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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


It is interesting that the article does not refer to other disorders that are generally not considered an "addiction", such as excessive/problem gambling. I believe there is some overlap in the underlying mechanisms both of gambling "for money" (even though gamblers would often say they gamble for pleasure) and playing interactive online games.

Some of the commonalities may be rooted in structural characteristics of those games; a high frequency of "rewards", some degree of competition, immersiveness, flow and the prospect of gaining "expertise", and (often) the opportunity to socialise with other people (not necessarily in person, like via the chat function in online poker), and the use of visual effects (e.g. slot machine effects vs. video games).

I'd be interested if anybody has studied/is studying in a more systematic way the commonalities and differences between "addiction" to video games per se, MMORPGs and online vs. casino gambling.

I'm honestly surprised that none of Nick Yee's extensive work into MMO "addiction" was cited. There is a lot of research that has been done into the attraction factors and motivation factors. (see http://www.nickyee.com/ for links to most of his research including the Daedalus Project and the PARC Playon).

Certainly gaming has been used as an escape mechanism. People play these games to get away from stressors. Unfortunately, sometimes gaming can lead to additional stressors and it becomes problematic. Research has suggested that problematic gaming is co-morbid for d/o like social anxiety and depression. There is the potential for individuals with OCD to also find gaming attractive, especially with newer features such as achievements that push a player to continue utilizing the game. (You can even find achievements for Angry Birds and Facebook games).

I do want to note that WoW is not the only MMO on the market, it's just the most successful. Future research should look at multiplayer real time strategy games such as Starcraft, Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas such as League of Legends, and upcoming single player games like Diablo III. This should be in addition to World of Warcraft and Rift.

Problematic gaming is not restricted to MMO's.

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