Recognizing problem video game use

Guy Porter, Vladan Starcevic*, David Berle, Pauline Fenech

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


Objectves: It has been increasingly recognized that some people develop problem video game use, defined here as excessive use of video games resulting in various negative psychosocial and/or physical consequences. The main objectives of the present study were to identify individuals with problem video game use and compare them with those without problem video game use on several variables.

Method: An international, anonymous online survey was conducted, using a questionnaire with provisional criteria for problem video game use, which the authors have developed. These criteria reflect the crucial features of problem video game use: preoccupation with and loss of control over playing video games and multiple adverse consequences of this activity.

Results: A total of 1945 survey participants completed the survey. Respondents who were identified as problem video game users (n = 156, 8.0%) differed significantly from others (n = 1789) on variables that provided independent, preliminary validation of the provisional criteria for problem video game use. They played longer than planned and with greater frequency, and more often played even though they did not want to and despite believing that they should not do it. Problem video game users were more likely to play certain online role-playing games, found it easier to meet people online, had fewer friends in real life, and more often reported excessive caffeine consumption.

Conclusions: People with problem video game use can be identified by means of a questionnaire and on the basis of the present provisional criteria, which require further validation. These findings have implications for recognition of problem video game users among individuals, especially adolescents, who present to mental health services. Mental health professionals need to acknowledge the public health significance of the multiple negative consequences of problem video game use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-128
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • addiction
  • computer
  • game
  • Internet
  • video


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