Since online gaming, as a global phenomenon, has become extremely popular among adolescents and young adults over recent years, it has become clear that these particular groups are fascinated by the concept and gain a great deal of satisfaction from engaging in these games. Through a variety of role-play scenarios, these groups can realize daring accomplishments that they could never hope to achieve in the real world and can, in some ways, significantly raise their self-esteem.
Research into online gaming consumer behavior has received considerable attention over recent years, particularly with regard to adolescents and young adults, with prior studies having discussed various aspects of consumer behavior, including innovativeness (Rogers, 1995), impulse buying (Rook & Fisher, 1995), and information search (Srinivasan & Ratchford, 1991). Nevertheless, few studies have focused on examination of the dimensions of experiential value and lifestyles, in terms of their impact on satisfaction.
Following the initial concept of the value of experience to consumers--as proposed by Holbrook (1994)--Woodruff (1997) proposed a theoretical hierarchical model of experiential value. Although experiential value, and its impact on satisfaction, has been empirically studied and verified with regard to experiences with Internet shopping (Hoffman & Novak, 1996; Mathwick et al., 2001; Lee & Overby, 2004), it has seldom been applied to consumer behavior with regard to online gaming.
The constructs of experiential value, such as aesthetics, entertainment, visual appeal, escapism, interaction, service excellence, and consumers' return on investment, have all been identified as important factors in Internet shopping behavior. Since the Internet shopping environment is similar to that of online gaming, it may well be that similar causal relationships exist between experiential value and satisfaction with regard to online gaming.
Since first being introduced by Lazer in 1963, the measurement of lifestyle patterns of consumer behavior has been refined. Although it was Wells and Tiggert (1971) who first developed the activities, interests, and opinions (AIO) rating statements for lifestyles, Mitchell (1981) subsequently introduced the concept of values and lifestyles (VALS) ratings, arguing that the VALS rating was far superior, because it integrated the concepts of both AIO and values. The VALS rating approach measures the attitudes, beliefs, opinions, hopes, fears, bias, needs, and expectations of consumers, which clearly relates the concept, in many respects, to consumer psychology. We therefore feel that it may be of interest and importance to determine the ways in which lifestyles, under the VALS rating system, can reflect the level of satisfaction with regard to the behavior of online game consumers. This study therefore investigated the causal relationships between the factors influencing experiential value and lifestyles, and their ultimate impact upon satisfaction.
Consumers of online games have various websites available to them for entertainment and fun, with a number of the prior studies on Internet services and online shopping having already focused on the value of the experiences of such Internet and website usage. The dimensions of experiential value gained from Internet shopping were categorized by Mathwick et al. (2001) as aesthetics, playfulness, service excellence, and consumer's return on investment. Hoffman and Novak (1996) and Lee and Overby (2004) further argued that experiential value was determined by the overall benefits gained from the experience of online shopping, or from sources of entertainment, including escapism, visual appeal, interactivity, and social stimulation; in specific terms, the physical attributes of online games, particularly their aesthetic appearance, are crucial to their success, since …