Drawing goals nearer: Using the goal-gradient perspective to increase online game usage

Ching I. Teng, Wen Lung Shiau, T. C.E. Cheng, Hsin Yi Huang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Online games attract a huge number of players, sparking intense competition among game developers, who must identify how they can retain players. While basic game design includes challenges, players may feel that highly challenging in-game goals are distant and even unattainable, reducing their gameplay momentum. Thus, game developers face a dilemma between designing goals that seem unattainable or goals deemed too easy and thus not challenging enough, which our study addresses. To achieve this, we identified two new triggers derived from social cognitive theory (SCT) that could trigger the motivational process of goal gradient theory (GGT)—expectancy for character growth and gaming self-efficacy. Survey data from 1724 online game players were gathered and used to verify the model. Our study uniquely shows that expectancy for character growth can trigger motivation to attain gaming goals and that gaming self-efficacy can increase perceived gaming goal proximity and motivation to attain gaming goals and, thus, further sustain game usage. Collectively, this study helps resolve game developers’ aforementioned dilemma by recommending that they include challenging in-game goals and persuade players that they can achieve such goals immediately (i.e., gaming self-efficacy) or in the near future (i.e., expectancy for character growth), thus increasing perceived goal proximity or making goals seem closer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102522
JournalInternational Journal of Information Management
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Game usage
  • Goal gradient theory
  • Goal proximity
  • Online game
  • Structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Marketing
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Artificial Intelligence


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