Video games although designed for the purpose of entertainment and escapism performs various other functions. One of these functions is the male need. This pertains to the core psychological needs of men.
The inception of video games into the entertainment industry began in the 1970s. It was a response to the increasing advancements in computer technology and software; as a means of entertainment. Following the years after its introduction into the beast that is entertainment, video games began to take on another purpose, escapism. Video games provided countless individuals a chance to escape from their reality for a multitude of reasons. Unbeknownst to most, video games were unknowingly catering to the male need. This need was psychological and core to the needs of men. The psychological need fulfilled by video games were a need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
The need for autonomy. Contextually, it is more personal autonomy than mere autonomy, meaning the individual has the capacity to decide for oneself and pursue a course of action within said capacity. Video games provide the ideal environment for this need to be satisfied, as particular genres of games satisfy the male need for autonomy. These games empower them to meaningfully shape the narrative of the game and allow them to act with volition in their exploration of the virtual world.
Research has shown that games which allow players to make decisions surrounding gameplay, and as well as have a demonstrable effect on the story’s narrative, are significantly more satisfying. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as an innate curiosity and deep-seated need surrounding free agency. The Dragon Age series demonstrates this quite well through not only giving players the freedom to make decisions that have a significant impact on how the story unfolds but forces players to choose between two or more difficult decisions. As these decisions have a direct impact on the story’s development and the player’s interaction with other characters, it further emphasizes their autonomy, which satisfies the male need for autonomy.
The need for competence. Although competence is essential for both genders, males have a more necessary need for it. This necessary need finds grounds in differences to how women and men react to receiving supportive behavior, such as empathy, meaning when women receive empathic support it relieves stress but it differs for men. The difference is men receiving support tend to find it stress-inducing rather than stress-relieving, as men find stress relief through competence.
Video games, especially those where competence is essential to gameplay fulfill this need. The motivation employed by these types of games prioritizes mastery of its gameplay mechanics, so as to sufficiently progress through the various challenges players come across in the game world. The Bayonetta series demonstrates this motivation through its gameplay. The player is encouraged to explore ways to dispatch enemies with as much flair as possible through the use of both melee and long ranged attacks, complex combo strings, and multiple weapons. Furthermore, the Bayonetta series is designed to deliver visual cues to notify players of their achievements and give feedback for their performance.
Ranked leaderboards, progress bars and earning badges for achieving certain tasks are all elements found within games that span a variety of different genres. These visual cues along with games that encourage player competence, satisfy the male need for competence.
The need for relatedness or social connection. Men desire to belong, it is a basic human need yet a fundamental motive sufficient to drive human behavior. Thus, the human need for belonging needs to form and maintain at least a minimum amount of lasting, positive, and significant interpersonal relationships. This is achieved through social interaction and competition, two of the ways men ensure their social connections.
Popular massively multiplayer online (MMO) games satisfy this need by having the needs embedded into the mechanics of the gameplay. For example, raids require a large group of players to coordinate their actions and work together in order to defeat a difficult boss fight. Typically, this involves each player fulfilling a specific role in the fight, where failing to do so will cause the whole team to fail. Such cooperative activities lead to players forming strong social bonds as they experience stressful (and perhaps exhilarating) feelings as they work together to achieve inter-dependent goals and beat the game. Therefore, MMO games and other games similar to them whose gameplay focuses on cooperative activities encourage social bonding and even competition through player versus player (PVP) matches. Thus, they satisfy both the male need for social connection through social interaction and competition.
In conclusion, although video games are not made nor designed around satisfying the male need. One cannot deny that video games indeed satisfy the male need. This is evident from video games giving the player autonomy, encouraging competence, prioritizing social interaction and competition. These are the three core psychological needs of men.