Problematic video game use as an emotional coping strategy: Evidence from a sample of MMORPG gamers

J Behav Addict. 2019 Mar 1;8(1):25-34. doi: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.02. Epub 2019 Feb 11.


Background: A positive relationship between problematic gaming and escapism motivation to play video games has been well established, suggesting that problematic gaming may result from attempts to deal with negative emotions. However, to date, no study has examined how emotion dysregulation affects both escapism motives and problematic gaming patterns.

Methods: Difficulties in emotion regulation, escapism, and problematic involvement with video games were assessed in a sample of 390 World of Warcraft players. A structural equation modeling framework was used to test the hypothesis that escapism mediates the relationship between emotion dysregulation and problematic gaming.

Results: Statistical analyses showed that difficulties in emotion regulation predicted both escapism motives and problematic gaming, and that escapism partially mediated this relationship.

Conclusion: Our findings support the view that problematic players are likely to escape in online games as a maladaptive coping strategy for dealing with adverse emotional experiences.

Keywords: Internet gaming disorder; MMORPG; emotion regulation; escapism; gaming disorder; problematic gaming.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology*
  • Aged
  • Behavior, Addictive / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Video Games*
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

Funding sources: No financial support was received for this study.