Risk Factors for Video or Online Gaming Addiction

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You may think your child, friend, yourself or your spouse spends an excessive amount of time playing video or online games, but hours logged gaming does not alone indicate an addiction.

A gaming addiction brings with it other unhealthy behaviors, such as lying about how much time is spent gaming, and missing school or work to play.

Although anyone can potentially become addicted to video games, researchers are discovering which behaviors and characteristics put an individual at higher risk for developing a gaming addiction. As is true with other types of addictions, having ineffective coping strategies for life’s stressors is generally a factor.

Specific Gaming Addiction Risk Factors

The following gaming addiction risk factors were identified by researchers in the Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri College of Arts and Science.

  1. Those most at risk for a gaming addiction play video games to escape daily life. They play to avoid the realities of their own life or to pretend that they are other people by identifying with their avatars in a fantasy world. This creates a nightmarish vicious cycle. By gaming to avoid problems, more problems are created, and the desire to escape is perpetuated.
  2. Individuals who play games to socialize with other players are prone to addiction. “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,” said researcher Joe Hilgard. For instance, gamers who play as part of a team might feel obligated to play whenever – and for however long – their teammates do. If they do not, they risk being dropped from the team.
  3. Players who are bent on reaching the next game level, collecting game items or rewards are also more at risk for addiction. Some games reward successful players with stronger characters or better equipment, and those gamers that are highly reward-motivated can get hooked.

The Most Addictive Type of Video Game, Possibly

Unless you are a gamer, you might not know there is such a thing as MMORPGs, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. This has been presumed to be the most addictive online game type.

“Our study provides some evidence that supports that claim,” says Hilgard. “[MMORPGs] 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,” Hilgard adds.

As far as time spent playing video games being an addiction factor, the MU research verified what other studies have concluded. There is no perfect correlation between addictive gaming behaviors and total time spent playing the games.

Source: Science Daily

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