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.
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.
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.
Crypto-currency trading is a rapidly growing form of behaviour characterised by investing in highly volatile digital assets based largely on blockchain technology. In this paper, we review the particular structural characteristics of this activity and its potential to give rise to excessive or harmful behaviour including over-spending and compulsive checking. We note that there are some similarities between online sports betting and day trading, but also several important differences. These include the continuous 24-hour availability of trading, the global nature of the market, and the strong role of social media, social influence and non-balance sheet related events as determinants of price movements.
We review the specific psychological mechanisms that we propose to be particular risk factors for excessive crypto trading, including: over-estimations of the role of knowledge or skill, the fear of missing out (FOMO), preoccupation, and anticipated regret. The paper examines potential protective and educational strategies that might be used to prevent harm to inexperienced investors when this new activity expands to attract a greater percentage of retail or community investors.
Discussion and conclusions
The paper suggests the need for more specific research into the psychological effects of regular trading, individual differences and the nature of decision-making that protects people from harm, while allowing them to benefit from developments in blockchain technology and crypto-currency.
Engagement in responsible or ‘positive play’ strategies is known to be negatively associated with problem gambling, as indexed by measures such as the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI). Less is known about whether positive play is associated with reduced harm or a greater ability to enjoy the recreational benefits of gambling.
This study investigated the relationship between positive play and gambling harm after controlling for PGSI scores and whether positive play moderated the relationship between PGSI scores and harm. It also examined whether positive play was related to perceived benefits associated with gambling.
The study utilised an online panel sample of 554 respondents who completed a survey that included the PGSI, measures of gambling harm drawn from Browne et al. (2016), and the newly developed Positive Play Scale (Wood et al., 2019). The study involved predominantly monthly gamblers with higher levels of gambling risk: 23% problem gamblers; 36% moderate risk; and 21% low risk gamblers.
The results indicated that positive play was negatively associated with reduced gambling harm. The behavioural Positive Play subscales relating to pre-commitment and honesty and control explained additional variation in harm after controlling for PGSI scores. Higher levels of positive play also moderated and reduced the relationship between the PGSI and gambling harm. Perceived benefits were, unexpectedly, found to be higher in problem gamblers and negatively related to positive play.
Behavioural measures of positive play appear to be useful moderating factors in understanding the relationship between problem gambling and harm. Higher-risk gamblers appear to experience both greater costs as well as benefits from gambling, which likely reflects a stronger personal need to engage in the activity.
Play-to-earn (P2E) gaming is a newly emerging form of gaming increasingly based on blockchain technology. In this paper, we examine the mechanics and business model of these games and their potential benefits and risks for players.
The paper draws upon and critically synthesises the developing published literature on predatory monetization in gaming as well as objective market data drawn from credible online sources.
P2E gaming blurs the boundaries between gaming and trading and may not yield many of the benefits promoted to consumers or otherwise conveyed through marketing and social media messaging. Particular risks include the deflationary nature of reward currencies and the asymmetric reward structures that heavily favour early investors and exploit late adopters.
Discussion and conclusions
This paper highlights the need for greater consumer awareness of the mechanics and risks of these new gaming models. It will be important for business models to be more transparent and designed so as to encourage more equitable game outcomes, sustainable returns, a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and protection for potentially vulnerable players.
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.