A Qualitative Analysis of Online Gaming Addicts in Treatment

  • Marta Beranuy
  • Xavier CarbonellEmail author
  • Mark D. Griffiths


Online gaming addiction is a relatively under-researched area and there have been few studies examining online gamers in treatment. This paper reports the findings from a qualitative interview study of nine players undergoing treatment for their addictive playing of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). A face-to-face interview study with nine online gaming addicts was carried out using Grounded Theory. The six most reported phenomena by the participants were: (i) entertainment search, (ii) virtual friendship, (iii) escapism and/or dissociation, (iv) game context, (v) control versus no control, and (vi) conflict. The findings suggest that players’ initial gaming motivation is because of three factors: (i) entertainment, (ii) escapism, and/or (iii) virtual friendship. MMORPG addiction appears once the playing time significantly increases, coupled with a loss of control and a narrow behavior focus. These factors lead to problems and result in psychological dependence and serious life conflicts. The consequences of MMORPG addiction are similar to the consequences of more established substance addictions including salience, mood modification, loss of control, craving, and serious adverse effects. Additionally, in some cases, tolerance and relapse may also be present.


Qualitative study Internet addiction Gaming addiction Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games MMORPG addiction Gaming addiction treatment 



We thank Josep Cañete and Àngels González (Hospital of Mataró, Spain), Rosa Díaz (Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, Spain), Susanna Petri and Núria Aragay (Hospital of Terrassa, Spain) and Felix Cova and Maruzella Valdivia (Clínica de Atención Psicológica of University of Concepción, Chile).


Part of this study was carried out thanks to grant no. AP2005-2426 (Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Spanish Government) and FPCCE Blanquerna grant no. CER05/08-105C06.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Beranuy
    • 1
  • Xavier Carbonell
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Mark D. Griffiths
    • 2
  1. 1.Faculty of Psychology, Education and Sport SciencesUniversitat Ramon LlullBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Social SciencesNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Facultat de Psicologia, Ciències de l’Educació i de l’Esport BlanquernaBarcelonaSpain

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