The DSM-5 includes criteria for diagnosing Internet gaming disorder (IGD) that are adapted from substance abuse and widely used in research and clinical contexts, although evidence supporting their validity remains scarce. This study compared online gamers who do or do not endorse IGD criteria regarding self-control-related abilities (impulsivity, inhibitory control, and decision-making), considered the hallmarks of addictive behaviors.
A double approach was adopted to distinguish pathological from recreational gamers: The first is the classic DSM-5 approach (≥5 criteria required to endorse the IGD diagnosis), and the second consists in using latent class analysis (LCA) for IGD criteria to distinguish gamers’ subgroups. We computed comparisons separately for each approach. Ninety-seven volunteer gamers from the community were recruited. Self-reported questionnaires were used to measure demographic- and game-related characteristics, problematic online gaming (with the Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire), impulsivity (with the UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale), and depression (with the Beck Depression Inventory-II). Experimental tasks were used to measure inhibitory control (Hybrid-Stop Task) and decision-making abilities (Game of Dice Task).
Thirty-two participants met IGD criteria (33% of the sample), whereas LCA identified two groups of gamers [pathological (35%) and recreational]. Comparisons that used both approaches (DSM-5 and LCA) failed to identify significant differences regarding all constructs except for variables related to actual or problematic gaming behaviors.
The validity of IGD criteria is questioned, mostly with respect to their relevance in distinguishing high engagement from pathological involvement in video games.
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.
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 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.
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.
Authors:Espen Aarseth, Anthony M. Bean, Huub Boonen, Michelle Colder Carras, Mark Coulson, Dimitri Das, Jory Deleuze, Elza Dunkels, Johan Edman, Christopher J. Ferguson, Maria C. Haagsma, Karin Helmersson Bergmark, Zaheer Hussain, Jeroen Jansz, Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, Lawrence Kutner, Patrick Markey, Rune Kristian Lundedal Nielsen, Nicole Prause, Andrew Przybylski, Thorsten Quandt, Adriano Schimmenti, Vladan Starcevic, Gabrielle Stutman, Jan Van Looy and Antonius J. Van Rooij
Concerns about problematic gaming behaviors deserve our full attention. However, we claim that it is far from clear that these problems can or should be attributed to a new disorder. The empirical basis for a Gaming Disorder proposal, such as in the new ICD-11, suffers from fundamental issues. Our main concerns are the low quality of the research base, the fact that the current operationalization leans too heavily on substance use and gambling criteria, and the lack of consensus on symptomatology and assessment of problematic gaming. The act of formalizing this disorder, even as a proposal, has negative medical, scientific, public-health, societal, and human rights fallout that should be considered. Of particular concern are moral panics around the harm of video gaming. They might result in premature application of diagnosis in the medical community and the treatment of abundant false-positive cases, especially for children and adolescents. Second, research will be locked into a confirmatory approach, rather than an exploration of the boundaries of normal versus pathological. Third, the healthy majority of gamers will be affected negatively. We expect that the premature inclusion of Gaming Disorder as a diagnosis in ICD-11 will cause significant stigma to the millions of children who play video games as a part of a normal, healthy life. At this point, suggesting formal diagnoses and categories is premature: the ICD-11 proposal for Gaming Disorder should be removed to avoid a waste of public health resources as well as to avoid causing harm to healthy video gamers around the world.
Authors:Antonius J. van Rooij, Christopher J. Ferguson, Michelle Colder Carras, Daniel Kardefelt-Winther, Jing Shi, Espen Aarseth, Anthony M. Bean, Karin Helmersson Bergmark, Anne Brus, Mark Coulson, Jory Deleuze, Pravin Dullur, Elza Dunkels, Johan Edman, Malte Elson, Peter J. Etchells, Anne Fiskaali, Isabela Granic, Jeroen Jansz, Faltin Karlsen, Linda K. Kaye, Bonnie Kirsh, Andreas Lieberoth, Patrick Markey, Kathryn L. Mills, Rune Kristian Lundedal Nielsen, Amy Orben, Arne Poulsen, Nicole Prause, Patrick Prax, Thorsten Quandt, Adriano Schimmenti, Vladan Starcevic, Gabrielle Stutman, Nigel E. Turner, Jan van Looy and Andrew K. Przybylski
We greatly appreciate the care and thought that is evident in the 10 commentaries that discuss our debate paper, the majority of which argued in favor of a formalized ICD-11 gaming disorder. We agree that there are some people whose play of video games is related to life problems. We believe that understanding this population and the nature and severity of the problems they experience should be a focus area for future research. However, moving from research construct to formal disorder requires a much stronger evidence base than we currently have. The burden of evidence and the clinical utility should be extremely high, because there is a genuine risk of abuse of diagnoses. We provide suggestions about the level of evidence that might be required: transparent and preregistered studies, a better demarcation of the subject area that includes a rationale for focusing on gaming particularly versus a more general behavioral addictions concept, the exploration of non-addiction approaches, and the unbiased exploration of clinical approaches that treat potentially underlying issues, such as depressive mood or social anxiety first. We acknowledge there could be benefits to formalizing gaming disorder, many of which were highlighted by colleagues in their commentaries, but we think they do not yet outweigh the wider societal and public health risks involved. Given the gravity of diagnostic classification and its wider societal impact, we urge our colleagues at the WHO to err on the side of caution for now and postpone the formalization.