Self-Determination Theory in HCI Games Research: Current Uses and Open Questions

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • Queensland University of Technology


Self-Determination Theory (SDT), a major psychological theory of human motivation, has become increasingly popular in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research on games and play. However, it remains unclear how SDT has advanced HCI games research, or how HCI games scholars engage with the theory. We reviewed 110 CHI and CHI PLAY papers that cited SDT to gain a better understanding of the ways the theory has contributed to HCI games research. We find that SDT, and in particular, the concepts of need satisfaction and intrinsic motivation, have been widely applied to analyse the player experience and inform game design. Despite the popularity of SDT-based measures, however, prominent core concepts and mini-theories are rarely considered explicitly, and few papers engage with SDT beyond descriptive accounts. We highlight conceptual gaps at the intersection of SDT and HCI games research, and identify opportunities for SDT propositions, concepts, and measures to more productively inform future work.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Honolulu, United States
Duration: 25 Apr 202030 Apr 2020


ConferenceACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleACM CHI
CountryUnited States
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