Here’s How Video Games Are Fulfilling Your Need For Achievement

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Video games and false sense of achievement.

Story Highlights
  • Video games contain in-game rewards such as trophies, character unlocks and enhanced powers, badges, and new worlds. Obtaining these provides gamers with a sense of achievement.
  • Game achievements create happiness and boost self-esteem and belief in their capabilities and skills.
  • This way of attaining fulfillment can be dangerous as it can cause gaming addiction and feelings of inadequacy.

We all want to feel like we are capable of doing significant things in life and that we are no less than others. Playing games subconsciously makes you believe you are smart and can handle challenges in life. But how exactly do video games fulfill your need for achievement? Let’s discuss.


What Is Need For Achievement?

Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist, proposed a theory suggesting that humans have an innate hierarchy of needs essential for achieving happiness and fulfilment. According to Maslow’s hierarchy, the fourth tier consists of Esteem needs, which come from achieving goals, success, and feeling competent on an individual level (Maslow, 1943).

Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs (Image By Psychology Today)

Only once these needs are met can an individual progress toward the top of the pyramid to achieve self-actualization, a concept that you have reached your maximum potential. Therefore, a person’s need for accomplishment and success must be met. One way to do this is by playing video games.


How Do Video Games Fulfill Achievement Needs?

Video games offer various prospects for a person to experience a sense of fulfillment through in-game rewards and trophies. These tangible markers of progress within the game provide players with a feeling of accomplishment and validation. 

Analyzing physiologically, obtaining rewards releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked with happiness and pleasure. Consequently, players feel good whenever they receive a reward or unlock new characters and stages. “The more a game fulfilled a player’s sense of independence, achievement, and connectedness to others, the more likely he or she was to keep playing,” Dr. Scott Rugby told Reuters. Players also feel better as more of this need is met during gaming.

Dopamine Is A Happy Chemical That Evokes Pleasure
Dopamine Is A Happy Chemical That Evokes Pleasure (Image By TruSribe)

Moreover, overcoming challenges, such as defeating enemies or conquering difficult levels, can evoke feelings of competence and mastery (Richter et al., 2015). Hence, it serves as a boost to their self-esteem and confidence. So, the next time they play a game, they have better confidence in their ability to beat in-game challenges.

To make the concept simple, let’s take an example of GTA. You are given missions to complete that, in turn, offer monetary rewards. This in-game currency can be used to purchase and customize outfits, cars, and weapons that enhance the gaming experience. The more personalized your gaming world is, the more meaning it brings for the player.


Is It Healthy?

While such accomplishments certainly give a dopamine rush, it is short-lived. Since there are various rewards, a player begins to focus on the next reward as soon as one is achieved. Ultimately, it keeps them hooked to the game for long periods, leading to gaming addiction.

Gaming Addiction Should Be Taken Seriously
Gaming Addiction Should Be Taken Seriously (Image By LinkedIn)

Furthermore, it creates a strong anticipation for the reward, and the player is more focused on unlocking the reward rather than enjoying the game and having a good time (Huldin & Norrman, 2018). If unable to achieve, it induces stress and frustration and can even lead to feelings of failure and inadequacy (Wang et al., 2023).

Conclusively, while relying on video games for a quick dopamine rush may be a good stress reliever, solely using them to attain accomplishment needs is unhealthy. Therefore, limit your gaming time so you can focus on other important activities and responsibilities in life. 


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