The Scientific Reason for Your RPG Obsession


You spend a disproportionate amount of your downtime completing quests on WOW, tending to your vault in Fallout Shelter, and capturing tiles in Windward.


If you’re driven to create order out of chaos, are “attracted to clear, well-defined goals, and motivated to attain them”, it may suggest that there’s some disorder in your immediate surroundings, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.


In one test, ninety participants were recruited online. They actually saw one of three websites, each with different background images. One background consisted of pictures of disordered store environments, another featured ordered store environments, and the last was a neutral control background. All the backgrounds were slightly greyed out, the images were never referred to, and “the concepts of order and disorder were never explicitly brought to participants’ attention.”

The participants were given a simulation of a rewards program, wherein they’d collected half the points needed for their gift of choice from the rewards program catalogue. They had to indicate how motivated they were to get the needed points for their goal, and they had to respond to statements such as “I find that establishing a consistent routine enables me to enjoy life more.”


People who had seen the messy background were more motivated to win the game.

The Takeaway

According to researchers, “a perceived threat to order and structure prompts responses aimed at regaining a sense of order by converting a fuzzy world into a more understandable and predictable one.”

They go on to say, “Goals and goal pursuit provide a sense of order because they specify concrete agents, means and ends—the building blocks of a perception of order and structure.”



This is a test