The Basic Needs in Games Scale (BANGS): A new tool for investigating positive and negative video game experiences

Nicholas Ballou*, Alena Denisova, Richard Ryan, C. Scott Rigby, Christoph Sebastian Deterding

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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. Further improvements to the scale are warranted, as results indicated lower reliability in the autonomy frustration subscale, and a surprising non-significant correlation between relatedness satisfaction and frustration. Despite these minor limitations, 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103289
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Early online date8 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2024


  • Video games
  • Player Experience
  • Need satisfaction
  • Need frustration
  • Self-determination theory

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