Over a period of thirty years, video games have evolved from Pac Man to photorealistic, massively populated, three-dimensional environments. Adolescents become involved with online virtual communities (tribes, guilds, groups) and play games on a daily basis with people they have never seen in ‘real’ life. Large online games provide a virtual environment in which they have fun and can freely experiment with different identities, speak other languages, and form new social connections at the same time. Nowadays, games have developed beyond simple concepts such as ‘eat-the-yellow-dots’ in Pac Man. Gaming now includes sophisticated persistent virtual worlds (World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars), competitive team-based online shooting games (Counterstrike, Team Fortress 2), and multiuser real-time strategy games (Starcraft 2, Warcraft 3). These changes are largely driven by the rapid developments in computing power and internet access, as well as by the declining costs of consumer electronics. As a result of increased availability, more people are playing games; however, some individuals seem to be playing more as well. A 2008 press release by the market research group NPD states that: “…of the 174 million gamers who personally play games on PC/Mac or video game systems, three percent are Extreme Gamers” (NPD, 2008). Extreme gamers play an average of 45 hours per week. A press release by the same firm two years later stated that this percentage had increased. In 2010 the NPD group reported that the group of extreme gamers had grown to four percent, emphasizing that “…extreme gamers spend two full days per week playing video games” (NPD, 2010).

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H. van de Mheen (Dike)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Netherlands Organization for Health Research & Development (ZonMw), Volksbond Foundation Rotterdam,Kennisnet Foundation, Addiction Care North Netherlands, De Hoop Foundation, Novadic Kentron AddictionCare, Tactus Addiction Care, Brijder Addiction Care, and the IVO Addiction Research Institute.
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van Rooij, A.J. (2011, May 11). Online Video Game Addiction: Exploring a New Phenomenon. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/23381