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Abstract

Aim

The study explores IGD withdrawal-related presentations, including autonomic reaction, affective symptoms, anhedonia, and gaming urge during abstinence from gaming. We prospectively evaluated these withdrawal-related symptoms (WRS) and gaming craving during abstinence from gaming.

Methods

We examined 69 individuals with IGD and 69 regular gamers and evaluated their WRS (using an exploratory questionnaire), affective and behavioral WRS (using the Questionnaire on Gaming Urge-Brief Version gaming disorder questionnaire), and heart rate. All the participants attempted to abstain from gaming before our assessment. Subsequently, some participants’ WRS and gaming craving before they engaged in gaming were prospectively evaluated.

Results

In the IGD group, 85.5% experienced gaming WRS, including affective, anhedonia, and gaming urge symptoms. They could relieve these symptoms through gaming. The IGD group experienced more severe gaming WRS, gaming craving, and a higher heart rate than the regular gamer group. Gaming urge was most associated WRS of IGD. Participants with IGD experienced more severe gaming cravings when their gaming abstinence before the assessment was shorter. WRS attenuated at night and the following morning when they maintained their gaming abstinence after assessment.

Conclusion

Individuals with IGD experience withdrawal-related affective, anhedonia, and gaming urge symptoms and a higher heart rate during abstinence. The WRS attenuated in 1 day. Most participants agreed that these symptoms could be relieved through gaming. Further prospective evaluation by objective assessment in an adequate sample was required to understand gaming withdrawal symptoms comprehensively.

Open access