Impulsivity in Multiplayer Online Battle Arena Gamers: Preliminary Results on Experimental and Self-Report Measures

J Behav Addict. 2016 Jun;5(2):351-6. doi: 10.1556/2006.5.2016.028. Epub 2016 May 9.


Background and aims Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games have become the most popular type of video games played worldwide, superseding the playing of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games and First-Person Shooter games. However, empirical studies focusing on the use and abuse of MOBA games are still very limited, particularly regarding impulsivity, which is an indicator of addictive states but has not yet been explored in MOBA games. In this context, the objective of the present study is to explore the associations between impulsivity and symptoms of addictive use of MOBA games in a sample of highly involved League of Legends (LoL, currently the most popular MOBA game) gamers. Methods Thirty-six LoL gamers were recruited and completed both experimental (Single Key Impulsivity Paradigm) and self-reported impulsivity assessments (s-UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale), in addition to an assessment of problematic video game use (Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire). Results Results showed links between impulsivity-related constructs and signs of excessive MOBA game involvement. Findings indicated that impaired ability to postpone rewards in an experimental laboratory task was strongly related to problematic patterns of MOBA game involvement. Although less consistent, several associations were also found between self-reported impulsivity traits and signs of excessive MOBA game involvement. Conclusions Despite these results are preliminary and based upon a small (self-selected) sample, the present study highlights potential psychological factors related to the addictive use of MOBA games.

Keywords: Internet Gaming Disorder; Internet addiction; Multiplayer Online Battle Arena; delay discounting; impulsivity; videogame addiction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Delay Discounting
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior*
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychological Tests
  • Self Report
  • Social Behavior
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

Funding sources: JB has received funding from the European Commission for Research on the problematic usage of information and communication technology (Tech Use Disorders; Grant ID: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF-627999). PM (research associate) is funded by the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS, Belgium). MDG has received funding for a number of research projects in the area of gambling education for youth, social responsibility in gambling, and gambling treatment from the Responsibility in Gambling Trust, a charitable body who funds its research program based on donations from the gambling industry. No conflict of interest exists for DJK.