Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2014, 2, 57-60
Published Online August 2014 in SciRes.
How to cite this paper: Liang, S., Li, H.H. and Yang, X.J. (2014) The Video Game from the Perspective of Positive Psychology.
Open Journal of Social Sciences, 2, 57-60.
The Video Game from the Perspective of
Positive Psychology
Shuang Liang, Honghan Li, Xiaojun Yang
School of Educational Science, Guangxi Normal University, Guilin, China
Received Ju ly 2014
In recent years, video games have become one of the primary means of peoples daily entertain-
ment. With the diversification of video gaming platform and the enrichment of the contents, the
impact of video games on peoples mental health and behavior is increasing, and thus becomes a
hot research area of psychology. Traditional psychology has done a lot of research on the negative
impact of video games, but the advent of positive psychology offers a new research perspective of
the video game. This paper presents a review of the research focusing on the video games on
peoples emotions, positive personal trait qualit y positive personal trait, relationships from the
perspective of positive psychology, and offers suggestion for future video games d esign.
Positive Psyc hol ogy, Video Game s, Positive Effe ct, Video Game Design
1. Positive Steering of Traditional Psychology
Positive psychology is a new branch of psychology which uses scientific understanding and effective measures
of intervention to lead to satisfactory life, rather than just treating mental illness [1].
It was rooted in the humanistic psychology of the 20th century, which focused on the study of happiness and a
sense of achievement. Then in 1998, Martin Seligman, president of the American Psychological Association
chose it as the theme for his term made it as a new area of psychology. In 10 years of research in the late 20th
century, psychologists began to focus on the prevention of mental disorders, and further promote the develop-
ment of positive psychology. In January 2000 Seligman and Csikzentmihalyi published Positive Introduction to
Psychology, as a symbol; a growing number of psychologists began to get involved in research in this area, and
gradually formed a positive psychology movement [2].
Positive Psychology is focused on three different issues: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and pos-
itive institutions. Positive emotions are concerned with individual’s past, present, and future, they advocate
people should be content with the past, enjoy themsel ve s in the present and have hope for the future. Positive
individual traits relate to o ne s strengths and virtues. Finally, positive institutions are based on strengths to better
a community of people.
Traditional psychology paid more attention on the negative effect of the video games. Exposure to violent
video games will increase aggressive behavior in both the short term (e.g., laboratory aggression) and the long
S. Liang et al.
term (e.g., delinquency) [3 ].The development of positive psychology is to give us a new perspective. With the
further study of video games, more and more researchers have begun to shift the focus to the positive field of
video games. However, the current research focus more on positive effects in education, but less involved in the
positive impact on peoples real-life role in mental health.
2. Positive Psychological Value of Video Games
2.1. Effect on Positive Emotion of Video Games
The researches of positive emotions in positive psychology focus on subjective well-being. P laying video games
is conducive to arouse the emotion experience. Gamers had significantly better emotional experience, higher le-
vels of well-being, and to some extent, less depression compared to non-gamers [4].
The players in the video game can give vent to feelings, exchange ideas, which is conducive to promoting the
healthy development of emotional and psychological state [5]. Entertainment of video games also can enrich
people’s emotional experience; individuals can not only gain self-satisfaction and a sense of control while play-
ing video games, but also achieve emotional sublimation. For example, the Honorable company of Japan pro-
duced a game called Uncharted Waters, the game can lead the player to learn tolerance, p l anni ng and improve
the leadership of them by offering players a ut ho r it y to arr ange the positions of their partners. It provides differ-
ent ways to get the emotion experience.
In the process of overcoming difficulties and game upgradi ng, the player can acquire a kind of indeed satis-
faction detached from reality and enjoy the sense of self-efficacy and social identity which are difficult to get in
real life, it conducive to shift the emotional states from negative to positive, and enhance the well-being of the
gamers [6].
2.2. Effect on Positive Quality of Video Games
Video games can improve players’ intelligence and cognitive traits. At present, most of the video games on the
market contain a wealthy knowledge of social and cultural life, and can boost the level of their knowledge. The
game Uncharted Waters collects many ports and islands in Asia, Europe, America and other places in 16th cen-
tury, players in the game can find different parts of the historical sites and cultural landscapes, it widens the
geographical knowledge of players. Meanwhile, to some extent, video games can improve individuals critical
learning abilities and creativity. Sinc e players need to learn the rules and the special symbolic meaning in the
game, players can think critically the game as a system and a well-designed space, rather than a simple game
environment [7]. Critical and creative thinking in the context of the game holds an important position in human
psychological development and in the formation of thinking.
Besides, video games have an important affect on peoples behavior, moral behavior education which based
on the emotion can make use of the positive effect of video games. Po sitive video games can promote virtue and
strength of players, which is the core of positive qualities of individuals. Digital games lab in Taiwan Normal
University had extend the influence of video games on players to educational practice, found it useful for help-
ing students to establish an appropriate sense of morality and values [8].
2.3. Effect on Positive Interpersonal Relationship of Video Games
With the popularity of video games, a growing concern for interpersonal indifference appears. Studies have
shown that playing video games does not affect the relationships between people. Instead, the pattern of interac-
tion and linkages between people has been established in a new way [9]. Video games is not a simple course of
the game, to a greater extent, it is a process of integration of social interaction.
From the single game, the game players are generally discussed strategy and cooperated with the other for so-
cial interaction, and for network video games, the game itself will need to interact with other players during the
game, you can chat with other people, and you can form virtual-teams game in the interactive process. Extended
to real life, due to the formation of a pleasurable experience and cooperation, a lot of players in the game extend
to life and become good friends [10].
In addition, video games can also help people learn how to get along with people, in order to help promote the
development of positive interpersonal relationships. An earlier study [11] insisted that too many young people
who spent most of their time in entertainment center are not playing the game, but putting a virtual video game
S. Liang et al.
scene as a social gathering space. Gamers can share the game experience and resources to create common activi-
ties through websites, forums and other communication platform. So relationship between video games and ga-
mers is not a simple human-computer interaction model, but a relationship which contains discussion, collabora-
tion and reflection on the process of peer group [12].
3. Design of Video Games in the Perspective of Positive Psychology
The current video game designed to be fighting and violence to attract players, but this design will cause a
negative impact. If you can explore the physiological and psychological mechanisms gaming entertainment
and gaming experience from various levels of positive psychology, and the importance of enhancing positive
emotions, quality, relationships, players will be able to promote the healthy development which is largely
3.1. Inten sifying Game’s Conte nt of Learned Optimism
Optimistic attitude can be obtained through learning. Seligman believes that optimism is the lasting, wide-
spread and internal attribution to the good things when individuals interpreting the events that have oc-
curred, while the bad ones, they have short, specific and external attribution [15]. This attribution can be
acquired through learning, that the interpretation of the event changes from negative to positive attribution
wa y.
Therefore, we can consider to injecting some factors in video games which allow people to learn optimism
to situational factors on peoples cognition, emotion, and physiological arousal. Firs tly, set an optimism
story as the backward of the game, although the story is simple, its’ meaning in immersing and engaging the
player is extremely important. The role of the optimism story can be educative. Secondly, the video games
can be designed to encourage students to solve the problems with an optimistic attitude. Setting personal
goals, gathering information, discovering and doing some modification of the negative thoughts should be
involved in the game (Rollings & Adams, 2003). Lastly, optimistic attitude can be trained by example
learning, and players can be more optimism by communicating with other partners. It make the game not
only allows players to experience the fun, but also learned a positive and optimistic attitude towards life.
3.2. Inten sifying Game’s Positive Emotional State with Flow
Choosing a suitable content of optimism is only one aspect in the design. Positive psychology still focuses on
positive emotions and experiences, such as subjective well-being, and atte ntion. The emotional experience is the
source of the positive and op timistic e motion. Flow can arouse the positive emotion as a psychological statement
[13], so that the game designers can add it to video games.
Flow describes a state of someone complete focusing himself on the activity and forgetting everything outside,
it so refers to the optimal experience. Game designers should take the flow theory into consideratio n, using posi-
tive images and wonderful voice to generate a positive and steady statement in the process will be successful
and engaging [5].
Adding the flow experience into the game process, players invol ving wi th the goal driven activity forget time,
place, nearly himself so that nothing else seems to matter. Past research has shown that attention get from flow
state has positive impact on getting positive emotion [14]. On the other band, Results indicate that in general,
players evaluate their performance worse if they have been confronted with harder game difficulty. Game de-
signers should pay more attention to matching the challenges with a player’s skill level with the inspiration of
flo w.
3.3. Inten sifying Games Interactive Functions
Some scholars believe that the game is often the booster among the social, communication and peer group activ-
ities [15]. Whether it is from the game or from the promotion and marketing of game, the interaction is an essen-
tial factor. A good game should be built on the reality of communication.
Nowadays, video games offer a virtual e nvir o nment for players, but if one plays as a role in the game, he/she
is a part of it, and is getting still closer to reality. Video games should be designed to connect to everyday life
and the friends circle, so that it can keep the relationship with friends and everyday life experience. Such con-
S. Liang et al.
crete experience is the heart of the video game design approach in which knowledge is constructed, not trans-
mitted, as a result of experiencing and interacting with the environment.
Besid es, games that encompass the methods of how to maintain social relation better are believed to hold the
potential to render good results and make it more enjoyable, more interesting, and, thus, more effective.
Finally, game developers can perform interactive games designed for certain specific groups. For example,
depression, and get the treatment methods of positive psychology into video games, so the treatment of depres-
sion in patients with entertainment in the game, so that they get mental health training and development.
4. Conclusion
Impact of video games has been a controversial topic, although there may be many problems of its own, we
cannot always staring at its negative effects, because blindly restrictions and negative resist does not solve the
problem fundamentally. We should try to proceed from the perspective of positive psychology, probe the re-
search point of video games that meet the mental health needs of people, and try to explore its positive side. The
Positive Psychologys father Seligman also pointed out that creating good video games can improve human
well-being. He believes that video games can promote peoples emotions, quality and relationships in a positive
direction. Positive impact and application of video games have just started in China, we need many people work
together to promote human development, and turn it into mankinds spiritual feast.
[1] Seligman, E.P. and Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000) Positive Psychology: An Introduction. American Psychologist, 55 , 5-
[2] Time Magazine’s Cover Story in the Special Issue on The Science of Happiness, 20 05 (PDF). Retrieved 2011-02-07.
[3] Anderson, C.A. and Dill, K.E. (2000). Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in the Labora-
tory and in Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 772-790.
[4] Jason , C.A., McLaughlin, A.C., Trujillo, A., Whitlock, L.A., LaPorte, L. and Gandy, M. (2013) Successful Aging
through Digital Games: Socioemotional Differences between Older Adult Gamers and Non-Gamer s. Computers in
Human Behavior, 29, 1302-1306.
[5] Zh ao, Y. L., He, Y. and Zheng Y. (2011) Negative Effects of Video Games and Disputes. Advances in Psychological
Science, 19, 1788-17 97
[6] Ti an , W. (2009) The Educational Potential of Online Games from a Psychological Perspective. Journey of Chongqing
University Science and Technology, 2, 21 4-215 .
[7] Jackson, L.A. (2011) Information Technology Use and Creativity: Findings from the Children and Technology Project.
Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 370-37 6 .
[8] Wang, D. and Liu, D.H. (2012) Review of Correlative Research of Young Peoples Network Game. Advertising Pa-
norama. 12, 53-61 .
[9] Staffan, B. (2008) Games, Gamers, and Ga mi ng : Understanding Game Research. Proceedings of the 12th International
Conference on Entertainment and Media in the Ubiquitous Era.
[10] Shang, J.J. and Zhuang, S.Y. (2008) Value Research of the Game’s Applications in Edu cati on. Distance Education
Journal, 6, 63-68.
[11] Greenfield, P.M. (1984 ) Mind and Media: The Effects of Televisio n. Computers and Video Games. Harvard University
Press .
[12] Williamson, B. and Facer, K. (2003) More than Just a Game: The Implications for Schools of Children’s Computer
Games Communities. Education, Communication and Information, 4, 253-26 8.
[13] Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1991) Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper Perennial, New York.
[14] Webster, J., Trevino, L.K. and Ryan, L. (1993) The Dimensionality and Correlates of Flow in H uman-Computer Inte-
raction . Computers in Human Behavior, 9, 411-426 . Cite Uses Deprecated Parameters (Help).
[15] Cao, X.M. and Liu, X.P. (2008) Positive Psychology from Learned Helplessness to Learned Optimism: Seligman’s
Contribution to the Development of Psychology. Advances in Psychological Science, 16, 562-566.