Online gaming and addiction: a psychosocial investigation using mixed methods
Online virtual worlds known as Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) have gained increased popularity over the last decade. MMORPGs provide a sophisticated environment that enables complete immersion within the virtual world to the extent that it may become an alternative reality to its users. Some researchers have suggested that online gaming addiction is growing in prevalence among adolescents and adult gamers. It has been proposed that research is needed to establish the incidence and prevalence of MMORPG addiction. The aim of this body of research was to examine the impact of MMORPGs (psychologically and socially) on peoples’ lives for the purpose of providing an empirical research base on which future research in the area can build. Using a mixed methods approach for data collection and analysis, an online scoping study, interview study and two questionnaire studies were conducted. The thesis provides a detailed conceptualisation of the psychological processes involved in MMORPG playing. The thesis was directed by previous research into video games, online gaming and addiction which provided a substantive picture of the psychosocial effects of online gaming. The findings showed that there were both positive and negative effects associated with online gaming; gamers used MMORPGs to alleviate negative feelings and to meet new people, learn about new cultures, and build friendships.
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