Addiction and aggression within the MMO context (Grusser, Thalemann & Griffiths, 2007)

So we have some researchers asking whether there’s a connection between aggression and addiction within video games. Mark Griffiths is someone I recognize in the psych literature who has done extensive research on addiction, especially gambling.

A simple reasoning from the authors is that according to the lit.: violent video games increase aggression in players, while the addiction part is something that is now recognized amongst MMOG players. So two negative components of video games are now under the psychology microscope. However, their findings suggest that there is no or little connection between aggression and addiction

Method

The study is quite simple really: an online survey of players (7069 players, age average= 21.11, SD=6.35) who completed 2 questionnaires of which they related to gaming behaviours and aggression-related and violent-related variables. Of the gaming behaviours, in order to classify someone as addicted they used criteria based from the ICD-10 for dependence. I don’t know which specific one.

They analyzed the data using chi-square and a one-way ANOVA.

Results

11.9% of players fulfill the criteria for addiction. That’s quite a high number, but I do wonder the percentage of people who are alcoholics or those who are compulsive gamblers? But remember the criteria are adapted from existing diagnostic criteria, so the percentage mark is uncertain, but it should not be ignored because it is judged to be the best criteria under the present circumstances. i.e. video game addiction resembles very much to gambling addiction, even though there are marked differences, but it’s all we have for now.

So how they can tell that they are addicted? Well they asked if they: played more hours than non-addicts, expected to feel relief from withdrawal when playing, and craving for good things to happen in-game (waiting to get their high?).

What about aggression? They simply said that more addicts reported aggressive behaviours than non-addicts. But regression analysis demonstrated that gaming addiction accounts for 1.8% for being responsible for aggression. Well, that’s a self-report survey and I don’t know what question the researchers asked for: is it verbal aggression or physical aggression? Is it directed to a person or is it simply anger, like punching a wall for being pwned?

Their conclusion states that based on the addiction criteria used there are marked statistical differences between non-addicts and addicts. But the connection between addiction and aggression is weak; they suggested identifying what type of games addicts play that differs from non-addicts. Advice for addicts is that they should self-monitor and have more realistic expectation from their play session.

All in all, this is a quikie study and should be considered of low importance policy-wise since it appears to probe the question of whether aggression and addiction is connected. In any case, I expect the researchers fine-tuning their questionnaires and achieve a more accurate result.

Grüsser, S.M., Thalemann, R., & Griffiths, M.D. (2007) Excessive computer game playing: Evidence for addiction and aggression? Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 1o, 2, 290-292.

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