Physiological arousal deficits in addicted gamers differ based on preferred game genre (2014)

Eur Addict Res. 2014;20(1):23-32. doi: 10.1159/000349907. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

Metcalf O1, Pammer K.



There has been significant discussion surrounding the psychopathology of excessive gaming and whether it constitutes an addiction. The current study investigated physiological and subjective levels of arousal in gamers of two genres and the relationship between sensation seeking and gaming addiction.


Heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP) and skin conductance were recorded at baseline, during gaming for 15 min and after gaming in 30 massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) and 30 first-person shooter (FPS) male gamers. Gamers were identified as addicted using the Addiction-Engagement Questionnaire. Sensation seeking was measured using the Arnett Inventory of Sensation Seeking.


Addicted MMORPG gamers (n=16) displayed significant decreases in cardiovascular activity during gaming compared to baseline and showed significant increases after gaming. Addicted FPS gamers (n=13) had significant increases in BP during gaming which decreased significantly after gaming. In comparison, non-addicted MMORPG gamers (n=14) had significant decreases in HR during gaming, whereas BP in non-addicted MMORPG and FPS gamers (n=17) increased during gaming and after gaming. There were no significant relationships between sensation seeking and addiction.


There are physiological arousal deficits in addicted gamers, and these patterns differ according to the genre of game played.