The psychology of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG's)

Vowles, Amy (2012). The psychology of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG's). University of Birmingham. Clin.Psy.D.

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This paper reviews the literature on the psychological predictors of the problematic use of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). Nineteen studies were included in the review and results are discussed in terms of seven broad areas; Play time, Demographic differences, Psychological wellbeing and mental health, Personality, Cognitive factors, Physiological factors and Gamer experience and motivations.

As a new area of research, the literature at present shows some limitations and inconsistencies across studies. Often factors have been considered in only one published paper, or findings are variable. The most consistent evidence suggests that increased play time is a significant risk factor for problematic use, along with mental health problems and poor psychological wellbeing. The strongest and most consistent predictor of problematic use identified so far appears to be the immersive use of MMORPGs in escaping from real life.
Further research should replicate these results and continue to investigate alternative possible risk factors. Longitudinal studies are imperative to differentiate confidently between risk factors and outcomes of problematic gaming, and group comparison studies should include problematic gamers, non-problematic gamers and a non-gaming control group to establish factors associated with problematic gaming specifically as oppose to gaming in general. Studies should consider the impact of age and location of the target population so that results are generalisable to the MMORPG population as a whole.

Implication for prevention and intervention of problematic gaming are discussed along with the implications of research in this area on the gaming industry.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Clin.Psy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Clin.Psy.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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