According to a report published in International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, University of Minnesota researchers have found that 'simulation of real life' is a primary motive for sports video game players.
The University of Minnesota research was attempting to find and identified seven different motives for why gamers game. The motives, listed in order of importance were: identification with sport and knowledge application, entertainment, fantasy, competition, social interaction, and diversion.
Looking specifically at players of sports games, the research team found that knowledge application, fantasy, and identification with sport were motivations unique to sports gamers, something they found had not previously been recorded by earlier research on media consumption motives.
Said research team leader Yongjae Kim, "[Sports video game] players want to simulate a real life sport game in a virtual environment, comparing the decisions they made while playing [sports games] against the decisions of the player or manager in real life.”
These findings, Kim contends, are specific to sports games, saying, "non-sport video games are based on cartoon, fantasy, or fictions, so the motivations for playing are very different.”
Kim contends that the research should help developers, as well as marketers, who want to capitalize on these motivations, saying, "The results suggest that in an electronic environment sport fans can develop an emotional bond with a sport team or athlete by closely identifying with the cyber athlete on the video screen. In the media-saturated climate of the modern age, marketers of both consumer brands and sports are finding it increasing difficult to access young people in particular."
He added, "[Sports games] have the potential to reach sport fans and to attract new fans and younger generations into particular sports via interactive games. Consumer brands also stand to benefit through inclusion in the game environment which is free from competitor activity and taps into the strong emotional attachment players have to the game.”