The ideal self at play: The appeal of video games that let you be all you can be

Andrew K. Przybylski, Netta Weinstein, Kou Murayama, Martin F. Lynch, Richard M. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

183 Scopus citations


Video games constitute a popular form of entertainment that allows millions of people to adopt virtual identities. In our research, we explored the idea that the appeal of games is due in part to their ability to provide players with novel experiences that let them "try on" ideal aspects of their selves that might not find expression in everyday life. We found that video games were most intrinsically motivating and had the greatest influence on emotions when players' experiences of themselves during play were congruent with players' conceptions of their ideal selves. Additionally, we found that high levels of immersion in gaming environments, as well as large discrepancies between players' actual-self and ideal-self characteristics, magnified the link between intrinsic motivation and the experience of ideal-self characteristics during play.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Big Five
  • motivation
  • personality
  • self
  • self-determination theory
  • video games
  • virtual reality


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