Addiction and Engagement: An Explorative Study Toward Classification Criteria for Internet Gaming Disorder (2015)

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2015 Jun;18(6):343-349.

Lehenbauer-Baum M1,2, Klaps A1, Kovacovsky Z1, Witzmann K1, Zahlbruckner R1, Stetina BU1.


The DSM-5 introduced Internet gaming disorder (IGD) as a condition needing more research. Proposed criteria include tolerance, preoccupation, deceiving, or continued excess despite psychosocial problems. However, studies suggest differences between addicted and engaged players. Therefore, this study investigated differences between engagement and addiction in a German-speaking sample of expert World of Warcraft players. Using an online-based questionnaire, 682 participants were surveyed (Mage=23.26 years; 84.9% male) from German-speaking areas. An adapted version of the “Asheron’s call” questionnaire (which covers six addiction criteria, including salience, euphoria, and tolerance), the WHOQOL-BREF, the Gaming Motivation Scale, the BDI, the SPIN, and a brief version of the personality questionnaire BFI-10 were used. The average gamer in the sample played on level 87.93 and had been playing for 5.42 years. Addicted players had higher scores on the BDI and SPIN and significantly lower scores in all dimensions of quality of life. Addicted gamers played for 39.25 hours per week (engaged players: 11.93 hours per week) with significantly higher scores in items tapping achievement and immersion. There were differences regarding the BFI-10 in terms of “agreeableness,” “conscientiousness,” and “neuroticism.” The results suggest that factors such as achievement and immersion set engaged and addicted users apart. Addiction seems to be significantly more connected to other psychopathologies such as depression and social anxiety. The results suggest that euphoria, tolerance, and cognitive salience should be handled with caution when it comes to a classification of IGD similar to (behavioral) addiction.