Contextualising video game engagement and addiction in mental health: the mediating roles of coping and social support




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Peer reviewed



Introduction A challenge in defining Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is discriminating pathological gameplay from an excessive, yet benign, involvement in video games. Although previous research has explored this theoretical distinction in the context of general computing activities, it merits consideration with regards to online gaming. Additionally, whilst comorbidities of addicted gaming and mental health outcomes have been robustly demonstrated, few studies have examined the role of mediating factors that may contextualise this relationship. As such, the present study aims to validate the distinction between addiction and engagement in online gaming, by considering the mediating roles of coping and social online and offline support in mental health.

Method One hundred and thirty-five participants completed the Computer Engagement/Addiction Questionnaire (CEAS), Depression-Anxiety-Stress Scale (DASS-21), Brief Approach-Avoidance Coping Questionnaire (BACQ) and two versions of the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS).

Results Correlational analyses showed a clear distinction between gaming addiction and engagement in the context of all of depression, stress and in particular anxiety (DAS) not found in previous studies. Multiple mediation analysis showed a significant mediating effect of coping, (specifically withdrawal/resignation coping) on the relationship between video game addiction and symptoms of DAS. Offline perceived social support was a significant partial mediator in the relationship between gaming addiction and depression, as compared to any kind of online social support. The results support the distinction of the addiction and engagement concepts in gaming. This study may inform future clinical classifications of IGD, with implications on how pathological gaming is treated.


open access article


Psychology, Video game addiction, Engagement, Mental health, Coping, Perceived social support


Moge, C.E. and Romano, D.M. (2020) Contextualising video game engagement and addiction in mental health: the mediating roles of coping and social support. Heliyon, 6 (11), e05340


Research Institute

Institute of Artificial Intelligence (IAI)