In this study, 438 players of the online video game, World of Warcraft, completed a survey about video game addiction and answered an open-ended question about behaviors they considered characteristic of video game addiction. Responses were coded and correlated with players’ self-reports of being addicted to games and scores on a modified video game addiction scale. The behaviors most frequently mentioned as characteristic of addiction included playing a lot and games’ interfering with other activities, especially socializing or work. Few players mentioned such signs of addiction as withdrawal symptoms or tolerance, and some thought it was not possible to become addicted to video games. Self-reported addiction to video games correlated positively with perceptions that video game addiction involved playing a lot or playing to escape problems, and correlated negatively with perceptions that addiction involved games’ interfering with other activities or not being able to stop play. Implications for assessment are discussed.
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Examples of Items Coded into Categories for Definitions of Addiction
Play a lot: With the amount of time I spend playing Warcraft, it is already apparent to myself that I am addicted; Playing way too much; Playing eight hours or more daily
Think about games a lot: All the time thinking about videogames; Thinking about playing video games when you are doing something else; Daydreaming about them
Crave games. Craving a game over anything else; An overwhelming need to play; A constant desire to play
Don’t do anything but play video games: Where I ignore the world outside video games
Only source of happiness: At the point where I couldn’t be happy without playing
Schedule around games: Setting aside time to play games on a regular basis is being addicted; Planning EVERYTHING around your habit, not the other way around
Stay home to play: Generally not leaving one’s room to play games
Blurring of games and reality: A loss of touch with reality
Play for fun or to fill time: I love playing video games, I suppose it’s a bit of an addiction
Emotional escape: I’ll be...addicted when I play video games as a form of escape
Play to socialize: I may be addicted to the new social conditions video games have evolved to provide. I like many of the people I have met online, and I enjoy spending time with them
Can’t stop playing/Relapse: You’re only addicted when you cannot pull yourself away; Unable to stop or quit
Play when don’t want to: I think people who are addicted will play a game even when they don’t feel like playing it that much; If I felt guilty about playing games, I would feel addicted.
Withdrawal symptoms: Moody or irritated when not playing; Anxiety related to inability to play, begin to feel dependent on games
Tolerance: Gradually increase my time spent playing video games on a daily basis
Video game addiction is like a chemical addiction: I’m also addicted to drugs and alcohol, and I’ve found lots of the same behavioral patterns occur
One cannot become addicted to video games: An addiction is only possible when it involves a psychoactive substance; I do not believe that it is possible to be addicted to something that does not physically interact with you
Context: I live in a neighborhood with not much to do; An increase in the amount of time I spend playing video games...would merely be a sign that I have less to do lately
Games interfere with other life activities: When I choose video games over real life events; I would consider myself addicted when I sacrificed time with friends to play video games; Skipping work for games; Neglecting school just to play video games
Moody: Yelling at people for bugging me while playing video games
Lying about playing: Sometimes I lie to people saying I’m not presently playing when they ask, when I actually am
Loss of interests: Loss of interests in what I used to like
Play despite known consequences and adverse effects: When you start experiencing consequences as a direct result of playing games, and still choosing to play games.
Awareness of addiction: I know I have an addiction; Being self-aware of my addiction
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Oggins, J., Sammis, J. Notions of Video Game Addiction and Their Relation to Self-Reported Addiction Among Players of World of Warcraft. Int J Ment Health Addiction 10, 210–230 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-010-9309-y
- Video game
- Problematic video game use
- World of Warcraft