Competition in Video Games: Hostility or Enjoyment?

The article Competitive Video Game Play: An Investigation of Identification and Competition poses many interesting ideas about how competition within video games, mainly sports video games, invokes feelings of enjoyment or hostility. They explore this idea of identification and how players connect to these video games as well as how this identification plays a part in competitive behaviour with both real sports and sports video games. Although I thought some of what was said was slightly obvious, I did feel that some of what was said was interesting.

One of their main areas of exploration was identification, being a “mechanism through which audience members experience reception and interpretation of the text from the inside, as if the events were happening to them”, as said by Cohen. From this, players identify with these virtual teams which, in turn, causes them to feel more competitive against other teams. I will also add that I learned that it was the competition in video games which caused hostile behaviour, not the violence in video games. As someone who spent a fair amount of time playing video games I noticed myself being slightly more aggressive after I played and now I understand why.

In regards to their connection with identification and competition, people who identify with certain teams will always know that concerning goal attainment, advancing toward a given goal means the opposing party moves further away as said by Griffiths et al. However, what I also found interesting was this idea of spectatorship that they presented. While in real life, one might just passively watch TV in order to watch a game, in video games it is much more interactive than this. One is less of a spectator in a video game and becomes more of an active participant. It must be included that supporting teams is accompanied with people spectating together which cements social circles and comradery. Additionally, while someone might be able to disconnect from a team if they are losing, in video games, one can’t engage in “mental maneuvering” in order to also disconnect from their team. Instead they have to suffer the defeat just as much as they experience the victory.

While competition can provoke hostility, it was said that playing against another person resulted in higher levels of enjoyment over merely playing alone. This idea of of competing with someone in real life just through a digital medium, still means there is human interaction; the stakes are higher, and more enjoyment is a result of this.

There were some parts of the paper that just seemed obvious to me, where Griffiths et al stated that winning causes more enjoyment than losing. For me this seems very unnecessary to explore as what they were already looking into seemed much more beneficial and significant. I still play video games sometimes and found that their results resonated with me a fair amount. One of their results was that identification with video games did cause more competitive behaviour, but did not impact enjoyment nor hostility. For me this is interesting because it is something I can somewhat test the next time I play. Of course, it’ll be biased, but it is still intriguing.

4 Comments

  1. Hi Mason, it is interesting to see how although there are so many obvious effects of video games, that there is still so much to explore. I find it especially interesting that negative behaviours come from competition versus violence in video games. I find that studies generally look at how violence affects players rather than competition. Do you think that the violence to competition ratio is quite substantial, or do you think that competition is primarily the cause for negative behaviours?

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  2. This is an interesting perspective because it seems like a lot of the material we’ve covered in class has been focussed on competition as a mostly negative experience for the people involved, whereas your summary here seems to indicate that there aren’t many negative emotional side effects of competition in video games at all, as ultimately it’s more fun to play competitively. How do you think this article compares with the perspective that our other readings have had on competition?

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your summary and your perspective. my favourite point you made was “While in real life, one might just passively watch TV in order to watch a game, in video games it is much more interactive than this”. It opens up the idea of how us interacting with the characters and actions/ missions in the game create this sense of feeling that we are in the game, which thereby invokes the emotions towards winning and losing. It also may make sense of why we don’t carry a sense of hostility with us maybe after a character in a reality tv show gets kicked off. It would be interesting if they did a study comparing it to the feelings that are triggered after watching certain tv shows with winners and losers.

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