Why do gamers buy 'virtual assets'? An insight in to the psychology behind purchase behaviour

Cleghorn, J. and Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, 2015. Why do gamers buy 'virtual assets'? An insight in to the psychology behind purchase behaviour. Digital Education Review, 27, pp. 85-104. ISSN 2013-9144


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The present study investigated the phenomenon of buying 'virtual assets' for game avatars. Virtual Assets are items that are bought with real-world money for an avatar in-game. Weapons, items, pets, mounts and skin customisations are the most popular examples. Using a qualitative methodology - in this case Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) - six gamers that regularly bought in - game assets were interviewed. IPA was chosen because of its emphasis on lived experience, and each participant had subjective experiences of gaming and purchase behaviour. Of particular focus in this study were the superordinate themes of motivations for purchase behaviour, the resulting psychological impact on the gamer, the social benefits of gaming and virtual asset purchasing, emotional attachment, self-expression through the avatar, impulsivity versus thoughtfulness in purchase intention, and the impact of a transaction machinery on the 'game experience'. Motivations that were found to be of particular importance were item exclusivity, function, social appeal, and collectability. It was found that virtual items enable the gamer to express themselves, feel real satisfaction, and build lasting friendships. Essentially, virtual assets and gaming mostly had a very positive impact on the participant’s psychological wellbeing. Implications for gamers and games production companies are considered.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Digital Education Review
Creators: Cleghorn, J. and Griffiths, M.D.
Publisher: University of Barcelona, Research Group Education and Virtual Learning, Digital Education Observatory
Place of Publication: Barcelona, Spain
Date: 2015
Volume: 27
ISSN: 2013-9144
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 28 Oct 2015 10:34
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:55
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/25922

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