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Reward Preference in Video Games

Report ID:
May 2012
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The world has already spent 5.93 million years playing the video game World of Warcraft. What makes video games rewarding? We suggest that one important factor in a player?s enjoyment of a game is the schedule of rewards, specifically, we hypothesize that variable rewards are more interesting and enticing than a fixed reward size. To test this hypothesis we studied several variable reward schedules contrasted with a fixed reward schedule in a custom-built video game. We found that variable reward schedules were preferred to fixed reward schedules with the same mean, except when the variable schedule?s range was extended. We further hypothesize that reward schedule preference is a good indicator for game genre preference. The participants favoring some game genres had strong inclinations for a particular reward schedule. Ultimately, our conclusions can be applied to make more effective the now ubiquitous game mechanics that surround us in both the real and virtual world.

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