Background: Gaming disorder was included in the latest revision of the International Classification of Diseases (11th ed.). Worldwide, prevalence estimates of gaming disorder are considerably heterogeneous and often appear to be exceedingly high. However, few studies have examined the methodological, cultural and/or demographic factors that might explain this phenomenon. This review employed meta-analytic techniques to compute the worldwide-pooled prevalence of gaming disorder and evaluate the potential contributing factors for varied prevalence estimates.
Method: Prevalence estimates were extracted from 53 studies conducted between 2009 and 2019, which included 226,247 participants across 17 different countries. Study findings were meta-analyzed using a random-effects model. Subgroup and moderator analyses examined potential sources of heterogeneity, including assessment tool and cut-off, participant age and gender, sample size and type, study region, and year of data collection.
Results: The worldwide prevalence of gaming disorder was 3.05% (confidence interval: [2.38, 3.91]); this figure was adjusted to 1.96% [0.19, 17.12] when considering only studies that met more stringent sampling criteria (e.g. stratified random sampling). However, these estimates were associated with significant variability. The choice of screening tool accounted for 77% of the variance, with the Lemmens Internet gaming disorder-9, Gaming Addiction Identification Test and Problematic Videogame Playing scales associated with the highest estimates. Adolescent samples, lower cut-off scores and smaller sample size were significant predictors of higher prevalence. Gaming disorder rates were approximately 2.5:1 in favor of males compared to females.
Conclusion: The worldwide prevalence of gaming disorder appears to be comparable to obsessive-compulsive disorder and some substance-related addictions, but lower than compulsive buying and higher than problem gambling. Gaming disorder prevalence rates appear to be inflated by methodological characteristics, particularly measurement and sampling issues.
Keywords: Gaming disorder; ICD-11; addiction; meta-analysis; prevalence; video game.