This research delves into the profound impact of honor systems and open-world activities on players' mental well-being within the immersive world of Red Dead Redemption II (2018). The study uncovers intricate connections between gameplay choices, playstyles, and psychological needs satisfaction using self-determination theory (SDT), shedding light on the well-being effects for players experiencing phases of low mood. Operationalized measures were employed to assess pre-game self-reported anxiety and depression symptoms, engagement within honor and open-world activities, and post-engagement mental well-being. Data was sourced through an online questionnaire (n = 210) and meticulously analyzed to unveil insights into the engagement and playstyles adopted to alleviate players’ symptoms of anxiety and depression. The study's findings contribute valuable knowledge to the expanding research on video games and their impact on mental health, advocating for game development that harnesses these interactive media’s positive influence on players' well-being.

Degree Date

Spring 2024

Document Type



Elizabeth Storz-Stringer

Second Advisor

Mario Rodriguez



Available for download on Friday, April 25, 2025