Games & Wellbeing: Flow & need satisfaction

Exploring the relationship between video games and wellbeing: Experiences of flow and the satisfaction of psychological needs

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

As video games increase in popularity, there is a need to understand the complex impacts of gaming on players' wellbeing. While research suggests potential cognitive and wellbeing benefits associated with playing video games, some mechanisms within video games risk resulting in overspending and excessive gameplay (i.e., longer gameplay than intended, gameplay players find difficult to moderate, or gameplay resulting in other negative consequences for the player). We propose investigating the relationship between video games and wellbeing, focusing on flow and need fulfilment under a Self-Determination Theory (SDT) framework.

Flow theory emphasises the optimal experience individuals attain when deeply engaged in an activity. Meanwhile, SDT posits that people have innate psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Research shows that playing video games can cultivate flow states and meet these needs. However, flow states and need satisfaction are not necessarily ubiquitously positive, and many questions remain unanswered.

Some games appear to be designed according to these psychological principles, with the apparent goal of increasing play time. This, we suggest, may lead to something of a paradox; e.g., video games may provide transient satisfaction of autonomy needs, because of the sense of choice and control over virtual actions within the game environment. However, the immersive aspects of video gaming may impact individuals' autonomy in other life domains, in terms of time allocation, motivation, and prioritisation of non-gaming activities.

For whom and under what circumstances does video gaming result in well-being benefits versus detriments? More specifically: Do the wellbeing benefits experienced during gameplay persist beyond a gaming session? Does the experience of flow states and need satisfaction contribute to excessive gaming as defined above? How are flow states and need satisfaction during gaming/non-gaming related over time? In short, which gamers are living their "best lives", and which may be playing excessively and why.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Kate Talsma


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Kate Talsma to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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