Who Plays Games Online?: The Relationship Between Gamer Personality and Online Game Use

Who Plays Games Online?: The Relationship Between Gamer Personality and Online Game Use

Ching-I Teng, Shih-Ping Jeng, Henry Ker-Chang Chang, Soushan Wu
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/jebr.2012100101
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Online games have become increasingly popular computer applications, raising the question of who plays them. Thus, the present study investigates the relationship between gamer personality and online game use as well as the potential links between online game use and gamer demographic variables. The sample consisted of 1633 Taiwanese online gamers. This study used confirmatory factor analysis to assess measurement reliability and validity. The hypotheses were tested using regression analyses. Analytical results indicated that online game use is positively related to gamer openness and agreeableness but negatively related to gamer conscientiousness and emotional stability. Moreover, being male and having a high income were associated with higher levels of online game use. The results increase the knowledge on the link between personality and online gaming behaviour.
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Online gaming has become a globally popular computer activity over the past decade. One particular online game, World of Warcraft, has 11.5 million subscribers. On average, gamers spend 25 hours per week playing online games (Griffiths, Davies, & Chappell, 2004), although some heavy gamers may spend up to 82 hours per week engaging in online game play (Longman, O’Connor, & Obst, 2009). Interestingly, gamers are likely to underestimate their time spent playing games because of their intense fascination with the activity (Tobin & Grondin, 2009). Some gamers sacrifice sleep for extra online gaming time (Griffiths et al., 2004). Consequently, the problems associated with excessive online game play indicate a need for research examining online game use.

Online games have become a popular current area of research (e.g., Teng, 2010). The gaming literature has addressed gamer characteristics such as demographics, favourite activities in games (Griffiths, Davies, & Chappell, 2004), and motives for playing games (Yee, 2006). Few studies, however, have explored the personality traits of online gamers. Teng (2008) identified personality differences between gamers and non-gamers, and Li and Yang (2005) investigated the link between personality and performance in games. However, no studies have examined the relationship between gamer personality and online game use, thereby revealing a knowledge gap in the literature. Research aimed at filling this gap is important because it improves our understanding of how individual personality affects human behaviour in an online gaming context.

The present study investigates the relationship between gamer personality and online game use. This study makes a unique contribution to the literature in several ways. First, Landers and Lounsbury (2006) investigated the link between personality and Internet use. Tosun and Lajunen (2010) then explored how personality impacts Internet relationships. The present study is in line with these works in increasing knowledge about how personality impacts online behaviour. However, because the term “Internet use” encompasses the use of various Internet applications (Landers & Lounsbury, 2006), research on overall Internet use may not be applicable to specific Internet applications; research on specific Internet applications is therefore necessary. This study is novel in that it addresses a new and popular Internet application: online games. Research on the link between personality and online game use may extend the applicability of the findings of Landers and Lounsbury (2006) and Tosun and Lajunen (2010) and encourage future research that continues to apply their findings to specific Internet applications.

Second, Correa, Hinsley, and De Zúñiga (2010) investigated the relationship between personality and social media use. Correa et al.’s (2010) findings increase our understanding of how personality facilitates online social activities. Although it is clear that social activities are favoured by online gamers (Griffiths et al., 2004), research is required to examine whether the findings of Correa et al. (2010) can be applied to the relationship between personality and online game use. Such an argument requires empirical evidence, and the present study goes a step beyond the work of Correa et al. (2010) by investigating how personality and online game use are correlated. Finally, recent gaming studies have focused on online game use. Lo, Wang, and Fang (2005) identified interpersonal relationships as a correlate of online game use. Williams, Yee, and Caplan (2008) further noted that gamer demographics (e.g., gender and age) and physical and mental health are correlates of online game use. Although these studies identified numerous correlates of online game use, the present study is unique in that it proposes and examines personality as a correlate of online game use, thereby determining novel predictors of online game use.

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