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Study attempts to identify risks for 'problematic' video game usage

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Research from the University of Missouri published recently in the journal Frontiers in Psychology attempted to measure the individual habits and preferences found in "problematic" video game usage in adults.

Researchers distributed literature on message boards aimed at "game enthusiasts" and college undergraduates, with an aim to measure "individual habits and preferences in video game use." Their analysis identified nine factors — story, violent catharsis, violent reward, social interaction, escapism, loss-sensitivity, customization, grinding and autonomy — that were further analyzed to "reliably discriminate between inter-individual game preferences."

"The biggest risk factor for pathological video game use seems to be playing games to escape from daily life."

"Individual differences in motives, preferences, and pathology in video games: the gaming attitudes, motives, and experiences scales (GAMES)" pinpointed escapism, social interaction and rewards as fuel for "problematic" gaming, which includes other behaviors like lying about how much time you spend playing games and missing obligations like work to play games.

"The biggest risk factor for pathological video game use seems to be playing games to escape from daily life," said Joe Hilgard, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. "Individuals who play games to get away from their lives or to pretend to be other people seem to be those most at-risk for becoming part of a vicious cycle. These gamers avoid their problems by playing games, which in turn interferes with their lives because they're so busy playing games."

Hilgard also pointed out that massively multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft may also carry their own risks, because the games could impose "a sort of social obligation" on players that could "mess with individuals' real-life obligations."

Check out the video above to see the researchers give an overview of the study and explain how video game addiction can behave like other addictions, including alcoholism.