The effect of screen sizes on gamers' intrinsic motivation when playing games

Zainal Abidin, Noor Fardela
Wellington, Robert
MacDonell, Stephen
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis reports on a study of the motivation of players of educational or constructive (E rated) games in relation to the screen size they used in game play. Educators have started to use games in the class room to encourage learning, and often they have been using small hand held consoles, but more work was needed on understanding the intrinsic motivation for engagement. Since engagement is what has prompted the uptake of educational gaming, this was deemed an important area to research. The growing popularity of video games has provoked scholars to look into various aspects of gaming. In this regard, one particular area of investigation is in relation to the intrinsic motivation among the gamers. Multiple screen sizes are found to influence players to play games from various viewpoints. For instance, from handheld consoles such as Nintendo Dual Screen (DS) and PlayStation Portable (PSP) as well as television based consoles like PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii. Despite a significant number of studies on motivation that have looked into how games should be designed in order to motivate gamers, few studies have investigated the effects of screen sizes on them Therefore, this thesis investigates the effect of screen sizes on gamers’ intrinsic motivation when playing games. The present study employed an ethnographically-informed method and a Simulated Gaming Environment (SGE) was created to serve as the “natural” environment for gamers. Participant observation and interviews were conducted for data collection. The Nintendo Wii played on a 40-inch screen and the smaller handheld console the Nintendo DS were the two consoles selected for the study, and Mario Kart (action kart racing game) and the Big Brain Academy (education game) were the games involved in this study. In order to validate the data and to retrieve additional information, a stimulated recall interview was performed. Upon assessing the inductive results emerging from the data of the study, it was concluded that in order for an individual to be intrinsically motivated in playing a game it depended on two factors; i) the enjoyment elements of playing the game; and ii) the personality type of the gamer. In the event of individuals wanting to feel intrinsically motivated, he/she must enjoy playing the game. In the case of the present study, the five enjoyment elements involved were: i) focus and concentration, ii) challenge, iii) immersion, iv) social engagement, and v) control. Another dominant but unforeseen theme that emerged from the data revealed that screen size preferences are influenced by the gamers’ personalities (i.e., introvert or extrovert). It has been found that extrovert gamers prefer playing games on big screens due to the support of social interaction, whereas introverts prefer a small screen owing to its personal space. The relationship between enjoyment and the personality types of gamers has been found to have a significant impact on the intrinsic motivation of gamers in relation to selected screen sizes. In regards of using game consoles and educational games in classroom, the present study suggests that it would be beneficial to first identify the type of learners, then the suitable game consoles (i.e., big screen or small screen handhelds) with the support of appropriate activities being assigned to their type of personality. As for game developers and designers, this study could provide another attribute (gamers, personality type, and enjoyment) to consider when designing games in accordance to screen sizes

Screen Size , Intrinsic motivation , Games , Ethnograpy , Personality traits
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