The Contribution of Game Genre and Other Use Patterns to Problem Video Game Play among Adult Video Gamers

  • Luther Elliott
  • Geoffrey Ream
  • Elizabeth McGinsky
  • Eloise Dunlap


A nationally representative online survey (n = 3,380) was used to assess the contribution of patterns of video game play to problem video game play (PVGP) symptomatology. Game genre, enjoyment, consumer involvement, time spent gaming (gaming days in the past month and hours on days used), and demographic variables were all examined. The study confirms game genre’s contribution to problem use as well as demographic variation in play patterns that underlie problem video game play vulnerability. Identification of a small group of game types positively correlated with problem use suggests new directions for research into the specific design elements and reward mechanics of “addictive” video games. Unique vulnerabilities to problem use among certain groups demonstrate the need for ongoing investigation of health disparities related to contextual dimensions of video game play.


Video games Problem video game play Game play patterns Genre Game mechanics 



These analyses were supported by grant R01-DA027761, “Video Games’ Role in Developing Substance Use,” from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of National Development and Research Institutes, Adelphi University, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, or the National Institutes of Health.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest to report. No author or employee of this project has ever been employed by the video games industry or anything of that nature.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luther Elliott
    • 1
  • Geoffrey Ream
    • 2
  • Elizabeth McGinsky
    • 3
  • Eloise Dunlap
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Special Populations Research, National Development and Research InstitutesNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.School of Social WorkAdelphi UniversityGarden CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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