Engagement in digital entertainment games: A systematic review

Elizabeth A. Boyle, Thomas M. Connolly, Thomas Hainey, James M. Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

408 Citations (Scopus)


Since their introduction over 40 years ago, digital entertainment games have become one of the most popular leisure activities globally. While digital games clearly provide highly engaging activities, the nature of this engagement is not well understood. The current study aims to advance our understanding by reporting a systematic review of recent literature addressing engagement in computer games. The papers in the review comprise a sub-sample of papers relating to engagement in digital games that was selected from a broader literature search carried out on the outcomes and impacts of playing computer games. A diverse range of studies was identified that examined varied aspects of engagement in games including subjective experiences while playing games, the physiological concomitants of these experiences, motives for playing games, game usage and time spent playing games and the impact of playing on life satisfaction. A narrative review was carried out to capture these diverse aspects of engagement and to develop a more coherent understanding of engagement in computer games.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-780
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2012


  • Engagement
  • Enjoyment
  • Entertainment
  • Computer games
  • Flow
  • Motives


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