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Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Oct;12(5):563-6. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2009.0001.

The effect of social support derived from World of Warcraft on negative psychological symptoms.

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School of Psychology & Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Previous research examining players of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) suggests that players form meaningful relationships with each other. Other research indicates that people may derive social support from online sources, and this social support has been associated with greater well-being. This study used an online survey of players (N = 206) of the MMOG World of Warcraft (WoW) to examine if social support can be derived from MMOGs and to examine its relationship with negative psychological symptoms. Players of WoW were found to derive social support from playing and a positive relationship was found between game engagement and levels of in-game social support. Higher levels of in-game social support were associated with fewer negative psychological symptoms, although this effect was not maintained after accounting for social support derived from the offline sources. Additionally, a small subsample of players (n = 21) who played for 44 to 82 hours per week (M = 63.33) was identified. These players had significantly lower levels of offline social support and higher levels of negative symptoms compared to the rest of the sample. This study provides evidence that social support can be derived from MMOGs and the associated potential to promote well-being but also highlights the potential harm from spending excessive hours playing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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