Why do people play games? A meta-analysis

Juho Hamari, Lauri Keronen

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

    126 Citations (Scopus)


    During the last decade games have arguably become the largest form of leisure information systems (IS). However, today games are also increasingly being employed for a variety of instrumental purposes. Although games have garnered a substantial amount of research attention during the last decade, research literature is scattered and there is still a lack of a clear and reliable understanding of why games are being used, and how they are placed in the established utilitarian-hedonic continuum of information systems. To address this gap, we conducted a meta-analysis of the quantitative body of literature that has examined the reasons for using games (48 studies). Additionally, we compared the findings across games that are intended for either leisure or instrumental use. Even though games are generally regarded as a pinnacle form of hedonically-oriented ISs, our results show that enjoyment and usefulness are equally important determinants for using them (though their definitive role varies between game types). Therefore, it can be posited that games are multi-purpose ISs which nevertheless rely on hedonic factors, even in the pursuit of instrumental outcomes. The present study contributes to and advances our theoretical and empirical understanding of multi-purpose ISs and the ways in which they are used.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)125-141
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Information Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


    • Games
    • Gamification
    • Meta-analysis
    • Meta-sem
    • Multi-purposed information systems
    • Technology acceptance

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 2


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