Date Approved

5-19-2014

Date Posted

6-12-2014

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Karen Saules, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Stephen Jefferson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Natalie Dove, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Howard Lerner, Ph.D.

Abstract

The number of individuals who play videogames has increased dramatically in recent years. Unsurprisingly, the frequency with which patients seek psychotherapeutic services to help cope with problematic videogame playing (PVGP) behaviors has also risen. Thus, explorations into the specific characteristics of PVGP are essential now more than ever before. However, the current state of the literature primarily relies on comparisons between PVGP and pathological gambling, utilizing modified measures of the latter to assess the former. To date, no studies have attempted to adapt the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder (SUD) in an effort to understand PVGP within the context of addiction. Further, few studies have explored the specific game characteristics and individual factors that contribute to the presence of PVGP.

The current study sought to address these questions by adapting the SUD criteria to address videogame-related behavior via a measure labeled as the Videogame Addiction Scale (VGAS). Comparisons of the psychometrics and criterion validity of the VGAS and leading measures of PVGP suggested the former was superior. Further, results indicated that higher levels of addiction were present in players who prefer the MMORPG and Shooter genres over all other types of games, with the former yielding significantly higher VGAS scores than the latter. Further, many of the structural characteristics of videogames were considered to be more enjoyable, important, and associated with longer playtimes for individuals with higher “addiction” scores than their low scoring counterparts. Lastly, a model of videogame addiction was generated that aligns with the current literature on substance use disorders. Specifically, impulsivity, maladaptive coping, weekly playtime, and particular structural characteristics all seem to relate to videogame addiction.

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