Clinical and Personality Correlates of MMO Gaming: Anxiety and Absorption in Problematic Internet Use
Massively-multiplayer online games (MMOs) are increasingly popular worldwide. MMO gaming can result in problematic Internet use (PIU; or Internet addiction), which is characterized by dysfunction in areas such as work or relationships. Because PIU in online gaming is increasingly seen in clinical populations, we explored PIU in the context of MMO gaming. Using a cross-sectional design, we sought to identify clinical and personality factors, as well as motivations for gaming, that differentiated between people who scored high or low on a measure of problematic Internet use. Subjects completed all study procedures via an online survey. Participants were 163 MMO users recruited from the community, from gaming websites, and from online forums. Subjects completed a series of demographic, mood, anxiety, and personality questionnaires. The study found that individuals in the high PIU group (n = 79) were more likely to have higher levels of social phobia (p = .000), state (p = .000) and trait (p = .000) anxiety, introversion (p = .000), neuroticism (p = .000) and absorption (p = .019) than individuals in the low-PIU group (n = 84). Different reasons for gaming also characterized the group with more problematic Internet use. Our findings provide support for the idea that high anxiety and absorption may be risk factors for problematic Internet use within the MMO gaming environment and suggest that gamers who endorse problematic Internet use identify different motivations for online gaming than gamers who do not.