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Risk Factors for Adult Video-Game Addiction

Risk Factors for Adult Video-Game Addiction Emerging research suggests individual motives often contribute to unhealthy game play with the biggest risk factor occurring when individuals play games to escape from daily life.

University of Missouri investigators determined escapism, social interaction and rewards fuel problematic video-game use among “very casual” to “hardcore” adult gamers.

“Individuals who play games to get away from their lives or to pretend to be other people seem to be those most at-risk for becoming part of a vicious cycle. These gamers avoid their problems by playing games, which in turn interferes with their lives because they’re so busy playing games, ” said Joe Hilgard, a doctoral candidate.

The research is published in the open-access journal, Frontiers in Psychology.

Experts content that problematic video game use is more than just excessive use of video games; it also includes a variety of unhealthy behaviors, such as lying to others about how much time is spent playing games and missing work or other obligations to play games.

“People who play games to socialize with other players seem to have more problems as well,” Hilgard said.

“It could be that games are imposing a sort of social obligation on these individuals so that they have to set aside time to play with other players. For example, in games like World of Warcraft, most players join teams or guilds. If some teammates want to play for four hours on a Saturday night, the other players feel obligated to play or else they may be cut from the team. Those play obligations can mess with individuals’ real-life obligations.”

Problematic video game use isn’t all that different from other types of addictive behavior, such as alcohol or drug abuse, which can be spurred by poor coping strategies, Hilgard said.

“Gamers who are really into getting to the next level or collecting all of the in-game items seem to have unhealthier video-game use,” Hilgard said.

“When people talk about games being ‘so addictive,’ usually they’re referring to games like Farmville or Diablo that give players rewards, such as better equipment or stronger characters, as they play. People who are especially motivated by these rewards can find it hard to stop playing.”

Understanding individuals’ motives for playing video games can inform researchers, game developers and consumers about why certain games attract certain individuals, Hilgard said.

“Researchers have suspected that Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) are the most addictive genre of video games,” Hilgard said.

“Our study provides some evidence that supports that claim. The games provide opportunities for players to advance levels, to join teams and to play with others. In addition, the games provide enormous fantasy worlds that gamers can disappear into for hours at a time and forget about their problems. MMORPGs may be triple threats for encouraging pathological game use because they present all three risk factors to gamers.”

“Consistent with previous research, we did not find a perfect relationship between total time spent playing games and addictive video game behaviors,” said study co-author Christopher Engelhardt, Ph.D.

“Additionally, other variables, such as the proportion of free time spent playing video games, seem to better predict game addiction above and beyond the total amount of time spent playing video games.”

Source: University of Missouri

Man playing an online game photo by shutterstock.

Risk Factors for Adult Video-Game Addiction

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Risk Factors for Adult Video-Game Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/09/24/risk-factors-for-adult-video-game-addiction/59855.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.