“I Can't Do It by Myself”: An IPA of Clients Seeking Psychotherapy for Their MMORPG Addiction

“I Can't Do It by Myself”: An IPA of Clients Seeking Psychotherapy for Their MMORPG Addiction

Daria Joanna Kuss (Nottingham Trent University, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8595-6.ch006
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The addiction to Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) is a contemporary phenomenon which emerges against the background of the dissolution of traditional communities. The individuals who participate in these games seek sociability and find a variety of options to partake in social life online. For a number of players, their engagement may take on addictive qualities, as characterised by symptoms similar to substance-related addictions. These symptoms include craving, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms as well as significant impairments in different areas of the individuals' lives. The aim of this chapter is to provide a qualitative account of how the fascination with playing MMORPGs can turn into addiction as experienced by clients seeking help in a specialized outpatient treatment centre in Germany. Moreover, it addresses their therapy motivation as indicated by their contemplation about and preparation for action. Five clients are interviewed and the results are analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Implications are discussed.
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People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, exchange knowledge, share emotional support, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, find friends and lose them, play games, flirt, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk. People in virtual communities do just about everything people do in real life, but we leave our bodies behind. (…) To the millions who have been drawn into it, the richness and vitality of computer-linked cultures is attractive, even addictive. (Rheingold, 1993, p. 17).



Traditionally, addiction has been associated with dependence on a particular substance, such as alcohol or recreational drugs (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). However, the intake of a substance is not necessary for addiction as behaviours, such as pathological gambling or gambling disorder has now been included as behavioural addiction in the recent fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5), paving the way for the inclusion of other behavioural addictions, such as Internet and gaming addiction. Accordingly, similar brain circuitries are activated and altered in both substance-related and behavioural addictions (Kuss & Griffiths, 2012a). The clinical and scientific demand for a new diagnostic category is high and Internet Gaming Disorder has now been included in the appendix of the DSM-5 among diagnoses which require additional research (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). This certifies the significance of implementing a new diagnosis, which must be targeted by scientific investigations in more breadth and depth.

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