Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

November 1, 2011 -

If you have ever wondered why you sometimes lose track of time when playing a particularly good video game, new research may have the answer. New research suggests it may be related to a theory called "time perspective." Time perspective assumes the existence of three "temporal frames" in the human brain - past, present, and future. This theory is thoroughly explained in Psych Central:

"The initial idea of time perspective assumed the existence of three temporal frames in the human mind—past, present, and future. Within this theory, a mind can shift attention between these frames, that is, a mind can focus on past experiences (past frame), present stimuli (present frame), or anticipated future events (future frame).

Zimbardo’s empirical verification of the idea brought two main findings. First, people do not use each temporal frame with equal frequency; they usually prefer one frame, which they use more often than others, and this preference is relatively stable in time.

Second, it is useful to divide both past and present frames into two independent factors (past positive and past negative; present hedonistic and present fatalistic) because they represent different mental characteristics with different correlates. Thus, five time perspective factors emerged as five personality factors."

With that theory in mind, researchers hypothesized that they would find a "significant positive relationship between present (hedonistic and fatalistic) factors scores and the amount of time spent playing MMORPGs and a significant negative relationship with future factor scores."

To do this they measured time perspective and the amount of time playing MMORPGs using 154 Czech respondents (141 men and 13 women). Test subjects were recruited in MMORPG Internet forums.

Researcher found the mean hours per week played was 28 hours, with a standard deviation of around 19 hours. The mean hours played per session was right around 4 hours, with a standard deviation of around 2.45 hours.

After examining the data, which was self-reported by participants, researchers found that time perspective was connected to how frequently someone played video games. In other words, the amount of play time directly correlated to a lower level of future time perspective and higher levels of present time perspective — "especially present fatalistic."

The imbalance of present factors toward present fatalistic is noteworthy because the findings differ from other activities such as drug abuse and gambling, where present hedonistic factor was the key variable. Present fatalistic is supposedly connected to feelings of dissatisfaction, aggression, and depression.

Researchers also found that “regardless of motivation for playing, it seems that future orientation prevents extensive playing, probably via time managing skills [sic].”

Basically the study finds that gaming is not like gambling or substance abuse - at least in the small sample group. Instead it is more like a good book or a movie - a form of escapism used to relief the stress of everyday life.

Naturally the findings may not apply to the general public (Americans, for example) due to culture, the sample size of the group, etc. In other words more research is needed to come to some definitive conclusion.

Source: Psych Central


Comments

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

"After examining the data, which was self-reported by participants,"

When it comes to how much time is spent gaming I don't think self reporting cuts it.

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

in short... "Time flies when you're having fun."

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

Hrm.... I wonder what would happen if they redid the study using more planning oriented games like EvE, Civ, or even Minecraft, where it can be said the player is mostly thinking in the future frame.

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

Up until the last paragraph confirmed it, I was gonna say: Isn't this just the same as losing track of what's going on around you when you get immersed in a good book, or so intently focused on a piece of work (painting for example)? Not really sure why games needed to isolated for the study.

Re: Why Gamers Might Lose Track of Time While Playing

Not so surprising, really, although this study is still interesting. Humanity's sense of time is one of the other actual human senses that grade-school teachers don't tell you about, like proprioception.

 
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Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
Matthew WilsonSF have to build upwards they have natural growth limits. they can not grow outwards. ps growing outwards is terable just look at Orlando or Austin for that.04/16/2014 - 4:15pm
ZippyDSMleeIf they built upward then it would becoem like every other place making it worthless, if they don't build upward they will price people out making it worthless, what they need to do is a mix of things not just one exstreme or another.04/16/2014 - 4:00pm
Matthew Wilsonyou know the problem in SF was not the free market going wrong right? it was government distortion. by not allowing tall buildings to be build they limited supply. that is not free market.04/16/2014 - 3:48pm
 

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