MONDAY, Aug. 8, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- One reason why people worldwide spend 3 billion hours per week playing video games may be because the games allow them to "try on" characteristics they might like to have, a new study suggests.
The research included hundreds of casual game players and nearly a thousand dedicated players who were asked about their motivation for playing, as well as their post-game emotions.
The British researchers found that players' enjoyment seemed to be greater when there was an overlap between their actual self and their "ideal" self. That meant that being able to adopt a new identity during a game made players feel better about themselves and less negative.
"A game can be more fun when you get the chance to act and be like your ideal self," study author Andy Przybylski, of the psychology department at the University of Essex, said in a news release from the Association for Psychological Science. "The attraction to playing video games and what makes them fun is that it gives people the chance to think about a role they would ideally like to take and then get a chance to play that role."
He said he was "heartened by the findings which showed that people were not running away from themselves but running towards their ideals. They are not escaping to nowhere, they are escaping to somewhere."
The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.
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