This paper proposes that future research into electronic gaming machines (EGMs) is likely to benefit from conceptual and methodological approaches that capture the dynamic interplay between game parameters as well between the psychological needs of gamblers and their behavior.
The argument concerning the importance of player dynamics is developed in two sections. The first involves an analysis of existing work, which investigates individual gaming machine features and then a discussion; the second reappraises the value of Apter’s (1982) Reversal Theory as a framework for understanding behavioral dynamics and the interplay between gambler’s need states and their play choices.
It is argued that existing methods based on the modification of single features are going to be limited and that differences in observed behavior may relate to measurable differences in motivational states before and during gambling sessions.
Discussion and conclusions
It is concluded that a more dynamic and interactive approach to studying EGMs could be facilitated by innovations in Big Data and greater access to genuine player data. It is argued that such work may help to inform in situ research methods as well as clinical interventions for gamblers at risk or those already involved in interventions involving exposure and controlled gambling.
Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is a proposed condition that refers to persistent gaming leading to clinically significant impairment. However, there have been few attempts to study the different types and degrees of harm caused by IGD. This commentary describes some of the negative intrapersonal and interpersonal effects of an extreme time investment in gaming activities in the context of IGD. Future research should examine the way in which IGD harms may occur at different levels and degrees. This may enhance the screening of individuals whose behavior is suspected to meet the definition of the proposed IGD criteria.
Stay-at-home mandates and quarantines related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have led to greatly increased participation in online gaming. Initiatives such as #PlayApartTogether that promote gaming for socializing and stress reduction may achieve positive outcomes. Although gaming can be a healthy coping strategy for the majority, it can also pose risks to some vulnerable individuals. Protracted periods of social isolation and technology-based activity pose the danger of solidifying unhealthy lifestyle patterns, leading to difficulties to readaptation when the COVID-19 crisis has passed. Balanced and effective approaches to gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic are needed to support physical and psychological wellbeing.
Previous studies have reported that stronger avatar identification and negative self-concept are associated with gaming disorder (GD). This study aimed to examine the value and significance of avatars based on firsthand accounts from regular and problematic gamers, and to identify any potential links between avatar-related experiences and excessive gaming.
An online survey of 993 adult gamers yielded 3,972 text responses. Qualitative analysis of 59,059 words extracted 10 categories of avatar-related perspectives.
Some problem and non-problem gamers employed sentimental language (e.g., ‘dear friend’, ‘like a child’, ‘part of my soul’) to refer to their avatar. However, most participants perceived avatars as a means of achieving in-game goals and enabling greater interactivity (e.g., socializing). When asked to reflect on hypothetically losing their avatar, participants generally anticipated feeling temporary frustration or annoyance due to lost time and effort invested into the avatar. Although some participants reported that their avatar ‘mattered’, avatars were often considered as superficial (‘just pixels’) and peripheral to the primary reinforcement of achieving in-game rewards and objectives. Some broader psychological and identity issues such as gender dysphoria, rather than ‘addiction’, were cited as motivating persistent avatar-related interactions and attachment.
Discussion and conclusions
Participants reported diverse views on the psychological value and function of avatars, but the relationship between avatars and problematic gaming or GD was largely unclear or inconsistent, and refuted by some participants. Future research with clinical samples may lead to a better understanding of player-avatar processes, including whether avatar-stimuli facilitate the development of maladaptive gaming habits, particularly among psychologically vulnerable players. Future investigations should be mindful of ‘overpathologizing’ avatar-related phenomena and recognize their important role in socializing, storytelling, and creative expression among gamers.
Loyalty programs are implemented widely by gambling operators to provide customers with additional prizes and benefits for consistent patronage. The aim of this paper was to examine whether loyalty programs were more commonly reported by higher risk gamblers in large population studies conducted in Australia.
This paper examines the prevalence of loyalty program use and the association with problem gambling in Australia using data from seven out of 13 public gambling prevalence surveys conducted over the last decade.
Evidence drawn from six of these seven studies showed consistent positive association between loyalty card use and higher risk gambling in venue-based gamblers. At least 40% of problem gamblers reported loyalty card use compared with only around 10% of gamblers in general.
These observations suggest that there is a need to conduct more focused investigations on the utilisation of loyalty programs by higher risk gamblers.
It will be important to examine whether loyalty programs encourage or extend gambling sessions, but also how they can be used to facilitate responsible gambling initiatives and inform further behavioural research.
Familial influences are known to affect the likelihood of an adolescent becoming a problem gamer. This systematic review examined some of the key findings in empirical research on family factors related to adolescent problem gaming.
A total of 14 studies in the past decade were evaluated. Family-related variables included: (a) parent status (e.g., socioeconomic status and mental health), (b) parent–child relationship (e.g., warmth, conflict, and abuse), (c) parental influence on gaming (e.g., supervision of gaming, modeling, and attitudes toward gaming), and (d) family environment (e.g., household composition).
The majority of studies have focused on parent–child relationships, reporting that poorer quality relationships are associated with increased severity of problem gaming. The paternal relationship may be protective against problem gaming; therefore, prevention programs should leverage the support of cooperative fathers.
The intergenerational effects of problem gaming require further attention, in light of adult gamers raising their children in a gaming-centric environment. Research has been limited by a reliance on adolescent self-report to understand family dynamics, without gathering corroborating information from parents and other family members. The very high rates of problem gaming (>10%) reported in general population samples raise concerns about the validity of current screening tools.
Interventions for adolescents may be more effective in some cases if they can address familial influences on problem gaming with the active co-participation of parents, rather than enrolling vulnerable adolescents in individual-based training or temporarily isolating adolescents from the family system.
The criterion of tolerance in DSM-5 Internet gaming disorder (IGD) refers to a need for increasing time spent gaming. However, this focus on “need for gaming time” may overlook some of the broader motivations, outcomes, or effects of gaming that underlie excessive play. This study aimed to explore regular and problematic gamers’ experiences and perceptions of tolerance in IGD.
An online survey of 630 adult gamers yielded 1,417 text responses to open-ended questions. A thematic analysis of 23,373 words was conducted to extract dominant themes.
Participants reported that they increasingly desired game items, status, or story progress as they became more involved or invested in games. As players develop higher standards of play in games, an increasing number of potential reward outcomes may have diminishing mood-modifying effects. None of the participants, including those with self-reported IGD, explicitly referred to a need for increasing time spent gaming.
Discussion and conclusions
These results suggest that players may be motivated by preferences for specific goals or reinforcers in games rather than wanting an amount of time spent gaming. Thus, problematic gaming may involve a need for completion of increasingly intricate, time-consuming, or difficult goals to achieve satisfaction and/or reduce fears of missing out. Further research is needed to determine whether these cognitive and motivational factors related to gaming stimuli should extend or replace the concept of tolerance in IGD or be considered as separate but related processes in disordered gaming.
Critics of gaming disorder (GD; i.e., Internet gaming disorder in the DSM-5; Gaming disorder in the ICD-11) have expressed concerns about the potential risks of misclassification (e.g., false positives). An important consideration of relevance to this discussion is the extent to which commonly used screening instruments contain appropriate, sensible, and relevant items. The aim of this review was to evaluate the face validity of items within current tools for GD.
A systematic review of databases identified 29 instruments. An item bank (n = 417 items) was independently evaluated by three professional raters (i.e., a senior academic in clinical psychology, a senior psychometrician, and an academic/clinical psychologist) according to guidelines for defining and measuring addiction and gaming disorder.
Evaluation of the item bank identified issues related to: scope (i.e., “scope creep” or items of questionable relevance); language (i.e., confusing language, unusual wording or syntax); and overpathologizing (i.e., pathologizing typical and/or beneficial aspects or consequences of gaming). A total of 71 items across 23 tools had at least one face validity issue.
Most items (83%) demonstrated satisfactory face validity and were consistent with either the DSM-5 or ICD-11 GD classification. However, many tests contain at least one item that may pathologize normal gaming behaviors. Such items refer to basic changes in mood when gaming, a desire to play or continue playing games, and experiencing immersion when gaming. This analysis highlights the challenges of screening for problematic behaviors that are thought to arise within the context of normal recreational activities.
Adolescent Internet pornography viewing has been significantly increased in the last decade with research highlighting its association with Internet addiction (IA). However, there is little longitudinal data on this topic, particularly in relation to peer context effects. This study aimed to examine age- and context-related variations in the Internet pornography–IA association.
A total of 648 adolescents, from 34 classrooms, were assessed at 16 years and then at 18 years to examine the effect of Internet pornography preference on IA in relation to the classroom context. IA was assessed using the Internet Addiction Test (Young, 1998), Internet pornography preference (over other Internet applications) was assessed with a binary (yes/no) question, and classroom introversion and openness to experience (OTE) with the synonymous subscales within the Five Factor Questionnaire (Asendorpf & Van Aken, 2003).
Three-level hierarchical linear models were calculated. Findings showed that viewing Internet pornography exacerbates the risk of IA over time, while classroom factors, such as the average level of OTE and introversion, differentially moderate this relationship.
Discussion and conclusion
The study demonstrated that the contribution of Internet pornography preference (as an IA risk factor) might be increased in more extroverted classrooms and decreased in OTE classrooms.
Gambling and gaming activities have become increasingly recognised as sharing many common features at a structural and aesthetic level. Both have also been implicated as contributing to harm through excessive involvement. Despite this, relatively little attention has been given to the fundamental characteristics that differentiate these two classes of activity, especially in situations where the boundaries between them may be particularly hard to distinguish. This is evident, for example, in digital games that incorporate free and paid virtual currencies or items, as well as the capacity for wagering. Such overlaps create problems for regulatory classifications, screening, diagnosis and treatment. Is the problem related to the gambling or gaming content?
In this paper, we review the principal sources of overlap between the activity classes in terms of several dimensions: interactivity, monetisation, betting and wagering, types of outcomes, structural fidelity, context and centrality of content, and advertising.
We argue that gaming is principally defined by its interactivity, skill-based play, and contextual indicators of progression and success. In contrast, gambling is defined by betting and wagering mechanics, predominantly chance-determined outcomes, and monetisation features that involve risk and payout to the player. A checklist measure is provided, with practical examples, to examine activities according to features of design and function, which may inform guidelines for policy makers, researchers and treatment providers.
Discussion and conclusions
We suggest that, in some instances, using category-based nomenclature (e.g., “gambling-like game”) may be too vague or cumbersome to adequately organise our understanding of new gaming/gambling hybrid activities.