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Running Head: Online Game Addiction

Perception of and Addiction to Online Games as a Function of Personality Traits

Searle Huh
University of Southern California
Nicholas David Bowman
Michigan State University

Online Publication Date: April 26, 2008
Journal of Media Psychology, V 13, No. 2, Spring, 2008


With the growing popularity of online video games, there have been anecdotal reports suggesting that these games are highly addictive, with some gamers spending in excess of 40 to 50 hours per week playing. Thus, research into the individual characteristics that lead to excessive play is warranted. This paper examines two individual variables – personality and perceptions of media – and explores how they relate to online game play, specifically online game addiction. By presenting a revised metric for online game addiction, this paper explores the relationship between addiction and both personality and perception. Online addiction is presented in this paper as a process addiction with four unique factors: perceived social sanctions, excessive play, uncontrollable play, and displacement. Both personality and perception are found to be significantly associated with online game addiction. These results are interpreted and discussed, and future research direction is suggested.

Keywords: online game addiction, Big Five personality traits, media perception, MMOs Perception and Addiction of Online Games as a Function of Personality Traits Computer games as a leisure activity have become an ever-increasing part of many young people’s day-to-day lives (Griffiths & Davis, 2005; Durkin, 2006). More recently, with the rapid diffusion of broadband Internet services and high-end graphic cards for computers and console systems, online video games – games played over certain online networks (primarily the Internet) – have become more popular and attractive than ever before (Sherry & Bowman, in press). According to a white paper from the Korea Game Industry Agency (2007), the world market for online video games increased from $ 2.1 billion in 2003 to $ 5.7 billion in 2006, representing a nearly three times market increase in less than half a decade. A recent AC Nielsen study reported that, of the 65 million active online gamers, over 15 million are over the age of 45 (as cited by Gonsalves, 2006), and over 64 percent – almost two-thirds – are female (as cited by Klepek, 2006). The same report found that, of the leisure time available to adolescents (about 55 hours per week), nearly 25 percent of this time was spent with video games (as cited by PRNewswire, 2006). In short, online gaming has swiftly emerged as a popular and successful source of entertainment and play for people of all ages. The majority of video game research has focused on perceived negative effects of video game play due to the content of the games, as social scientists have focused their efforts on investigating the proposed relationship between violent content and aggressive outcomes (Anderson & Bushman, 2001; Calvert & Tan, 1994; Jansz, 2005; Sherry, 2001a). Although online games often contain similar acts of violence, recent anecdotal evidence has suggested another negative behavioral effect that these games may pose, that of addiction. The Washington Post reports that, in 2005, at least 10 people in Korea died as a result of excessive game play, including one man who was found dead in an Internet café after allegedly playing for over 50 hours with few breaks (Khazan, 2006). Stories such as these have raised concerns from government agencies and citizens groups, who wish to better understand the dynamics of online game play, especially those variables that lead to online game addiction. The present study investigates the potential for personality traits – which have been shown to significantly predict media use patterns – to similarly predict individual’s perceptions of and dependency on online video games. Attributes of...
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