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Do MMOs foster "problematic" and "pathological" game use?

By Michael Jamias
mmo problematic pathological addiction

University of Missouri just finished a big study on video game use among adults, and why MMOs can be dangerously addictive.

Researchers found that there are three main risk factors that lead to MMO addiction: First, mmo games offer escapism through fantasy immersion. Second, it encourages grinding by earning rewards through frequent play or buying in-game currency with real-world money. And third, it creates strong social interactions through organized player cooperation, competition, and socialization.

Basically, gamers end up obsessing over mmos because of these attention-retaining features.

But researchers warned that this does not mean only mmorpg games can be addicting. In fact, console and mobile games that share the same game design can be equally addictive. Video game addiction is continually evolving, they said, and there are are always new genres prone to attracting players with unhealthy game play habits.

"After all, it was just 30 years ago that 'game addiction' was synonymous with single-player arcade action games with no persistent rewards to earn (e.g., Missile Command, Asteroids, Galaga). Games in this style are very different from today's MMORPGs," researchers said in the study.

The study also reiterates that player personalities also play a huge factor in whether they become addicted or not, and that sometimes it just so happens that the player chose an MMO to fulfill his particular psychological needs, be it to escape from his current reality or meet new people online.


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