Excited for Eudaimonia? An Emergent Thematic Analysis of Player Expectations of Upcoming Video Games

Nicholas David Bowman, Rowan Daneels, Daniel Possler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Video games are celebrated for their capacity to elicit myriad emotional experiences, from fun and excitement (hedonia) to reflection and contemplation (eudaimonia). Less clear is the extent to which gamers have salient eudaimonic expectations of upcoming games. The current study reports on an emergent thematic analysis of responses from N = 877 fans of five game franchises known to vary in their eudaimonic capacity but in response to yet-to-be-released games within those franchises: Far Cry 6, Final Fantasy XVI, Forza Horizon 5, Mass Effect 5, and Zelda: Breath of theWild 2 (later renamed to Tears of the Kingdom).We identified 15 themes across seven categories: familiarity, aesthetics, relationships, emotions, immersion, game features, and developer notes. Most themes focused on discrete game features, while the few themes aligning with eudaimonia (e.g., “emotions” and “personal meaning”) were mentioned infrequently. Gamers seem more likely to express expectations for specific content over more abstract affective experiences, offering further evidence that eudaimonia is less anticipated and more discovered during gameplay.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Popular Media
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • eudaimonia
  • media entertainment
  • media expectations
  • thematic analysis
  • video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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