The Legend of Zelda and Abraham Maslow's Theory of Needs: A Social-Psychological Study of the Computer Game and its Players

  • Paul Brown

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis is concerned with the prosocial effects and social psychological pleasures of computer game play. It argues that much of the research on this area has focused on the search for negative effects, ignoring possibilities of the positive. Based on both email and face to face interviews with players of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the thesis considers their testimony alongside Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to reveal numerous benefits that engagement with the computer game may bring. These benefits include not only the prosocial - the strengthening of relationships within families and between friends - but also the more deeply psychological, helping to satisfy needs for development and growth. The thesis argues that such findings not only reveal a great deal about those studied but are also suggestive in relation to the wider computer game audience. Furthermore, such findings draw attention to the fact that if the computer game - a cultural form becoming ever more ubiquitous - is to be understood in its entirety, then there is a need for further research on its prosocial and positive psychological effects. Finally, the thesis critically demonstrates the value of Maslow's theory for Computer Game Studies and offers a methodology through which future research may be undertaken.
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGraeme Kirkpatrick (Supervisor) & Gemma Edwards (Supervisor)

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