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The influence of videogame reinforcement schedules on game play duration

Sault, DM (2015) The influence of videogame reinforcement schedules on game play duration. Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

There are concerns that game developers incorporate structural videogame
features designed specifically to maintain play, rather than for reasons such as
increased enjoyment. We used a custom videogame to empirically investigate if ingame
reinforcement schedules influence videogame playtime. 51 participants (24
female, 27 male), with ages ranging from 18 to 61 years (M = 25.88, SD = 12.31)
were randomly allocated to one of three reinforcement conditions: no reinforcement,
fixed-interval reinforcement, and variable-interval reinforcement. All participants
played a chess-like puzzle game and were instructed to try and complete four
available levels, with participants in reinforced conditions also instructed to try and
collect all trophies (reinforcements) on a presented list. Importantly, all participants
were instructed to only play for as long as they wished. Participants in reinforced
conditions played for longer than participants in the control condition (p = .049, d =
.76); however, no meaningful difference in playtime was observed between fixed and
variable interval conditions (p = .848, d = .07). Results support principles of operant
conditioning and provide preliminary evidence that structural videogame features
can influence videogame playtime. Limitations concerning power, and implications
for free-to-play videogames, awareness of potentially harmful videogame features,
and problematic gaming interventions are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Keywords: game reinforcement schedules, influence, videogame, playtime, duration, structural features, harmful gaming, interventions
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2015 the Author

Date Deposited: 15 May 2017 05:24
Last Modified: 15 May 2017 05:25
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