Predict excessive use of Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games: The role of social anxiety and identification with the character

Author/s Donata Tania Vergura, Beatrice Luceri
Publishing Year 2017 Issue 2017/4
Language English Pages 17 P. 19-35 File size 112 KB
DOI 10.3280/MC2017-004002
DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation click here

Below, you can see the article first page

If you want to buy this article in PDF format, you can do it, following the instructions to buy download credits

Article preview

FrancoAngeli is member of Publishers International Linking Association, Inc (PILA), a not-for-profit association which run the CrossRef service enabling links to and from online scholarly content.

As the popularity of computer games has grown, questions are being raised about their excessive use and factors related to addictive behaviours. This study investigates whether social anxiety and connection with the character affect frequency of play and game dependency in Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMPORGs). Furthermore, the mediating effect of identification with the character is assumed in the relationships between social anxiety and (a) frequency of play and (b) game dependency. A survey with 264 Italians who engaged in MMPORGs was conducted. Structural equation modelling was used to estimate the hypothesized relationships. The analysis confirmed that social anxiety and identification with the character play a crucial role in the development of problematic behaviours. Identification with the character also acts as a mediator in the social anxiety - game addiction relationship. The findings may improve the understanding of MMPORGs players’ behaviour and provide implications for policy makers, health professionals and marketers to encourage and promote responsible online gaming.

Keywords: MMPORGs, social anxiety, identification with the character, frequency of play, game dependency, structural equation modelling.

  1. Achab S., Nicolier M., Mauny F., Monnin J., Trojak B., Vandel P., Sechter D., Gorwood P. and Haffen, E. (2011). Massively multiplayer online role-playing games: comparing characteristics of addict vs non-addict online recruited gamers in a French adult population. BMC Psychiatry, 11(1), DOI: 10.1186/1471-244X-11-144
  2. Allison S.E., von Wahlde L., Shockley T. and Gabbard G.O. (2006). The development of the self in the era of the Internet and role-playing fantasy games. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(3): 381-385,
  3. Bessière K., Seay A. and Kiesler, S. (2007). The Ideal Elf: Identity Exploration in World of Warcraft. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4): 530-535,
  4. Blais J.J., Craig W.M., Pepler D. and Connolly J. (2008). Adolescents online: The importance of internet activity choices to salient relationships, Journal of Youth Adolescent, 37(5): 522-536,
  5. Belk R. (2013). Extended self in a digital world. Journal of Consumer Research, 40: 477-500, DOI: 10.1086/671052
  6. Belk R. (2014). Digital consumption and the extended self. Journal of Marketing Management, 30(11-12): 1101-1118,
  7. Billieux J., Van der Linden M., Achab S., Khazaal Y., Paraskevopoulos L., Zullino D., et al. (2013). Why do you play World of Warcraft? An in-depth exploration of self-reported motivations to play online and in-game behaviours in the virtual world of Azeroth. Computers in Human Behavior, 29: 103-109,
  8. Billieux J., Thorens G., Khazaal Y., Zullino D., Achab S., & Van der Linden M. (2015). Problematic involvement in online games: A cluster analytic approach. Computers in Human Behavior, 43: 242-250,
  9. Blascovich J. and Bailenson J. (2011). Infinite Reality: Avatars, eternal life, new worlds, and the dawn of the virtual revolution. Hammersmith: HarperCollins ebooks.
  10. Bollen K.A. (1989). Structural Equations with Latent Variables. New York, NY: Wiley Interscience.
  11. Brian D.N.G. and Wiemer-Hastings P. (2005). Addiction to the Internet and Online Gaming. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 8(2): 110-113,
  12. Browne M.W. and Cudeck R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. Sage Focus Editions, 154: 136-136.
  13. Caplan S.E. (2003). Preference for online social interaction: A theory of problematic Internet use and psychosocial wellbeing. Communication Research, 30(6): 625-648, DOI: 10.1177/0093650203257842
  14. Caplan S., Williams D. and Yee N. (2009). Problematic Internet use and psychosocial well-being among MMO players. Computers in Human Behavior, 25(6): 1312-1319,
  15. Chappell D., Eatough V., Davies M.N. and Griffiths M. (2006). EverQuest – It’s just a computer game right? An interpretative phenomenological analysis of online gaming addiction. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4(3): 205-216,
  16. Cole H. and Griffiths M.D. (2007), Social interactions in massively multiplayer online role-playing gamers. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4): 575-583,
  17. Collins E., Freeman J. and Chamarro-Premuzic T. (2012). Personality traits associated with problematic and non-problematic massively multiplayer online role playing game use. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(2): 133-138,
  18. Cortina J. (1993). What is coefficient alpha? An examination of theory and applications. Journal of Applied Psychology and Aging, 78(1): 98-104, DOI: 10.1037/0021-9010.78.1.9
  19. Chiu S.I., Lee J.Z. and Huang D.H. (2004). Video game addiction in children and teenagers in Taiwan. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 7(5): 571-581,
  20. du Toit R.M., Millson R.C., Heaton J.P. and Adams M.A. (2004). Priapism. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 49(12): 868-869, DOI: 10.1177/070674370404901223
  21. Field A. (2000). Discovering statistics using SPSS for windows. London: Sage.
  22. Friedl M. (2003). Online Game Interactivity Theory. USA: Charles River Media, Inc.
  23. Griffiths M.D. (2010). Computer game playing and social skills: A pilot study. Aloma, Revista de Psicologia, 27: 301-310.
  24. Griffiths M.D., Davies M.N.O. and Chappell D. (2003). Breaking the Stereotype: The case of online gaming, Cyberpsychology & Behaviour, 6(1): 81-91, DOI: 10.1089/109493103321167992
  25. Grüsser S.M., Thalemann R. and Griffiths M. D. (2007). Excessive Computer Game Playing: Evidence for Addiction and Aggression? (Rapid communication). Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 10(2): 290-292,
  26. Haagsma M.C., Pieterse M.E., Peters O. and King D.L. (2013). How gaming may become a problem: A qualitative analysis of the role of gaming related experiences and cognitions in the development of problematic game behaviour. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 11(4): 441-452,
  27. Hair J.F., Black W.C., Babin B., Anderson R.E. and Tatham R.L. (2005). Multivariate Data Analysis 6th Ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  28. Hooper D., Coughlan J. and Mullen M. (2008). Structural equation modelling: Guidelines for determining model fit. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 6(1): 53-60.
  29. Hsu S.H., Wen M-H. and Wu M-C. (2009). Exploring user experiences as predictors of MMORPG addiction. Computers & Education, 53(3): 990-999,
  30. Hu L.T. and Bentler P.M. (1995). Evaluating model fit. In: Hoyle R.H., Ed., Structural equation modeling: Concepts, issues, and applications (76-99). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  31. Hussain Z. and Griffiths M.D. (2009). Excessive use of Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games: A Pilot Study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 7(4): 563-571,
  32. Jeong E.J. and Kim D.W. (2010). Social activities, self-efficacy, game attitudes, and game addiction. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 14(4): 213-221,
  33. Kim E.J., Namkoong K., Ku T. and Kim S.J. (2008). The relationship between online game addiction and aggression, self-control and narcissistic personality traits. European Psychiatry, 23(3): 212-218,
  34. Ko C.H., Yen J.Y., Chen C.C., Chen S.H. and Yen C.F. (2005). Gender differences and related factors affecting online gaming addiction among Taiwanese adolescents. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 193(4): 273-277,
  35. Kujanpää T., Manninen T. and Vallius L. (2007). What’s my game character worth – The value components of MMOG characters. Paper presented at 2007 DiGRA
  36. Conference. -- Available at:’s_My_Game_Character_WorthThe_Value_Components_of_MMOG_Characters/links/0deec53577c9230500000000.pdf (06/05/2016).
  37. Kuss D.J., Louws J. and Wiers R.W. (2012). Online gaming addiction? Motives predict addictive play behavior in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(9): 480-485,
  38. Lemenager T., Gwodz A., Richter A., Reinhard I., Kämmerer N., Sell M., Mann K. (2013). Self-concept deficits in massively multiplayer online role-playing games addiction. European Addiction Research, 19(5): 227-234, DOI: 10.1159/000345458
  39. Liu M. and Peng W. (2009). Cognitive and psychological predictors of the negative outcomes associated with playing MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games). Computers in Human Behavior, 25(6): 1306-1311,
  40. Lo S.H., Wang C.C. and Fang W. (2005). Physical interpersonal relationships and social anxiety among online game players. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 8(1): 15-20,
  41. Mazer J.P. and Ledbetter A.M. (2012). Online communication attitudes as predictors of problematic internet usage and well-being outcomes. Southern Communication Journal, 77(5): 403-419,
  42. Mattick R.P. and Clarke J.C. (1998). Development and validation of measures of social phobia scrutiny fear and social interaction anxiety. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36(4): 455-470,
  43. Mehroof M. and Griffiths M.D. (2010). Online gaming addiction: The role of sensation seeking, self-control, neuroticism, aggression, state anxiety, and trait anxiety. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13(3): 313-316,
  44. Mentzoni R.A., Brunborg G.S., Molde H., Myrseth H., Skouveroe K.J., Hetland J. and Pallesen S. (2011). Problematic video game use: Estimated prevalence and associations with mental and physical health. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, 14(10): 591-596,
  45. Ng B.D. and Wiemer-Hastings P. (2005). Addiction to the Internet and online gaming. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 8(2), 110-13,
  46. Nunnally J.C. and Bernstein I.H. (1994). Psychometric theory (3rd Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  47. Nuutinen T., Roos E., Ray C., Villiberg J., Valimaa R., Rasmussen M. and Tynjala J. (2014). Computer use, sleep duration and health symptoms: a cross-sectional study of 15-year olds in three countries. International Journal of Public Health, 59(4): 619-628,
  48. Park S.B. and Chung N. (2011). Mediating roles of self-presentation desire in online game community commitment and trust behavior of Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Computer in Human Behaviour, 27(6): 2372-2379,
  49. Peng W. and Liu M. (2010). Online gaming dependency: A preliminary study in China. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13(3): 329-333,
  50. Peters C.S. and Malesky L.A. (2008). Problematic usage among highly-engaged players of massively multiplayer online role playing games. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11(4): 481-484,
  51. Porter G., Starcevic V., Berle D. and Fenech P. (2010). Recognizing problem video game use. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 44(2): 120-128, DOI: 10.3109/00048670903279812
  52. Rasmussen M., Riebeling Meilstrup C., Bendtsen P., Pagh Pedersen T., Nielsen L., Rich Madsen K. and Holstein B.E. (2015). Perceived problems with computer gaming and Internet use are associated with poorer social relations in adolescence. International Journal of Publich Health, 60(2): 619-629,
  53. Rumpf H.J., Vermulst A.A., Bischof A., Kastirke N., Guertler D., Bischof G., ... & Meyer C. (2013). Occurence of internet addiction in a general population sample: A latent class analysis. European Addiction Research, 20(4): 159-166, DOI: 10.1159/000354321
  54. Satorra A. and Bentler P.M. (1994). Corrections to test statistics and standard errors in covariance structural analysis. In: Von Eye A. and Clogg C.C., Eds., Latent variables analysis: Applications for developmental research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  55. Seay A.F. and Kraut R.E. (2007). Project massive: Self-regulation and problematic use of online gaming. Paper presented at SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, April 28-May 3, San Jose, CA, USA. -- Available at: (06/05/2016).
  56. Smahel D., Blinka L. and Ledaby O. (2008). Playing MMORPGs: Connections between Addiction and Identifying with a character. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 11(6): 715-718,
  57. Son D.T., Yasuoka J., Poudel K.C., Otsuka K. and Jimba M. (2013). Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG): Association between its addiction, self-control and mental disorders among young people in Vietnam. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 59(6): 570–577, DOI: 10.1177/0020764012445861
  58. Stavropoulos V., Kuss D.J., Griffiths M.D., Wilson P. and Motti-Stefanidi F. (2015). MMORPG gaming and hostility predict Internet Addiction symptoms in adolescents: An empirical multilevel longitudinal study. Addictive behaviors,
  59. Tejeiro Salguero R.A. and Bersabé Morán R.M. (2002). Measuring problem video game playing in adolescents, Addiction, 97(12): 1601-1606,
  60. Thomas A.R. (2016). What is Social Anxiety? Social Anxiety Institute. -- Available at:
  61. Van den Bulck J. (2004). Television viewing, computer game playing, and internet use and self-reported time to bed and time out of bed in secondary-school children. Sleep, 27(1): 101-104, DOI: 10.1080/15402002.2011.596599
  62. Walther B., Morgenstern M., Hanewinkel R. (2012). Co-occurrence of addictive behaviours: Personality factors related to substance use, gambling and computer gaming. European Addiction Research, 18(4): 167-174, DOI: 10.1159/000335662
  63. Whang L.S. and Chang G.Y. (2002), Psychological analysis of online game users. Paper presented at Human Computer Interaction, Korea.
  64. Williams D., Yee N. and Caplan S.E. (2008). Who plays, how much, and why? Debunking the stereotypical gamer profile. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(4): 993-1018,
  65. Yee N. (2006). The demographics, motivations, and derived experiences of users of massively-multiuser online graphical environments. Presence, 15(3): 309-329,
  66. Young K.S. (1999). Internet addiction: symptoms, evaluation and treatment. In: Vande Creek L. and Jackson T., Eds., Innovation in clinical practice: a source book, 17(19-31). Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press.
  67. Zanetta Dauriat F., Zermatten A., Billieux J., Thorens G., Bondolfi G., Zuillo D. and Khazaal Y. (2011). Motivations to play specifically predict excessive involvement in MMORPGs: evidence from an online survey. European Addiction Research, 17(4): 185-189, DOI: 10.1159/000326070

Donata Tania Vergura, Beatrice Luceri, Predict excessive use of Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games: The role of social anxiety and identification with the character in "MERCATI & COMPETITIVITÀ" 4/2017, pp 19-35, DOI: 10.3280/MC2017-004002