“We found that people who experience intense boredom frequently in everyday life reported playing smartphone games to escape or alleviate these feelings of boredom,” said Chanel Larche, study lead author and a PhD candidate in cognitive neuroscience at Waterloo.
During gameplay, players can achieve the optimal arousal, engaged focus and attention and a reduction in feelings of monotony. At the same time, this increased urge-to-play among escape players can have negative consequences and lead to excessive time gaming.
Using the popular smartphone game Candy Crush,60 participants with current level standings in the game between 77 and 3307 play at various difficulty levels from too easy to balanced level.
This is done to determine whether players will choose to continue playing a game where there is a balance of challenge and skill conducive to flow, rather than an easier game that will generate less flow.
Their results confirmed that individuals who game to escape boredom by using smartphone games such as Candy Crush become more immersed in gameplay than non-escape players.
However, when escape players find these games more rewarding as a relief from boredom, they may play more frequently and for longer periods.
This behavior is maladaptive because, although it elevates your mood, it also increases your urge to keep playing. Playing too long may lead to addiction and the less time available for other healthier pursuits can increase the depression.
These findings might encourage game developers to consider implementing responsible video gaming tools directly within their games.