lunes, 18 de febrero de 2013

Playing to Happiness: Part 1

Its been quite a while since the introduction post that opened Epic Win but before we could continue with more proper gamification and business topics, i felt that we had to establish some basic theory about the psychology of human beings and their motivations to play games.

After doing some research i came to the point that no one had really created a theory to explain WHY WE PLAY, why people are playing games instead of devoting themselves to other interesting activities. And since i couldn't go on without something like a theoretical base that supported what i was saying i decided to build up my own and very humble theory (wish i was an expert!)

It has taken me more than one month, some litters of coffee (loving hazelnut one) and nights of being awake until late but i think i finally got something interesting to check out! (Hopefully). This section is called Playing to happiness and it is divided into two parts that gather together the knowledge of the very best experts in the happiness, psychology, and games world to create a simple and easy to understan new theory in the gamification world.

This is why i think people play and i want to share it with you all!

Lets start from the very beginning, and that has everything to do with the human endless pursuit of happiness. Because playing games is all about happiness and I'm going to try to explain why.

We (L) Fun - Happiness PERMA Factors

Since we are born, we all love fun. Funny things are what make our early days super great and even when we grow up, we crave for fun moments! But if we love fun that much is because usually, it involves happiness through the emotions that those fun times generate.

According to the latest studies in the positive psychology field, happiness is compounded by 5 PERMA factors (link to wikipedia i copy+pasted it):

- Pleasure like tasty foods, warm baths, sex etc.
- Engagement or flow (see Intro post), the absorption of an enjoyed yet challenging activity
- Relationships, since we are a social animal
- Meaning or the feeling of belonging to something bigger
- Accomplishments in our life, goals we try to reach

In his book "Game On", John Radoff mentions a list of 42 things that are funny, and is surprising that mostly all of them involve emotions that are related to this or that PERMA factor. And then is when games come to scene because the main reason why we play games is not only because they are funny but they are also a great daily dose of happiness.

In example, one of this "42 fun things" is "organising and being organised into social groups of people". This might sound a bit weird or amoral, but lets think for a moment about one of the main targets of the best seller game "World of Warcraft", which involves many of the 42 fun activities (from that its success), and creating powerful guilds to rule the world is one of them. If we check out the PERMA factors, one of the most powerful ones is "the belonging to something bigger than us" factor. The feelings and emotions that being part of the virtual family of a great guild are closely related to increases in our happiness status.

There is a part of the post still missing, but to sum up, games are activities that involve many factors that make them funny, and those emotions experimented when playing make us happy or in psychology terms, they can be classified into one of the five PERMA cathegoties of happiness.

Victor Manrique