The Basic Needs in Games Scale (BANGS): A New Tool for Investigating Positive and Negative Video Game Experiences


Players’ basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are among the most commonly used constructs used in research on what makes video games so engaging, and how they might support or undermine user wellbeing. However, existing measures of basic psychological needs in games have important limitations—they either do not measure need frustration, or measure it in a way that may not be appropriate for the video games domain, they struggle to capture feelings of relatedness in both single- and multiplayer contexts, and they often lack validity evidence for certain contexts (e.g., playtesting vs experience with games as a whole). In this paper, we report on the design and validation of a new measure, the Basic Needs in Games Scale (BANGS), whose 6 subscales cover satisfaction and frustration of each basic psychological need in gaming contexts. The scale was validated and evaluated over five studies with a total of 1246 unique participants. Results supported the theorized structure of the scale and provided evidence for discriminant, convergent and criterion validity. Results also show that the scale performs well over different contexts (including evaluating experiences in a single game session or across various sessions) and over time, supporting measurement invariance. Together, the BANGS is a reliable and theoretically sound tool for researchers to measure basic needs satisfaction and frustration with a degree of domain validity not previously available.