Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2013 Nov 14;6:125-137.
Psychology Research and Behavior Management, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK.
In the 2000s, online games became popular, while studies of Internet gaming addiction emerged, outlining the negative consequences of excessive gaming, its prevalence, and associated risk factors. The establishment of specialized treatment centers in South-East Asia, the US, and Europe reflects the growing need for professional help. It is argued that only by understanding the appeal of Internet gaming, its context, and neurobiologic correlates can the phenomenon of Internet gaming addiction be understood comprehensively.
The aim of this review is to provide an insight into current perspectives on Internet gaming addiction using a holistic approach, taking into consideration the mass appeal of online games, the context of Internet gaming addiction, and associated neuroimaging findings, as well as the current diagnostic framework adopted by the American Psychiatric Association.
The cited research indicates that the individual’s context is a significant factor that marks the dividing line between excessive gaming and gaming addiction, and the game context can gain particular importance for players, depending on their life situation and gaming preferences. Moreover, the cultural context is significant because it embeds the gamer in a community with shared beliefs and practices, endowing their gaming with particular meaning.
The cited neuroimaging studies indicate that Internet gaming addiction shares similarities with other addictions, including substance dependence, at the molecular, neurocircuitry, and behavioral levels. The findings provide support for the current perspective of understanding Internet gaming addiction from a disease framework.
The benefits of an Internet gaming addiction diagnosis include reliability across research, destigmatization of individuals, development of efficacious treatments, and the creation of an incentive for public health care and insurance providers. The holistic approach adopted here not only highlights empirical research that evidences neurobiologic correlates of Internet gaming addiction and the establishment of a preliminary diagnosis, but also emphasizes the necessity of an indepth understanding of the meaning, context, and practices associated with gaming.
Internet gaming, Internet gaming addiction, context, current perspectives, diagnosis, neuroimaging