The mediating effect of motivations between psychiatric distress and gaming disorder among esport gamers and recreational gamers

F. Bányai, Mark D. Griffiths, Z. Demetrovics, Orsolya Király

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Research examining the relationship between gaming disorder, gaming motivations, and mental health is increasing, but the types of gaming use, such as recreational gaming and esports are not commonly distinguished. The present study compared recreational gamers and esport gamers (N = 4284) on a number of variables including game time, gaming motivations, severity of gaming disorder, and psychiatric symptoms. Additionally, the mediating effect of gaming motivations among esport and recreational gamers between psychiatric distress and problematic gaming was examined. Results showed that esport gamers spent significantly more time playing video games both on weekdays and weekend days than recreational gamers. Moreover, esport gamers had higher scores on social, competition, and skill development gaming motivations than recreational gamers. The mediation model demonstrated a significant positive direct and significant mediated effect via escapism (i.e., gaming excessively to avoid real life problems) between the higher levels of psychiatric distress and gaming disorder. However, esport and recreational gamers showed no significant differences in the model. The escapism motive appeared to be the common predictor of problematic gaming among both esport and recreational gamers. Future studies should focus on exploring escapism's mechanism in different subgroups of gamers in relation to problematic gaming to help the development of prevention, intervention, and treatment programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152117
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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