kids. Most people predicted that the average was higher than theirs, and 5 predicted that the average was lower – but the two people that predicted their times were average were within 5 hours of the actual average. This could show that people try to reconcile how much they play by comparing themselves to others – which can often make games more toxic. However, the need for justification could help people control the amount that they play video-games. Furthermore, when asked only 2 people said that they predicted people older than themselves would play more video games, which could show that it is associated with younger people (even though the highest time of gameplay came from adults in their mid-twenties).
As you can see from the pie-chart, the motivation is not mainly from connectivity, but entertainment and ‘momentary happiness’ as one subject called it. This is a good thing, even though increased dependency on video-games is not healthy. Most of the emotions felt when playing are positive, but there are some answers of frustration, envy and greed in more violent games. To conclude, when asked whether video-games were toxic, no-one said ‘yes’, but agreed that in large amounts they could be. From my findings, I think that as long as people find happiness (but are not dependant on it) in video-games, and that they are motivated to use it for appropriate reasons, they should be free to do so. However, I do agree that in large amounts, with negative messages video-games are toxic, because the danger isn’t immediate.
Second place: Marina, Ealing
Marina makes some important connections between motivation and available devices and the time that people spend playing games.
In this questionnaire, I asked 5 different people questions about how long they play video games and their reasons for doing so. The time spent playing video games varies from 20 minutes per week to 3 hours every day. Their motivations to play video games are mostly to relax or to play with friends.
In the answers, I found that the people who played video games for a few hours each day were more committed to playing them. For example, X.H is motivated to play video games in order to improve and O.M’s friends motivate him to play. I think these are motivations that might make someone want to come back and play video games more often as they might require more effort/work. The people who play video games just to relax are less committed to playing them and therefore, spend less time playing video games. Furthermore, in the data, there was a connection between the amount of devices that they could play games on and the time they spent playing games. For example, E.H said that she plays games only on her Xbox and only plays games for around 20 minutes per week.
I asked X.H whether he thought his video game usage is similar to his friends/family’s usage. He thought that they were similar. From this, I hypothesise that if you play video games with friends/family, it would be easier to control your video game usage as your friends might have some influence over your decisions. For example, when your friends stop playing, you will most likely stop playing. Obviously, this theory would have to be backed up by more evidence and may be incorrect.
Overall, I don’t think the results of the survey support the statement that ‘video games are addictive’ as video game addiction (as a medical term) refers to a pattern of consistent, uncontrollable and compulsive use of video games. This addiction causes severe damage to mental health and negatively affects someone’s lifestyle. The people who took my survey clearly know their limits of time they spend playing video games; They are able to tell me the average range of time they play. This means that they are able to control their usage, meaning that their video game usage is not excessive and carried out in a controlled manner.
Each class will have a photo, art or short video competition with a prompt based on the topic we are studying in that class. In Class 3, we looked at the psychology of video games, and we have learned that games reward the brain in many different ways. For this competition, we would like you to feature an example of a particularly effective rewards system you have encountered in a game. This might be something like an in-game currency, level-up rewards or game feedback.
Entries can be photographs, visual art or short (<10 seconds) videos. You should also include a short written explanation of your entry (maximum 100 words).
First place: Mohammedbaqir, Ealing
We particularly appreciated the link Mohammedbaqir has drawn here between tangible in-game rewards and the more subtle element of social reward!
Second place: Nathan, Harrow
Nathan does an excellent job of illustrating how Minecraft visually indicates rewards systems to its players.
- Batu, Harrow
Remember: the deadline for Class 4’s competitions is 5pm next Wednesday, 24 June. We’re looking forward to seeing some more fantastic work – and there are some more Amazon vouchers on offer for the winning entries!