Date: 07 Jul 2009

The Role of Context in Online Gaming Excess and Addiction: Some Case Study Evidence

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Abstract

Research into online gaming addiction is a relatively new area of psychological study. Furthermore, there are studies that have claimed that online gaming addiction may be addictive because of self-report accounts of very excessive use of up to 80 h a week. This study uses data from two case studies to highlight the role of context in distinguishing excessive gaming from addictive gaming. Both of the gamers in this study claimed to be playing for up to 14 h a day yet and although they were behaviorally identical in terms of their game playing, they were very different in terms of psychological motivation and the meaning and experience of gaming within their lives. It is argued that one of the players appears to be genuinely addicted to online gaming but that the other player is not based on context and consequences. The two cases outlined highlight the importance of context in the life of a gamer and demonstrates that excessive gaming does not necessarily mean that a person is addicted. It is argued that online gaming addiction should be characterized by the extent to which excessive gaming impacts negatively on other areas of the gamers’ lives rather than the amount of time spent playing. It is also concluded that an activity cannot be described as an addiction if there are few (or no) negative consequences in the player’s life even if the gamer is playing 14 h a day.