Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Finnán Connolly O'Sullivan 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

My name is Finnán Connolly O'Sullivan. I'm a 23 year old from North Dublin, and a 2024 graduate from Applied Psychology at IADT, specializing in the psychology-in-practice path. I have a strong interest in personality traits, motivation, and meaning within psychology. The works of Viktor Frankl, Carl Jung, Jean Piaget, and Frans de Waal (to name a few) were strong influences in this passion. My personal volunteering experience during this course has also enriched this, within real world settings. My goal is to develop my understanding and practice of psychology in clinical settings through further study in the near future.

Project Description

The monetization of video games have evolved from inserting coins into arcade machines, to disks in home consoles, and now to online free-to-play games with microtransactions. The current video game industry earn billions each year on virtual in-game items purchased by players. However, some players spend almost nothing, while others spend hundreds each month on these in-game items. Examples include extra lives, stronger weapons, or purely cosmetic items – so called ‘skins’. Understanding what specific individual traits of these gamers related to increased in-game spending was the goal of this study. Existing literature indicated that social and competitive gaming motivations, time spent playing, and aesthetic motivation could influence such spending. To investigate this relationship, players of the game 'Counter Strike 2' were chosen based on its significant and thriving in-game economy, where players buy and trade virtual skins between themselves constantly.

Project Objectives

This study employed an online survey questionnaire design, with thirty-nine purposively sampled participants who had played Counter Strike 2 and had spent money on its in-game virtual items, with ages between 18 and 36 years. Three independent variables were used, Time Spent in-game, Gaming Motivation score (Competition and Social) using the Online Gaming Motivation Scale, and Desire for Aesthetics scale. The dependent variable was total in-game money spent in US dollars. For the two scales used, participants answered on a Likert scale to questions such as; "I play online games... because I enjoy competing with others", or "... because I can get to know new people", or "I often find myself staring in awe at beautiful things". Spearman Correlations were used to determine the relationship between the independent variables and Monet Spent in-game.

Project Outcomes

The findings of this study both reject and support varied aspects of previous literature on the motivations of in-game spending. Factors relating to the Online Gaming Motivation Scale, specifically Social and Competitive Motivation, were not found to influence Money Spent in-game. Within Aesthetic Motivation, this was also insignificant. However, there was a significant strong positive relationship found between Time Spent in-game and Money Spent (ρ = .478, p < .01). This aligns with previous research highlighting the correlation between gaming engagement and in-game purchases. This result is consistent with the notion that in-game spending may be influenced by the level of involvement and commitment to the game by players. This could influence theories related to spending behaviour in other similar video games. Practically, these findings have implications for game developers and marketers seeking to understand and target different segments of gamers based on their motivations and spending patterns.

Thesis Title

Investigating The Relationship Between Gaming and Aesthetic Motivation on In-Game Spending in Counter Strike