In this commentary, I discuss the recent paper by Király et al. (2018), which provides a systematic review of current and potential policies addressing problematic gaming and suggesting current approaches include those (a) limiting video game availability, (b) reducing risk and harm, and (c) supporting gamers. This commentary uses a number of points raised by Király et al. (2018) to address the issue of policy context by discussing (a) the sociocultural environment and (b) the gamer and the game environment to (c) create the case for prevention to reduce risk and harm and to provide support for gamers and their families.
This commentary paper draws on Swanton et al.'s (2020) paper “Problematic risk-taking involving emerging technologies: A stakeholder framework to minimize harms” to discuss issues pertaining to the challenges and possible risks emerging technologies may pose for the users. It acknowledges technology use is not problematic per se, but for some users, it can be associated with preventable harms. Corporate social responsibility is called for to protect consumers. It is argued that there exists a collective responsibility to ensure technology can be used in a healthy and beneficial way, risk is reduced and harm is prevented.
Background and aims: Research suggests that excessive online gaming may lead to symptoms commonly experienced by substance addicts. Since games are particularly appealing to children and adolescents, these individuals may be more at risk than other groups of developing gaming addiction. Methods: Given these potential concerns, a literature review was undertaken in order (i) to present the classification basis of online gaming addiction using official mental disorder frameworks, (ii) to identify empirical studies that assess online gaming addiction in children and adolescents, and (iii) to present and evaluate the findings against the background of related and established mental disorder criteria. Results: Empirical evidence comprising 30 studies indicates that for some adolescents, gaming addiction exists and that as the addiction develops, online gaming addicts spend increasing amounts of time preparing for, organizing, and actually gaming. Conclusions: Evidence suggests that problematic online gaming can be conceptualized as a behavioral addiction rather than a disorder of impulse control.
This commentary examines the proposal made by Brand et al. (2022) regarding a framework outlining relevant criteria for considering possible behavioural addictions within the current World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) category of ‘other specified disorders due to addictive behaviours’. We agree with the framework as it highlights the clinical perspective requiring agreed-upon classifications and criteria to produce effective diagnostic procedures and efficacious treatments. Additionally, we propose to add the need of recognising potential addictive behaviour through the inclusion of a fourth meta-level criterion: ‘grey literature evidence’. Utilising non-academic evidence can provide validity in the social context where the behaviour takes place, and it can support authorities in taking action to prevent and treat the resultant behavioural problems. The inclusion of the proposed fourth criterion will aid comprehensibility of the current proposal and provide clarity, as indicated in the present commentary, which includes the fourth criterion analysis for problematic pornography use, shopping/buying and social networking site use.
The umbrella term “Internet addiction” has been criticized for its lack of specificity given the heterogeneity of potentially problematic behaviors that can be engaged in online as well as different underlying etiological mechanisms. This has led to the naming of specific online addictions, the most notable being Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD).
Using the contemporary literature concerning IGD and cognate topics, issues and concerns relating to the concept of IGD are examined.
Internet addiction and IGD are not the same, and distinguishing between the two is conceptually meaningful. Similarly, the diagnosis of IGD as proposed in the appendix of the latest (fifth) edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) remains vague regarding whether or not games need to be engaged in online, stating that IGD typically involves specific Internet games, but can also include offline games, adding to the lack of clarity. A number of authors have voiced concerns regarding the viability of including the word “Internet” in IGD, and instead proposed to use the term “video gaming disorder” or simply “gaming disorder,” suggesting addiction to video gaming can also occur offline.
The DSM-5 has caused more confusion than clarity regarding the disorder, reflected by researchers in the field contesting a supposedly reached consensus for IGD diagnosis.
The current DSM-5 diagnosis of Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 2013) has led to a number of issues and concerns that we highlighted in our recent paper (Kuss, Griffiths, & Pontes, 2017). Experts in the field responded to our evaluation of these issues resulting in six commentaries.
In this paper, we offer responses to the six commentaries to move the scientific field forward. All of the responses to our original paper highlighted many conceptual, theoretical, and/or methodological problems with the proposed IGD diagnosis as outlined in the DSM-5. We outline some ways forward in overcoming issues and concerns in the gaming studies field.
We argue that rather than stigmatizing gaming per se, the role of scientists and practitioners is to establish a clear-cut distinction between someone who may use games excessively but non-problematically and someone who is experiencing significant impairment in their daily lives as a consequence of their excessive gaming. This responsibility needs to be shared by popular media who are often quick to build a moral panic around gaming behaviors, often based on cherry-picking specific case studies and pieces of research which support their headlines.
Researchers, practitioners, gaming developers, and the media need to work together and collaboratively to build a realistic and comprehensive understanding of gaming as a normal, enjoyable, and often beneficial sociocultural practice, which for a small minority of excessive users may be associated with the experience of addiction-related symptoms that may require professional support.
Gaming applications have become one of the main entertainment features on smartphones, and this could be potentially problematic in terms of dangerous, prohibited, and dependent use among a minority of individuals. A cross-national study was conducted in Belgium and Finland. The aim was to examine the relationship between gaming on smartphones and self-perceived problematic smartphone use via an online survey to ascertain potential predictors.
The Short Version of the Problematic Mobile Phone Use Questionnaire (PMPUQ-SV) was administered to a sample comprising 899 participants (30% male; age range: 18–67 years).
Good validity and adequate reliability were confirmed regarding the PMPUQ-SV, especially the dependence subscale, but low prevalence rates were reported in both countries using the scale. Regression analysis showed that downloading, using Facebook, and being stressed contributed to problematic smartphone use. Anxiety emerged as predictor for dependence. Mobile games were used by one-third of the respective populations, but their use did not predict problematic smartphone use. Very few cross-cultural differences were found in relation to gaming through smartphones.
Findings suggest mobile gaming does not appear to be problematic in Belgium and Finland.
The recent paper by Aarseth et al. (2016) questioned whether problematic gaming should be considered a new disorder particularly because “Gaming Disorder” (GD) has been identified as a disorder to be included in the next (11th) revision of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
This study uses contemporary literature to argue why GD should be included in the ICD-11.
Aarseth and colleagues acknowledge that there is much literature (including papers by some of the authors themselves) that some individuals experience serious problems with video gaming. How can such an activity be seriously problematic yet not disordered? Similar to other addictions, gaming addiction is relatively rare and is in essence a syndrome (i.e., a condition or disorder characterized by a set of associated symptoms that tend to occur under specific circumstances). Consequently, not everyone will exhibit exactly the same set of symptoms and consequences, and this partly explains why those working in the problematic gaming field often disagree on symptomatology.
Research into gaming is not about pathologizing healthy entertainment, but about pathologizing excessive and problematic behaviors that cause significant psychological distress and impairment in an individual’s life. These are two related, but (ultimately) very distinct phenomena. While being aware that gaming is a pastime activity which is enjoyed non-problematically by many millions of individuals worldwide, it is concluded that problematic gaming exists and that it is an example of disordered gaming.
Gaming disorder was recently recognized as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization and included in the International Classification of Diseases. Extensive research has been conducted with regard to psychosocial correlates and comorbidity, less so for the developmental mechanisms and the processes leading to the disorder. The association between family factors, personality traits, and gaming has been studied independently but not in combination. To fill this gap in knowledge, this study examined (a) the association between parental acceptance–rejection theory and Internet gaming disorder (IGD) and (b) the mediating and moderating effect of core self-evaluations (CSE), a personality construct, on the aforementioned variables.
The study was quantitative and involved young adults members of online gaming communities (N = 225).
The results showed that parental rejection is associated with the occurrence of IGD, only through the mediating effect of CSE. The moderation model was not confirmed.
Findings bridge early emotional deficits with CSE personality traits and IGD, based on two widely acknowledged theoretical frameworks. In addition, they highlight the importance of the father’s role in upbringing.
These frameworks combine cognitive and attachment perspectives and a process-oriented approach to the development and maintenance of IGD. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to (a) the mechanisms leading to the disorder and (b) providing an evidence base for therapeutic interventions for IGD to go beyond abstinence and include self-esteem enhancement and efficacy contingencies. Directions for future research are also provided in this study.
The current study explored the nature of problematic (addictive) video gaming (PVG) and the association with game type, psychosocial health, and substance use.
Data were collected using a paper and pencil survey in the classroom setting. Three samples were aggregated to achieve a total sample of 8478 unique adolescents. Scales included measures of game use, game type, the Video game Addiction Test (VAT), depressive mood, negative self-esteem, loneliness, social anxiety, education performance, and use of cannabis, alcohol and nicotine (smoking).
Findings confirmed problematic gaming is most common amongst adolescent gamers who play multiplayer online games. Boys (60%) were more likely to play online games than girls (14%) and problematic gamers were more likely to be boys (5%) than girls (1%). High problematic gamers showed higher scores on depressive mood, loneliness, social anxiety, negative self-esteem, and self-reported lower school performance. Nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis using boys were almost twice more likely to report high PVG than non-users.
It appears that online gaming in general is not necessarily associated with problems. However, problematic gamers do seem to play online games more often, and a small subgroup of gamers — specifically boys — showed lower psychosocial functioning and lower grades. Moreover, associations with alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis use are found. It would appear that problematic gaming is an undesirable problem for a small subgroup of gamers. The findings encourage further exploration of the role of psychoactive substance use in problematic gaming.