Predicting Perceived Social Support and Well-Being:
The Role of Problematic MMO Play and Use
Since the advent of the Internet and especially the recent growths in social networking researchers have sought to learn about and understand problematic Internet use (PIU). In lieu of more recent studies, there is them that carries across several studies that research PIU, users that report having some sort of negative outcome tied into their Internet usage appear to be strongly drawn to the Internets interpersonal functions (i.e. social networking and social gaming) (Caplan, 2002, 2003). Much of the research done on PIU has only focused on segments of computer-based activity. To date not much research has been dedicated to the budding ‘virtual world’ that is massively multiplayer online role-playing games (termed MMO or MMORPG for short).
MMOs’ such as; Everquest, Rift, Second Life, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, World of Warcraft, etc. have become the driving force behind online computer gaming in recent years and have garnered approximately 100 million players as a whole (White, 2008) that have logged an almost immeasurable amount of hours in game over the years. MMOs’ are highly socially interactive and can at times take place of a users’ ‘real-world’ community and/or support system; interpersonal behavior and creation of in-game relationships via guilds, etc. are central elements of MMO game play. These truths make PIU research on MMOs relevant, even more so as the genre and community expands. This study examines relationships between PIU and MMO use/gameplay.
We suggest that problematic play and use in MMOs is directly linked to one’s perceived social support and wellbeing. Specifically, we hypothesize that those that play MMOs for social reasons (i.e. escapism from inept ‘real-world’ social skills) will exhibit negative outcomes related to problematic play; and conversely those that do not play MMOs as a means to garner social interaction will not exhibit negative outcomes related to problematic play.
1.2 Problematic Internet Use and Perceived Social Support
PIU is a multidimensional syndrome consisting of cognitive and behavioral symptoms that result in negative social, academic, or professional consequences (Caplan 2002, 2003). PIU is characterized by behaviors that are considered maladaptive, some examples of these behaviors include; compulsive internet use, preferring online social networking and networking as opposed to face to face interactions (Caplan, 2003), and using the Internet as maladaptive mood regulation (i.e. escapism, avoiding loneliness, inept social skills) (Caplan, 2005a). We hypothesized that individuals that exhibit these traits combined with amount of involvement playing/using MMOs will contribute to and be positively related to PIU.
PIU has also been associated with a medley of psychological disorders and behavioral that affect overall psychosocial wellbeing. Some of the disorders and...