Positive Emotions Associated with "Counter-Strike" Game Playing.

Research paper by Mirim M Shin, Rob R Heard, Chao C Suo, Chin Moi CM Chow

Indexed on: 01 Oct '12Published on: 01 Oct '12Published in: Games for health journal


Digital game playing engages people for long periods of time. The pleasure offered by digital games may explain the players' consumption of this activity. Games may elicit both positive and negative emotions, which can be measured by encephalography (EEG). The EEG alpha asymmetry index (AI) is different in positive and negative emotions and so may be used to distinguish positive from negative emotions that occur during gaming. We hypothesized that the "Counter-Strike" (CS) game (Valve Software, Bellevue, WA) is pleasurable and demonstrable with a positive EEG AI.Twelve male participants ages 18-30 years underwent EEG recordings continuously during and postgame. EEG was also recorded pregame for control conditions of baseline (sitting on a chair staring at a blank wall), movement (moving fingers on the computer keyboard with a blank screen), sound (listening to the sound of the CS game with a blank screen), and screen (watching the CS game without playing). Self-ratings of emotional responses were completed at pre-, during, and postgame.A significant decrease in the EEG AI was observed under the screen condition compared with baseline, whereas an increase was observed postgame compared with the screen condition. The participants demonstrated a positive EEG AI following the "shoot" events (shoot opponents) and negative emotions after the "being shot" events. Subjective ratings of emotional response indicated happiness during and postgame, but anger and arousal were reported only during the game.The overall results are consistent with the hypothesis that predominantly positive emotional reactions are elicited from playing the CS game and concur with positive subjective ratings of happiness. Future studies may explore the relationship of game pleasure and obsessive game play.