About This Project
Billions of hours are spent every week playing online video and computer games. This study aims to estimate the prevalence of addiction to these games in the general population, calculate its stability over time, and quantify what influence, if any, it has on mental and physical health.
The data and insights generated by this study will inform the public, scientists, and health practitioners. It will provide useful evidence to help determine if gaming addiction is an real psychiatric disorder.
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What is the context of this research?
In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) identified Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) as a potential psychiatric disorder that might merit inclusion in a future revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; APA, 2013). In line with this, the third section of the DSM-5 now details necessary and sufficient conditions for future diagnoses of IGD. Unfortunately, most research in this area know is derived from samples of convenience such as online support communities and Internet-based gaming forums. Shortcomings like these risk seriously misestimating the prevalence of IGD and can say little about its persistence and impact on health over time.
What is the significance of this project?
Because the quality of existing studies vary, estimates of so-called "gaming addiction" range from 0.1% (Festl et al., 2013) or as high as 50% (Hur, 2006). The proposed study is meant to address this gap in our understanding by conducting a prospective study of IGD in a nationally representative cohort. In particular, the study will evaluate the prevalence of acute IGD in the general population and investigate the extent to which these indicators and IGD are stable and influence health.
What are the goals of the project?
The project will recruit and follow a large nationally representative sample of American adults (≥ 5,000) to accomplish three goals.
The first goal is to quantify the prevalence IGD in the general population. To this end, participants will compete a symptoms checklist derived from the proposed DSM5 guidelines. The second goal is to quantify how stable IGD diagnoses are over time. Participants will complete measures at two points in time, once at the start of the study and again 6 months later. Finally, the third goal is to determine if IGD has effects on health. Measures derived from WHO and CDC research will be examined using a Bayesian hypothesis-testing framework.
Key to this research is recruiting and compensating a large and nationally-representative US adult cohort. Many aspects of the project are "free" such as researcher time but funds are needed to ensure the data collected has high integrity and results are widely available to anyone with an internet connection.
Providing this study is fully funded, any additional resources pledged by backers will be allocated to expanding the sample size. Increasing the sample size further would maximise statistical power and allow for more precise (i.e. smaller margin of error) estimates of the prevalence of IGD in the general population.
If backed, this work will be the first long-term nationally representative study of gaming addiction shaped by open science values and methodology. Following publication all data will be publicly available on the University of Oxford's long-term digital storage system with a unique digital object identifier (DOI).
Meet the Team
Based at the Oxford Internet Institute, the investigator's approach benefits from active collaborations with a multidisciplinary group of colleagues including economists, sociologists, philosophers and even a "pet" physicist.
Dr. Andrew Przybylski
I am an experimental psychologist working at the University of Oxford. Since 2005 my research has focused on applying motivational theory to understand the universal aspects of video games and social media that draw people in, the role of game structure and content on human aggression, and the factors that lead to successful versus unsuccessful self-regulation of gaming contexts and social media use.
Recent Press & Media Interviews of the investigator on his games research
Are Video Games Really That Bad? BBC Science
Rage Quitting, Frustration and Aggression Psychology of Games Podcast
Recent peer-reviewed papers published by investigator on his games research
Przybylski, A. K. & Mishkin A. F. (2015. How the Quantity and Quality of Electronic Gaming Relates to Adolescents' Academic Engagement and Psychosocial Adjustment.
Przybylski, A. K. (2014). Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment, Pediatrics. 134,1-7.
Przybylski, A. K., Deci, E. L., Rigby, C. S., & Ryan, R. M. (2014). Competence-impeding electronic games and players' aggressive feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106, 441-457.
Przybylski, A. K. (2014). Who believes violent video games cause real-world aggression? Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 17, 222-227.
Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., Murayama, K., Lynch, M. F., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). The ideal self at play: The appeal of video games that let you be all you can be. Psychological Science, 23, 69-76.
Przybylski, A. K., Rigby, C. S., & Ryan, R. M. (2010). A motivational model of video game engagement. Review of General Psychology, 14, 154-166.
Przybylski, A. K., Ryan, R. M., & Rigby, C. S. (2009). The motivating role of violence in video games. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 243-259.
Przybylski, A. K., Weinstein, N., Ryan, R. M., & Rigby, C. S. (2009). Having to versus wanting to play: Background and consequences of harmonious versus obsessive engagement in video games. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12, 485-492.
Rigby, C. S., & Przybylski, A. K. (2009). Virtual worlds and the learner hero: How today's video games can inform tomorrow's digital learning environments. Theory and Research in Education, 7, 214-223.
Ryan, R. M., Rigby, C. S., & Przybylski, A. K. (2006). The Motivational pull of video games: A self-determination theory approach. Motivation and Emotion, 30, 347-365.
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