The Positive Psychology of Online Games: Experiencing Mindful Flow
Lately, online games are gaining increasing attention as an outlet. In "positive psychology" Csikszentmihalyi has found out that a large part of happiness is achieved by voluntary activities - half of which is determined by flow. Csikszentmihalyi studied people's inner states while pursuing activities that appear to contain intrinsic rewards such as dance, sports, chess, and music. He highlighted a common experience of "flow state" which is merging action and awareness of joy through total immersion in an activity that is challenging yet closely matched to one's skills. Games are considered as the best inducers of flow. While such a mental state is highly correlated with subjective well-being, it also enhances concentration, perception, learning capacity and self-esteem of players (1991). Prior empirical research and literature, have employed various theoretical frameworks including state of flow; however, they have often demonstrated the negative consequences such as addiction of such games through flow or employed experiential sampling. I have looked into a few examples from commercial online games of an emergent economy as an exploratory research with the help of senior advertising students. As representatives of generation Y, students are more interested in online games including advergames as well as social media; therefore, using convenience and snowball sampling is adequate for choosing the online advergames. Comparing these games with respect to the criteria of the Flow Model is sufficient in explaining the main aspects; however, experimental research with control groups might be more appropriate to understand the nature flow in future studies.