Achievement and Escapism Can Lead to Online Video Game Addiction

Summary: Achievement motivation is one of the strongest predictors of video game addiction, a new study reports.

Source: University at Buffalo

As online video games increase in popularity—particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to stay home—some players are becoming addicted as they seek feelings of achievement and escape, according to new research from the University at Buffalo School of Management.

Recently published in Decision Support Systems, the study found that gamers have a stronger feeling of ownership of the virtual environment compared to other technology users, such as website surfers. This interest in occupying the virtual world can become problematic—even addicting—when coupled with excessive playing time. 

“Gaming can be traced throughout human history as a way to help people relax and retreat from daily routines,” says Lawrence Sanders, PhD, professor of management science and systems in the UB School of Management. “But the booming popularity of online games has led to an increase in addiction, which can result in players ignoring family and job responsibilities. Severe cases can lead players to crime, health problems or even death.” 

The researchers surveyed more than 400 undergraduate business students to assess the impact of achievement motivation, social motivation and escapism on the psychological ownership of virtual gaming worlds—and how that relates to online game addiction. 

Their results show that while motivations for achievement and escapism predict a gamer’s psychological ownership of the virtual world, social motivation does not. 

“People looking to socialize take advantage of other options like in-person friendships or social media platforms—they don’t rely on the virtual world and gaming to connect with others,” says Sanders. 

The researchers recommend several strategies to address online game addiction. They say families, communities and universities should encourage outdoor activities, such as sports competitions and offline games, to address the need for achievement and escapism. In addition, parents, teachers and employers should pay attention to individuals who have a high level of primary control—the desire to change their environment and other people to achieve a sense of control—since they can be susceptible to addiction.

This shows a person holding a videogame controller for x box or play station
Their results show that while motivations for achievement and escapism predict a gamer’s psychological ownership of the virtual world, social motivation does not. Image is in the public domain

Meanwhile, for gamers themselves, the researchers suggest choosing a relatively easy or hard mode rather than an intermediate difficulty when playing. That’s because achievement motivation is one of the greatest predictors of online gaming addiction, and since easy modes are not competitive and hard modes are tough to master, they reduce the likelihood of players getting hooked. 

Sanders collaborated on the study with lead author Xunyi Wang, PhD, assistant professor of information systems in the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, and Mohamed Abdelhamid, PhD, assistant professor of information systems at California State University Long Beach. Wang and Abdelhamid are both UB School of Management doctoral alumni.

About this video game addiction research news

Source: University at Buffalo
Contact: Press Office – University at Buffalo
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Closed access.
Exploring the effects of psychological ownership, gaming motivations, and primary/secondary control on online game addiction” by Lawrence Sanders et al. Decision Support Systems


Abstract

Exploring the effects of psychological ownership, gaming motivations, and primary/secondary control on online game addiction

Online gaming has grown to be a very popular electronic entertainment for people throughout the world. However, the burgeoning popularity of online games in some cases leads to addiction, a phenomenon that has received considerable attention.

The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of psychological ownership, gaming motivation, and primary–secondary control on online game addiction (OGA). Based on 436 valid responses collected from online questionnaires, the partial least squares structural equation modeling approach was employed to test the research model.

Findings show that the motivations of achievement and escapism are positively associated with psychological ownership toward a virtual gaming environment. Of particular interest is the inverted-U relationship between psychological ownership and OGA, suggesting that too little or too much psychological ownership is associated with less OGA.

Finally, individuals with high levels of primary (secondary) control are more (less) inclined to be addicted to online games.

This study provides practical implications and strategies to address the alarming increase in OGA.

First, families, communities, and universities should encourage outdoor activities, such as sports competitions, and offline cosplay games to address the need for achievement and escapism. Second, individuals who play online games for relaxation should choose a relatively easy or hard mode to avoid game addiction. Finally, parents, teachers, and employers are encouraged to pay attention to individuals who have a high level of primary control since they can be susceptible to OGA.

This study provides several theoretical contributions. First, the study enriches OGA and the gaming motivation literature by exploring the roles of gaming motivation, psychological ownership, and personal control strategies as they can be a factor in OGA.

In addition, this study is the first to investigate the dark side of psychological ownership in terms of negative outcomes for OGA. This study also advances the personal control strategy literature by understanding the roles of primary and secondary control on OGA.

Join our Newsletter
I agree to have my personal information transferred to AWeber for Neuroscience Newsletter ( more information )
Sign up to receive our recent neuroscience headlines and summaries sent to your email once a day, totally free.
We hate spam and only use your email to contact you about newsletters. You can cancel your subscription any time.
  1. I really think it would benefit you guys to stop thinking of about specific addictions such as gaming as being quantitatively different from other forms of addiction. They are all the same thing except to varying degrees of severity and social acceptability. I am a heroin addict and a gaming addict – I have lived it all and pulled myself out of them both. It is possible I am making an subjective interpretive mistake but I don’t think so. I have worked with addicts for thousands upon thousands of hours, and to me they differ only in the degree of suffering. The core issue has remained the same in 95% of the people I work with. The other 5% seem to be the real addicts, their is no suffering in their subjective experience they just like drugs. These types of addicts are rare and for them almost all hope is lost, I have never successfully treated in. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned excspism, that is the only important measure in predicting addiction which you mentioned in the study, in my experience anyways. The more suffering and dysfunction in the person’s life, the more extreme the manifestation of addiction will be. We need to change curriculum for young children to include mental health classes which put them in tune with their needs. Technology has made things too complex not to make these things mandatory lessons, if we do not the mental health crisis will continue to spiral out of control.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *