Video gaming is an activity where people use a game console, computer or mobile device to play electronic games. This is one of the most popular activities worldwide. Some experts have also linked the growing popularity of video gaming to a rise in social isolation, depression and anxiety. But others say that gaming can offer mental and physical health benefits, such as boosting brain plasticity.
Many games can be played online with other players from around the world. These can be played through a video game console, PC or smartphone and are often called multiplayer games. They can be free to play or supported by microtransactions and ads. Online multiplayer games have become increasingly popular in recent years.
The most common reason that people play video games is for enjoyment and entertainment. Some people enjoy challenging and complex games that require problem-solving skills, strategy and tactical thinking. Others prefer to play social games that involve interaction with other players. There are a wide variety of gaming experiences available, from traditional puzzle games like Tetris and Candy Crush Saga to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG).
Gaming can provide an escape from the real world into fictional, fantasy or far-off settings. Some gamers spend a lot of time with their gaming characters and have strong emotional attachments to them. Some gamers also find the gameplay itself exciting and engaging, whether it is fast-paced action or immersive story-based adventure.
Some gamers use video games as a form of self-medication to deal with stress, anxiety or depression. One participant who used gaming as a coping mechanism said that it offered him a temporary relief from negative emotions but did not address the underlying issues. He acknowledged that gaming took up valuable time that he could have spent on other healthy activities.
Other participants reported that they enjoyed gaming as a social outlet and found it enjoyable to interact with other gamers from around the world. They also liked the challenge of trying to improve their in-game status and were proud of their achievements. However, some of these same gamers admitted that excessive gaming caused them to miss out on other opportunities for social interaction and they were struggling with loneliness.
Regardless of the motivation to play video games, it is important for individuals to understand their own motivations and make informed choices about how much gaming they engage in. Understanding the reasons that people play can help them maintain moderation or shift their gaming habits if necessary. The two main themes that emerged from the interview data analysis were: gaming as meaningful and purposeful and push-pull influences on how much they play (Table 2). Verbatim quotes from interviews are presented to support these themes.