Intense Video Gaming Is Not Essentially Problematic
Video games are more popular than ever and the general public, including parents, educators, and the media, tends to consider intense video gaming fundamentally problematic. To test this hypothesis, participants were recruited via gaming-related websites resulting in a sample of N = 5,222 online video gamers (mean age: 22.2 years, SD = 6.4). Besides assessing gaming time, we administered the Ten-Item Internet Gaming Disorder Test, the Brief Symptom Inventory, and the Motives for Online Gaming Questionnaire. Two structural regression models were estimated with both gaming time and problematic gaming as outcome variables. Predictors were psychiatric symptoms in the first, and gaming motives in the second model. Both models yielded adequate fit indices. Psychiatric symptoms had a moderate positive effect on problematic use (β = .46, p < .001) whereas their effect on gaming time was practically zero (β = −.01, p = .84). In the second model, Escape was the most prominent motive and was moderately to-strongly associated (β = .58, p < .001) with problematic use. However, the association between Escape and gaming time was substantially weaker (β = .21, p < .001). The correlation between gaming time and problematic use was weak-to-moderate in both models (r = .26, p < .001 and r = .21, p < .001, respectively). Data suggest that gaming time is weakly associated with negative psychological factors such as psychiatric symptoms and Escape motive, which were found to be consistently related to problematic use. Therefore, the amount of gaming time alone appears to be an unreliable predictor of problematic use, which questions the aforementioned idea that intense gaming is essentially problematic.