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      Player-avatar interactions in habitual and problematic gaming: A qualitative investigation

      1 , 1 , 1 , 2 , * ,
      Journal of Behavioral Addictions
      Akadémiai Kiadó
      gaming disorder, problematic gaming, avatar, avatar identification, self-concept

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          Background and aims

          Previous studies have reported that stronger avatar identification and negative self-concept are associated with gaming disorder (GD). This study aimed to examine the value and significance of avatars based on firsthand accounts from regular and problematic gamers, and to identify any potential links between avatar-related experiences and excessive gaming.


          An online survey of 993 adult gamers yielded 3,972 text responses. Qualitative analysis of 59,059 words extracted 10 categories of avatar-related perspectives.


          Some problem and non-problem gamers employed sentimental language (e.g., ‘dear friend’, ‘like a child’, ‘part of my soul’) to refer to their avatar. However, most participants perceived avatars as a means of achieving in-game goals and enabling greater interactivity (e.g., socializing). When asked to reflect on hypothetically losing their avatar, participants generally anticipated feeling temporary frustration or annoyance due to lost time and effort invested into the avatar. Although some participants reported that their avatar ‘mattered’, avatars were often considered as superficial (‘just pixels’) and peripheral to the primary reinforcement of achieving in-game rewards and objectives. Some broader psychological and identity issues such as gender dysphoria, rather than ‘addiction’, were cited as motivating persistent avatar-related interactions and attachment.

          Discussion and conclusions

          Participants reported diverse views on the psychological value and function of avatars, but the relationship between avatars and problematic gaming or GD was largely unclear or inconsistent, and refuted by some participants. Future research with clinical samples may lead to a better understanding of player-avatar processes, including whether avatar-stimuli facilitate the development of maladaptive gaming habits, particularly among psychologically vulnerable players. Future investigations should be mindful of ‘overpathologizing’ avatar-related phenomena and recognize their important role in socializing, storytelling, and creative expression among gamers.

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          Most cited references63

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          Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups.

          Qualitative research explores complex phenomena encountered by clinicians, health care providers, policy makers and consumers. Although partial checklists are available, no consolidated reporting framework exists for any type of qualitative design. To develop a checklist for explicit and comprehensive reporting of qualitative studies (in depth interviews and focus groups). We performed a comprehensive search in Cochrane and Campbell Protocols, Medline, CINAHL, systematic reviews of qualitative studies, author or reviewer guidelines of major medical journals and reference lists of relevant publications for existing checklists used to assess qualitative studies. Seventy-six items from 22 checklists were compiled into a comprehensive list. All items were grouped into three domains: (i) research team and reflexivity, (ii) study design and (iii) data analysis and reporting. Duplicate items and those that were ambiguous, too broadly defined and impractical to assess were removed. Items most frequently included in the checklists related to sampling method, setting for data collection, method of data collection, respondent validation of findings, method of recording data, description of the derivation of themes and inclusion of supporting quotations. We grouped all items into three domains: (i) research team and reflexivity, (ii) study design and (iii) data analysis and reporting. The criteria included in COREQ, a 32-item checklist, can help researchers to report important aspects of the research team, study methods, context of the study, findings, analysis and interpretations.
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            An international consensus for assessing internet gaming disorder using the new DSM-5 approach.

            For the first time, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) introduces non-substance addictions as psychiatric diagnoses. The aims of this paper are to (i) present the main controversies surrounding the decision to include internet gaming disorder, but not internet addiction more globally, as a non-substance addiction in the research appendix of the DSM-5, and (ii) discuss the meaning behind the DSM-5 criteria for internet gaming disorder. The paper also proposes a common method for assessing internet gaming disorder. Although the need for common diagnostic criteria is not debated, the existence of multiple instruments reflect the divergence of opinions in the field regarding how best to diagnose this condition. We convened international experts from European, North and South American, Asian and Australasian countries to discuss and achieve consensus about assessing internet gaming disorder as defined within DSM-5. We describe the intended meaning behind each of the nine DSM-5 criteria for internet gaming disorder and present a single item that best reflects each criterion, translated into the 10 main languages of countries in which research on this condition has been conducted. Using results from this cross-cultural collaboration, we outline important research directions for understanding and assessing internet gaming disorder. As this field moves forward, it is critical that researchers and clinicians around the world begin to apply a common methodology; this report is the first to achieve an international consensus related to the assessment of internet gaming disorder. © 2014 Society for the Study of Addiction.
              • Record: found
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              Is Open Access

              Problematic online gaming and the COVID-19 pandemic

              Stay-at-home mandates and quarantines related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have led to greatly increased participation in online gaming. Initiatives such as #PlayApartTogether that promote gaming for socializing and stress reduction may achieve positive outcomes. Although gaming can be a healthy coping strategy for the majority, it can also pose risks to some vulnerable individuals. Protracted periods of social isolation and technology-based activity pose the danger of solidifying unhealthy lifestyle patterns, leading to difficulties to readaptation when the COVID-19 crisis has passed. Balanced and effective approaches to gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic are needed to support physical and psychological wellbeing.

                Author and article information

                J Behav Addict
                J Behav Addict
                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                8 July 2021
                July 2021
                July 2021
                : 10
                : 2
                : 223-233
                [1 ]School of Psychology, The University of Adelaide , Australia
                [2 ]College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, Flinders University , Australia
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. E-mail: daniel.king@ 123456flinders.edu.au
                Author information
                © 2021 The Author(s)

                Open Access. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

                : 15 June 2020
                : 25 February 2021
                : 23 May 2021
                : 26 May 2021
                Page count
                Equations: 0, References: 62, Pages: 11
                Funded by: Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)
                Award ID: DE170101198
                Funded by: Australian Research Council (ARC)

                gaming disorder,problematic gaming,avatar,avatar identification,self-concept


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