Video game playing is a popular leisure activity that has been the subject of an increasing amount of empirical research. This research has highlighted both the positive and potentially negative effects (e.g., Greenfield, DeWinstanley, Kilpatrick, & Kaye, 1994; Feng, Spence, & Pratt, 2007; Dill, 2009). The more positive benefits of video games include the fact that they can be educational (e.g., deFreitas & Griffiths, 2007; Griffiths, 2010), socially stimulating (e.g., Cole & Griffiths, 2007; Hussain & Griffiths, 2007) and/or therapeutic (e.g., Griffiths, 2005). The more negative effects of video games are the claims that they can lead to increased aggression (Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, 2007) and be addictive (e.g., Griffiths, 2000, 2008), especially online videogame playing where the game never ends and has the potential to be a 24/7 activity (e.g., Ng & Weimer-Hastings, 2005; Chappell, Eatough, Davies, & Griffiths, 2006; Grüsser, Thalemann, & Griffiths, 2007).
Today’s video games have evolved due to technological advance, resulting in high levels of realism and emotional design that include diversity, experimentation, and (perhaps in some cases) sensory overload. Furthermore, video games have been considered as fantasy triggers because they offer ‘what if’ scenarios (Baranowski, Buday, Thompson, & Baranowski, 2008). What if the player could become someone else? What if the player could inhabit an improbable world? What if the player could interact with fantasy characters or situations (Woolley, 1995)? Entertainment media content can be very effective in capturing the minds and eliciting emotions in the individual. Research about novels, films, fairy tales and television programs has shown that entertainment can generate emotions such as joy, awe, compassion, fear and anger (Oatley, 1999; Tan 1996; Valkenburg Cantor & Peeters, 2000, cited in Jansz et al., 2005). Video games also have the capacity to generate such emotions and have the capacity for players to become both immersed in, and dissociated from, the video game.