Lin & Bhattacherjee 2010: A TAM for Games


Lin, C.-P., & Bhattacherjee, A. (2010). Extending technology usage models to interactive hedonic technologies: a theoretical model and empirical test. Information Systems Journal, 20(2), 163–181.
Other References
Brody, H. (1992) The pleasure machine. Technology Review, 95, 31–36.
Carter, M., & Grover, V. (2015). Me, my self, and I(T):  Conceptualizating information technology identity and its implications. MIS Quarterly, 39(4), 931–957.
Childers, T.L., Carr, C.L., Peck, J. & Carson, S. (2001) Hedonic and utilitarian motivations for online retail shopping behavior. Journal of Retailing, 77, 511–535.
Van der Heijden, H. (2004) User acceptance of hedonic information systems. MIS Quarterly, 28, 695–704.
Venkatesh, V., Morris, M.G., Davis, G.B. & Davis, F.D. (2003) User acceptance of information technology: toward a unifying view. MIS Quarterly, 27, 425–478.


My gut is that the study presents an incomplete model of why people play games. Looking at only technical quality as an influence on perceived enjoyment leaves out a considerable number of factors identified by the GAMER Group regarding video game appeals. The authors may have done further work to fill the gaps I perceive—I haven’t checked—but none of that is particularly important to my research.
What is important is that the authors justify modeling hedonic software use separate from existing models of, presumably, all software use. Researchers in the domain have tended to study utilitarian artifacts and then generalize about technology. From my perspective, these researchers also seem to have studied the creation of utilitarian artifacts and generalized to all technology creation.
Given that motivations for use are fundamentally different between these two types of systems, we should question whether motivations and processes for creation are fundamentally different until research answers that question.
Some specifics:

Much of our prior knowledge of information systems (IS) usage is based on utilitarian systems such as personal productivity software and organizational applications. However, new generations of systems, such as online video games (OVGs), have since emerged that aim at enhancing users’ hedonic outcomes like entertainment rather than utilitarian outcomes such as productivity. Prior models of utilitarian system usage provide a limited understanding of one’s usage of hedonic systems, given the motivational differences between using these two types of systems (p. 163).

Prior studies in this area have identified several determinants of IS usage, such as the perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use and self-efficacy of IS usage, and proposed several theoretical models, including the technology acceptance model (TAM), theory of planned behaviour (TPB) and social cognitive theory, to explain how these determinants are related to each other and causally influence information technology (IT) usage (see Venkatesh et al., 2003 for a comprehensive review). Most of these studies view IS as a utilitarian tool for enhancing user productivity, performance, or effectiveness in their personal life or in the workplace p. 163-164).

A new class of interactive hedonic systems has emerged that aims at enhancing users’ hedonic needs such as entertainment, enjoyment and excitement rather than utilitarian needs such as productivity or performance improvement. Examples of such systems include online video games (OVGs), entertainment Web sites, online music downloads and instant messaging (p. 164).

Despite the dramatic growth of hedonic systems in recent years, research focusing on the acceptance and usage of such systems has remained scant. Extant models of utilitarian system usage may not provide an adequate understanding of hedonic system usage, given motivational differences behind using these two system types, leading van der Heijden (2004) to suggest that the nature of IS is an important boundary condition to the validity of current IS usage models. Indeed, traditional systems are not built from the ‘joy angle’, despite users increasingly spending time online and expecting it to be a pleasurable experience (Brody,1992).

I like “joy angle” but my prior work with producers found they refer to a “fun factor.”

This preliminary model of interactive hedonic IT usage can not only serve as a starting point for further research in the emerging area of hedonic systems, but can also help technology vendors (OVG developers) prioritize their development resources to designing games that are better tailored to the needs and preferences of their targeted user base (p. 165).

Specific advice from the authors about how studios need to change their processes to appeal to users. And while the advice was almost certainly unneeded in the industry, it’s still important to state it clearly for researchers in the domain.

Perceived ease of use is also less salient because hedonic systems are considerably less demanding of technical or specialized skills than utilitarian systems such as ERP systems or database systems. […] If perceived usefulness and ease of use, the two most widely studied cognitions related to utilitarian IT usage, are not relevant, which cognitions are salient to explaining interactive hedonic IT usage? Among numerous cognitions examined in prior IT usage research (see Venkatesh et al., 2003), those that are most salient to the current context are perceived enjoyment and social image. Perceived enjoyment can be defined as the excitement and happiness derived from IT use (van der Heijden, 2004). […] Perceived enjoyment should have a stronger effect on user attitudes towards hedonic systems because the expressed intent of such systems is to maximize users’ enjoyment or entertainment from their use (Childers et al., 2001) (p. 167).

Related to my identity research, Carter and Grover (2015) use emotional energy as one of the three dimensions of IT identity. Here, the authors are saying that emotional energy (excitement, happiness) is important in the hedonic use model. Identity concepts surface quickly when researching the cultural industries and hedonic systems.

In Summary

If the preceeding are all accurate depictions of the problems inherent in researching hedonic software as we do other IS, we cannot accept that the production of hedonic software should also follow the prescriptions of existing MIS literature on productivity and utility software.


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