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Authors: Jesús Castro-Calvo, Rafael Ballester-Arnal, Marc N. Potenza, Daniel L. King and Joël Billieux

In April 2018, the servers of the popular video game “Fortnite” crashed for 24 hr. During this period, Pornhub (a popular pornographic website) analyzed trends in pornography access, finding that: (a) the percentage of gamers accessing Pornhub increased by 10% and (b) the searches of pornographic videos using the key term “Fortnite” increased by 60%. In this letter, we discuss these observations in the context of ongoing debate regarding the validity of “withdrawal” when applied to problematic involvement in video gaming and the potential use of pornography as a “compensation behavior” during the periods of “forced abstinence” from gaming.

Open access
Authors: Aline Wéry, Kim Vogelaere, Gaëlle Challet-Bouju, François-Xavier Poudat, Julie Caillon, Delphine Lever, Joël Billieux and Marie Grall-Bronnec

Background and aims

Research on sexual addiction flourished during the last decade, promoted by the development of an increased number of online sexual activities. Despite the accumulation of studies, however, evidence collected in clinical samples of treatment-seeking people remains scarce. The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics (socio-demographics, sexual habits, and comorbidities) of self-identified “sexual addicts.”

Methods

The sample was composed of 72 patients who consulted an outpatient treatment center regarding their sexual behaviors. Data were collected through a combination of structured interviewing and self-report measures.

Results

Most patients were males (94.4%) aged 20–76 years (mean 40.3 ± 10.9). Endorsement of sexual addiction diagnosis varied from 56.9% to 95.8% depending on the criteria used. The sexual behaviors reported to have the highest degree of functional impairment were having multiple sexual partners (56%), having unprotected sexual intercourse (51.9%), and using cybersex (43.6%). Ninety percent of patients endorsed a comorbid psychiatric diagnosis, and 60.6% presented at least one paraphilia.

Conclusions

Results showed highly different profiles in terms of sexual preferences and behaviors, as well as comorbidities involved. These findings highlight the need to develop tailored psychotherapeutic interventions by taking into account the complexity and heterogeneity of the disorder.

Open access
Authors: Filip Nuyens, Jory Deleuze, Pierre Maurage, Mark D. Griffiths, Daria J. Kuss and Joël Billieux

Background and aims

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games have become the most popular type of video games played worldwide, superseding the playing of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games and First-Person Shooter games. However, empirical studies focusing on the use and abuse of MOBA games are still very limited, particularly regarding impulsivity, which is an indicator of addictive states but has not yet been explored in MOBA games. In this context, the objective of the present study is to explore the associations between impulsivity and symptoms of addictive use of MOBA games in a sample of highly involved League of Legends (LoL, currently the most popular MOBA game) gamers.

Methods

Thirty-six LoL gamers were recruited and completed both experimental (Single Key Impulsivity Paradigm) and self-reported impulsivity assessments (s-UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale), in addition to an assessment of problematic video game use (Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire).

Results

Results showed links between impulsivity-related constructs and signs of excessive MOBA game involvement. Findings indicated that impaired ability to postpone rewards in an experimental laboratory task was strongly related to problematic patterns of MOBA game involvement. Although less consistent, several associations were also found between self-reported impulsivity traits and signs of excessive MOBA game involvement.

Conclusions

Despite these results are preliminary and based upon a small (self-selected) sample, the present study highlights potential psychological factors related to the addictive use of MOBA games.

Open access
Authors: Gabriel Thorens, Sophia Achab, Joël Billieux, Yasser Khazaal, Riaz Khan, Edward Pivin, Vishal Gupta and Daniel Zullino

Abstract

Aims

Controversies remain about the validity of the diagnosis of problematic Internet use. This might be due in part to the lack of longitudinal naturalistic studies that have followed a cohort of patients who self-identify as having Internet-related problems.

Methods

This retrospective study included 57 patients who consulted the Geneva Addiction Outpatient Clinic from January 1, 2007, to January 1, 2010. Patients underwent an initial clinical psychiatric evaluation that included collection of data on socio-demographics, method of referral, specific Internet usage, psychiatric diagnosis, and Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and Clinical Global Impression Scale (CGI) scores. Treatment consisted of individual psychotherapeutic sessions.

Results

Of these patients, 98% were male and 37% were 18 years or younger. Most patients were online gamers (46% playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games). The mean IAT score was 52.9 (range 20–90). Sixty-eight percent of patients had a co-morbid psychiatric diagnosis, with social phobia being the most prevalent (17.8%). Patients who remained in treatment (dropout rate 24%) showed an overall improvement of symptoms: 38.6% showed significant or average improvement on their CGI score, 26.3% showed minimal improvement, and 14% showed no change.

Conclusions

Our results support the hypothesis that there are specific types of Internet use, with online gaming mainly affecting young male patients. As Internet addiction is not yet an official diagnosis, better instruments are needed to screen patients and to avoid false-negative and false-positive diagnoses. Successful care should integrate the treatment of co-morbid symptoms and involve families and relatives in the therapeutic process.

Open access

Functional impairment matters in the screening and diagnosis of gaming disorder

Commentary on: Scholars’ open debate paper on the World Health Organization ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal (Aarseth et al.)

Authors: Joël Billieux, Daniel L. King, Susumu Higuchi, Sophia Achab, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Wei Hao, Jiang Long, Hae Kook Lee, Marc N. Potenza, John B. Saunders and Vladimir Poznyak

This commentary responds to Aarseth et al.’s (in press) criticisms that the ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal would result in “moral panics around the harm of video gaming” and “the treatment of abundant false-positive cases.” The ICD-11 Gaming Disorder avoids potential “overpathologizing” with its explicit reference to functional impairment caused by gaming and therefore improves upon a number of flawed previous approaches to identifying cases with suspected gaming-related harms. We contend that moral panics are more likely to occur and be exacerbated by misinformation and lack of understanding, rather than proceed from having a clear diagnostic system.

Open access
Authors: Olatz Lopez-Fernandez, Daria J. Kuss, Lucia Romo, Yannick Morvan, Laurence Kern, Pierluigi Graziani, Amélie Rousseau, Hans-Jürgen Rumpf, Anja Bischof, Ann-Kathrin Gässler, Adriano Schimmenti, Alessia Passanisi, Niko Männikkö, Maria Kääriänen, Zsolt Demetrovics, Orsolya Király, Mariano Chóliz, Juan José Zacarés, Emilia Serra, Mark D. Griffiths, Halley M. Pontes, Bernadeta Lelonek-Kuleta, Joanna Chwaszcz, Daniele Zullino, Lucien Rochat, Sophia Achab and Joël Billieux

Background and aims

Despite many positive benefits, mobile phone use can be associated with harmful and detrimental behaviors. The aim of this study was twofold: to examine (a) cross-cultural patterns of perceived dependence on mobile phones in ten European countries, first, grouped in four different regions (North: Finland and UK; South: Spain and Italy; East: Hungary and Poland; West: France, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland), and second by country, and (b) how socio-demographics, geographic differences, mobile phone usage patterns, and associated activities predicted this perceived dependence.

Methods

A sample of 2,775 young adults (aged 18–29 years) were recruited in different European Universities who participated in an online survey. Measures included socio-demographic variables, patterns of mobile phone use, and the dependence subscale of a short version of the Problematic Mobile Phone Use Questionnaire (PMPUQ; Billieux, Van der Linden, & Rochat, 2008).

Results

The young adults from the Northern and Southern regions reported the heaviest use of mobile phones, whereas perceived dependence was less prevalent in the Eastern region. However, the proportion of highly dependent mobile phone users was more elevated in Belgium, UK, and France. Regression analysis identified several risk factors for increased scores on the PMPUQ dependence subscale, namely using mobile phones daily, being female, engaging in social networking, playing video games, shopping and viewing TV shows through the Internet, chatting and messaging, and using mobile phones for downloading-related activities.

Discussion and conclusions

Self-reported dependence on mobile phone use is influenced by frequency and specific application usage.

Open access
Authors: Matthias Brand, Hans-JÜrgen Rumpf, Zsolt Demetrovics, Astrid MÜller, Rudolf Stark, Daniel L. King, Anna E. Goudriaan, Karl Mann, Patrick Trotzke, Naomi A. Fineberg, Samuel R. Chamberlain, Shane W. Kraus, Elisa Wegmann, JoËl Billieux and Marc N. Potenza

Abstract

Background

Gambling and gaming disorders have been included as “disorders due to addictive behaviors” in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). Other problematic behaviors may be considered as “other specified disorders due to addictive behaviors (6C5Y).”

Methods

Narrative review, experts' opinions.

Results

We suggest the following meta-level criteria for considering potential addictive behaviors as fulfilling the category of “other specified disorders due to addictive behaviors”:

1. Clinical relevance: Empirical evidence from multiple scientific studies demonstrates that the specific potential addictive behavior is clinically relevant and individuals experience negative consequences and functional impairments in daily life due to the problematic and potentially addictive behavior.

2. Theoretical embedding: Current theories and theoretical models belonging to the field of research on addictive behaviors describe and explain most appropriately the candidate phenomenon of a potential addictive behavior.

3. Empirical evidence: Data based on self-reports, clinical interviews, surveys, behavioral experiments, and, if available, biological investigations (neural, physiological, genetic) suggest that psychological (and neurobiological) mechanisms involved in other addictive behaviors are also valid for the candidate phenomenon. Varying degrees of support for problematic forms of pornography use, buying and shopping, and use of social networks are available. These conditions may fit the category of “other specified disorders due to addictive behaviors”.

Conclusion

It is important not to over-pathologize everyday-life behavior while concurrently not trivializing conditions that are of clinical importance and that deserve public health considerations. The proposed meta-level-criteria may help guide both research efforts and clinical practice.

Open access

Including gaming disorder in the ICD-11: The need to do so from a clinical and public health perspective

Commentary on: A weak scientific basis for gaming disorder: Let us err on the side of caution (van Rooij et al., 2018)

Authors: Hans-Jürgen Rumpf, Sophia Achab, Joël Billieux, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Natacha Carragher, Zsolt Demetrovics, Susumu Higuchi, Daniel L. King, Karl Mann, Marc Potenza, John B. Saunders, Max Abbott, Atul Ambekar, Osman Tolga Aricak, Sawitri Assanangkornchai, Norharlina Bahar, Guilherme Borges, Matthias Brand, Elda Mei-Lo Chan, Thomas Chung, Jeff Derevensky, Ahmad El Kashef, Michael Farrell, Naomi A. Fineberg, Claudia Gandin, Douglas A. Gentile, Mark D. Griffiths, Anna E. Goudriaan, Marie Grall-Bronnec, Wei Hao, David C. Hodgins, Patrick Ip, Orsolya Király, Hae Kook Lee, Daria Kuss, Jeroen S. Lemmens, Jiang Long, Olatz Lopez-Fernandez, Satoko Mihara, Nancy M. Petry, Halley M. Pontes, Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar, Florian Rehbein, Jürgen Rehm, Emanuele Scafato, Manoi Sharma, Daniel Spritzer, Dan J. Stein, Philip Tam, Aviv Weinstein, Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, Klaus Wölfling, Daniele Zullino and Vladimir Poznyak

The proposed introduction of gaming disorder (GD) in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) has led to a lively debate over the past year. Besides the broad support for the decision in the academic press, a recent publication by van Rooij et al. (2018) repeated the criticism raised against the inclusion of GD in ICD-11 by Aarseth et al. (2017). We argue that this group of researchers fails to recognize the clinical and public health considerations, which support the WHO perspective. It is important to recognize a range of biases that may influence this debate; in particular, the gaming industry may wish to diminish its responsibility by claiming that GD is not a public health problem, a position which maybe supported by arguments from scholars based in media psychology, computer games research, communication science, and related disciplines. However, just as with any other disease or disorder in the ICD-11, the decision whether or not to include GD is based on clinical evidence and public health needs. Therefore, we reiterate our conclusion that including GD reflects the essence of the ICD and will facilitate treatment and prevention for those who need it.

Open access