Competition in Video Games: Where Salience is Key

Griffiths et. Al.’s essay “Competitive Video Game Play: An Investigation of Identification and Competition” looks at how competition affect the enjoyment and hostility in terms of sporting video games. The researchers look at how playing as a particular team in a video game affects the participant’s enjoyment of the game. If a player was playing with a salient team in which they identified, than feelings of hostility or enjoyment of the subject were increased.

            To see how important certain teams were to players, the researchers asked participants to rank certain teams in terms of identification on a scale from not important (1) to very important (8) by answering certain question sets. Further, participants ranked their enjoyment of the game, hostility, and other variables on similar scales. This questions and scales are affective, as they provide a clear and accurate measure of these different variables. As the authors explain, “results showed that losing the game produced greater hostility compared to winning. This result further supports prior research addressing frustration, competition, and hostility (Berkowitz, 1989, 1990)” (Griffiths et al. 479). These conclusions were based on six hypotheses that the researchers tested.

           One strong aspect about this essay is that the authors acknowledge a knowledge gap in the opening paragraph of their paper. Although research has been conducted on the topic of video games, they admit that the research on the effects of gameplay is limited. This helps situate the essay in the wider scope of the academic literature. The many secondary sources also help contextualize and provide evidence for the claims in this paper. Also, the authors state the importance and need for future research that can be conducted to add to this research field, which is a great way to encourage and facilitate future research.

            Overall, this is a well-written and researched essay. The methods in that the authors used were relevant to collect that data that would be used to answer their research questions. I also believe that the conclusions can be translated into other fields of study and life overall. Confirming that competition affects enjoyment and hostility, we can relate this to other parts of competition, which gives this study a diverse reach that stretches beyond the parameters of video game research; the potential for future related research is vast.

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  1. This was an interesting read, I think it was important that you pointed out the limitations in the literature. I was wondering, based on the limitation you described, why is research on the effects of video games so limited?


  2. Hi kostaxinos6906! I enjoyed reading your post. I also read this article for class (and in fact I kept running across it while I was researching for my essay). I think one of the most interesting aspects of this essay was the fact that it substantiated the idea that it was not the aggressive or violent aspects of a video game that increased hostility levels in the player, but rather the competition. This is a pretty bold claim to make, as both in game studies research and in popular media the violent acts depicted in video games often get a pretty bad rep, and are identified as the instigator of a whole host of social maladjustment (I am thinking of a news story which circulated a few years ago when Pokemon Go was first released and a brawl broke out in Norway between two players. If cartoon animals “fighting” caused that, then what would GTA cause?!).

    Both the competition and salience/identification claims made by Griffiths et al are important, and as you say, widely applicable to future research. Outside of E-sports and sports more generally, this would explain a whole host of hostile behaviour in non-violent competitive environments—say, any tournament that currently exists. I guess what this paper leaves me wondering, then, is how we navigate competition in video games if it effects both enjoyment and hostility. It seems like most people would want to maximize one while decreasing the other. This is perhaps beyond the scope of this class, but I’m wondering if you think the producers of video games have any kind of obligation to heed (or even read) this kind of research?


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