The ‘Eudaimonic Experience’: A Scoping Review of the Concept in Digital Games Research

Rowan Daneels*, Nick Bowman, Daniel Possler, Elisa Mekler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
531 Downloads (Pure)


Digital games have evolved into a medium that moves beyond basic toys for distraction and pleasure towards platforms capable of and effective at instigating more serious, emotional, and intrapersonal experiences. Along with this evolution, games research has also started to consider more deeply affective and cognitive reactions that resemble the broad notion of eudaimonia, with work already being done in communication studies and media psychology as well as in human– computer interaction. These studies offer a large variety of concepts to describe such eudaimonic reactions—including eudaimonia, meaningfulness, appreciation, and self-transcendence—which are frequently used as synonyms as they rep- resent aspects not captured by the traditional hedonic focus on enjoyment. However, these concepts are potentially con- fusing to work with as they might represent phenomenological distinct experiences. In this scoping review, we survey 82 publications to identify different concepts used in digital gaming research to represent eudaimonia and map out how these concepts relate to each other. The results of this scoping review revealed four broad conceptual patterns: (1) appreciation as an overarching (yet imprecise) eudaimonic outcome of playing digital games; (2) covariation among meaningful, emo- tionally moving/challenging, and self-reflective experiences; (3) the unique potential of digital games to afford eudaimonic social connectedness; and (4) other eudaimonia-related concepts (e.g., nostalgia, well-being, elevation). This review pro- vides a conceptual map of the current research landscape on eudaimonic game entertainment experiences and outlines recommendations for future scholarship, including how a focus on digital games contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of eudaimonic media experiences broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-190
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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