Thinking and Doing: Challenge, Agency, and the Eudaimonic Experience in Video Games

Cole, Tom and Gillies, Marco. 2021. Thinking and Doing: Challenge, Agency, and the Eudaimonic Experience in Video Games. Games and Culture, 16(2), pp. 187-207. ISSN 1555-4120 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The nascent growth of videogames has led to great leaps in technical understanding in how to create a functional and entertaining play experience. However, the complex, mixed-affect, eudaimonic entertainment experience that is possible when playing a video game—how it is formed, how it is experienced and how to design for it, has been investigated far less than hedonistic emotional experiences focusing on fun, challenge and ‘enjoyment.’ Participants volunteered to be interviewed about their mixed-affect emotional experiences of playing avant-garde videogames. New conceptions of agency emerged (Actual, Interpretive, Fictional, Mechanical) from the analysis of transcripts and were used to produce a framework of four categories of agency. This new framework offers designers and researchers the extra nuance in conversations around agency, and contributes to the discussion of how we can design video games that allow for complex, reflective, eudaimonic emotional experiences.

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This work was supported by the EPSRC IGGI Centre for Doctoral Training, grant number EP/L015846/1.


grounded theory, agency, eudaimonia, emotion, digital games

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11 September 2019Accepted
23 October 2019Published Online
1 March 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

08 Oct 2019 08:30

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 08:11

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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