How has game theory influenced video games

From the beginnings of video games to the first computer games

It is the largest entertainment industry in the world. With almost 3.3 billion euros in Germany alone in 2017, sales in the gaming industry even increased by 15% compared to the previous year. Video games are played by people of all ages and social classes and on a wide variety of platforms, from classic PC games to mobile phone apps or VR glasses. Around half of all Germans play and the number of users is rising steadily.

The gaming industry is like in the articles "From the beginnings of video games to the first computer games", "The triumph of digital games" readable, grown immensely through the development of modern consoles, games and gadgets. The industry hype is bigger than ever. E-sports, the public competition between individuals or teams in the field of video games, has become a global mass event.

The official Dota 2 World Championship The International 2012 opened with an impressive sum of 1.6 million dollars in prize money. Meanwhile, a ranking of the most highly dated e-sports tournaments worldwide (as of March 2018) shows that the prize money from The International 2017 is based on increased approximately $ 24.7 million.

Virtual games have long become a lucrative market. This can also be seen in the fact that video game companies are already investing in the market. Clubs like Schalke 04, for example, founded their own e-sports team. In South Korea, e-sports tournaments have long been broadcast on public television. In Germany, ProSieben MAXX and dare to broadcast.

Computer game designer and researcher at the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto, Jane Mc Gonigal, sees a particularly prominent opportunity in this steadily growing market: the gamers themselves. An opportunity in the sense that Mc Gonigal wants to use gamers as a human resource, to let them solve the world's problems in their discipline.

Their thesis that playing video games can save the world is not really intuitive at first. Gaming is mostly associated with clich├ęs of wasting time, escape from the world, isolation and addiction. Gamers and gaming are generally seen as a problem, not a solution to problems.

But other researchers, like Peter Gray, also see strong positive effects from gaming. In his opinion, video games promote cognitive, creative, social and motivational skills. For this he leads different empirical research. For example, studies of the cognitive abilities of gamers consistently show that young gamers, on average, have a higher IQ, better perceptual and mental abilities than non-gamers.

Of course, not all types of video games have the same effect on mental abilities, but strategy role-playing games and puzzle games have been shown to increase problem-solving skills. Linda Jackson and her colleagues examined the relationship between gaming behavior and creativity (using the Torrance test) in 491 children aged 12 years. They found a significant positive correlation between the time the children played and their creative abilities.

Mc Gonigal also appeals to another important skill that gamers possess: unique motivation. It is assumed that gamers are less inclined to give up solving a problem than non-gamers. L. Matthew Ventura and colleagues addressed this question in their study with college students and found positive results.

Another important factor conveyed through games is social skills. In the "emotion regulation theory" it is assumed that children learn to control their emotions, especially fear and anger, in games, since they intentionally put themselves in such emotion-evoking situations and learn how to deal with them. Gaming would therefore even be beneficial for the upbringing of young people.

Games are also often played in groups in order to achieve a common goal together. John Valez has found in several experiments that these cooperative games cause a temporary increase in the likelihood that players outside the play area will cooperate with or help other people.

So it can be stated that computer games are not the time-consuming, addictive drug and that gamers are not the loners on the precipice of addiction and violence that they are commonly mistaken for. The image of gamers and games accordingly demands a major change, especially in order to support and promote computer games in their positive effects.


Author: Lena Funk



Granic, I., Lobel, A., & Engels, R. (2014). The benefits of playing video games. American Psychologist, 69, 66-78.

Jackson, L, et al (2012). Information technology use and creativity: Findings from the children and technology study. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 370-379.

Valez, J.A., et al (2012). Ingroup versus outgroup conflict in the context of violent video game play: The effect of cooperation on increased helping and decreased aggression. Communication Research, 20, 1-20.

Ventura, M., Shute, V., & Zhao, W. (2013). The relationship between video game use and a performance-based measure of persistence. Computers & Education, 60, 52-58., 14.09.2018., 14.09.2018., 14.09.2018. Averagesalter-der-deutschen-gamer-stens-weiter/, 14.09.2018., 14.09.2018., 14.09.2018., 14.09.2018., 14.09.2018., 14.09.2018.