Multiplayer role-playing games no joy for those high in obsessive passion
A new study from the University of Kent has revealed that players of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as ‘World of Warcraft’ are unhappy not only when they are prevented from playing but also when they are playing.
The study, which was conducted by Dr Joachim Stoeber, Head of the University’s School of Psychology, alongside a team of students, examined the positive and negative emotions that 160 gamers experienced when playing and when prevented from playing MMORPGs.
It has long been acknowledged that two forms of passion can motivate a behaviour: harmonious passion (ie freely chosen for the pleasure derived from the activity) and obsessive passion (ie connected to extrinsic motivations such as wanting to maintain a certain status that is important to self-esteem). Across various life activities, studies have found that the two forms of passion show different relationships with emotions, linking harmonious passion to positive emotions and obsessive passion to negative emotions.
With this study, Dr Stoeber and his students have shown that gamers high in harmonious passion experience more positive emotions than gamers low in harmonious passion when playing online games. In contrast, gamers high in obsessive passion experience more negative emotions compared to gamers low in obsessive passion both when playing and when prevented from playing online games. For gamers high in obsessive passion, online games seem to bear no joy, only distress.
The findings also suggest that individual differences in harmonious and obsessive passion for gaming may explain why MMORPGs produce different effects for different people. Dr Stoeber explained: ‘Because emotions are closely related to psychological well-being and the present findings showed that harmonious and obsessive passion had unique effects on positive and negative emotions in online gaming, the present findings suggest that harmonious and obsessive passion are factors contributing to, or undermining, the psychological well-being of people involved in online gaming.’
Dr Stoeber and his team also found that craving for online gaming showed the same emotional pattern as craving for gambling, that is, positive correlations with positive and negative emotions when engaging in the activity and with negative emotions when prevented from engaging in the activity.
The findings are the first to provide empirical evidence suggesting that individual differences in craving should be taken into account when investigating the effects of harmonious and obsessive passion for activities that have the potential to be addictive such as digital gaming.
Dr Stoeber said: ‘The present findings make an important contribution to our understanding of how passion for online gaming is related to craving and emotions. In particular, they show that harmonious and obsessive passion explain variance in gaming-related emotions beyond variance explained by general emotions or craving. With this, individual differences in harmonious and obsessive passion are an important factor to help explain why online gaming has positive effects in some people and negative effects in others.’
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Entertainment : Multiplayer role-playing games