Internet gaming addiction refers to the prolonged engagement in internet games that has negative clinical consequences which include psychopathology, abnormal social behavior, and reduced mental performance. Feng, Ramo, Chan, & Bourgeois (2017) noted that there had been an upward trend in the statistics of gaming addicts between 1998 and 2016, a problem that has become worrying. A point of concession in literature is that this problem is likely to impact negatively on the society, mainly due to its contribution to an increase in psychopathological behavior. Sigerson, Li, Cheung, & Cheng (2017) have put the problem into perspective by expressing that the consequences of internet gaming addiction are worse than those that arise from non-technology based gaming. This echoes the research by Stockdale & Coyne (2017) that provided that internet gaming deters mental, physical, and emotional wellness of addicts. Worse still, internet gaming addiction leads to an increase in violence, due to the nature of the games that often foster criminal behavior.
One of the aspects of gaming that should be considered for its understanding is the cultural context of gaming communities (Kuss, 2013). Nowadays, the bulk of research on the topic of online and offline gaming culture is growing. For instance, Snodgrass et al. (2016) mention that addictive behaviors can be influenced by cultural and social factors. As a result, gaming addiction should be viewed as a complex phenomenon, and its cultural component should be paid sufficient attention. Indeed, the specifics of the beliefs and practices that are approved of and promoted by the gaming culture can affect the behaviors and well-being of the members of the community (Gray, Buyukozturk, & Hill, 2017; Chess & Shaw, 2015). However, the problem of gaming addiction is rarely viewed within its cultural context (Kuss, 2013). The proposed research intends to rectify this issue.
While gaming addiction is a problem that is far-fetched reflecting back to the war against problematic gambling, internet gaming addiction has become more prevalent than any other non-technology based addictions. As Carlisle et al., (2016) argues, the connection of more than 206 million people to high-speed internet is bound to intensify the problem of internet gaming disorder. By designing a qualitative research, it is possible to expose the problem of internet gaming from multiple perspectives, including the cultural one. Considering that internet gaming disorder is documented as a condition for further study in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, this research topic is worth a doctoral level study. Besides, there appears weakness in research due to the fact that most scholars have treated online and offline video games as similar while there is a possibility the level of addiction may vary between the two types of games (Laconi, Pirès, & Chabrol, 2017). An analysis of the two cultures does not appear to have been conducted, which highlights the potential value of the proposed study.
From the problem statement, it is apparent that online and offline gaming culture requires additional study. This research will seek to explore this area through a comparative approach. The primary objective of the research will be to identify the specifics of the culture of online-video gaming and offline-video gaming with attention paid to the aspects that might affect addiction. This objective will be subdivided into more specific objectives to narrow the scope of this research. First, the research will seek to identify the specific features that appear to characterize the culture of online and offline gaming communities. The main requirement for this objective is to determine the elements of culture that will be examined. For the time being, it is proposed to consider the shared beliefs and promoted practices since they are expected to modify the behaviors of community members (Kuss, 2013). Secondly, the research will investigate the attributes that might potentially affect addiction levels. Finally, the findings for the online and offline games will be compared to determine if any meaningful differences in the cultures can be found. Through these specific objectives, this research will contribute to the reduction of the literature gap that has treated online and offline video games as identical and avoided the topic of the cultural contributors to addiction.
The following research questions will direct the research process:
- What beliefs and practices characterize the culture of online games?
- What beliefs and practices characterize the culture of offline games?
- Can the discovered beliefs and practices potentially affect addiction?
- Do the two types of gaming culture reveal any meaningful differences in their beliefs and practices?
- Can these differences have varied impact on addiction development?
An Overview of Research Methodology
The research will take a qualitative approach due to the inherent nature of the field. Indeed, while the quantitative methodology is also an option, culture, including its beliefs and practices, benefits from qualitative investigations (Barker, 2016). Some of the approaches to the methodology include the study of textual evidence and the experiences of the members of the studied community. For example, Chess & Shaw (2015) analyze narratives employing specific frameworks (in particular, conspiracy theories). On the other hand, Eklund (2015) uses individual and focus group interviews. Similarly, one of the methods employed by Snodgrass et al. (2016) in their multimethod ethnographic research is interviews that were analyzed with the help of the grounded theory approach. These methods are applicable to the proposed research.
The population and Sample
The population and sample of any research refer to the subject of the research process. The sample population refers to as the portion of the population that is taken for the study. The determination of an appropriate sample for a qualitative investigation is typically guided by saturation and resource-related constraints (Fusch & Ness, 2015). For instance, Snodgrass et al. (2016) explain that they used quota sampling to ensure the representation of all the groups they were interested in (specifics guilds in an online game) and to manage the limited time that was allocated to the study. Eklund (2015) also aimed to ensure the representativeness of their sample with respect to different genders and ages. However, the authors do not directly state that they have achieved saturation, which can be viewed as a weakness of the studies. The selection of an appropriate sample significantly influences the ability to collect desired information, which is why it is important to strive to reach data saturation.
Steps of data collection and Protection of human subjects, and data analysis
Data collection refers to the approach used in gathering information from the sample population while data analysis refers to the processing of the information so collected to make meaningful inferences. The methods that were employed for data collection in the study by Snodgrass et al. (2016) included observation, semi-structured interviewing, and surveys. The authors used the grounded theory approach to analyze the themes present in the collected data. To protect the participants, the authors used informed consent forms. Eklund (2015) also employed several types of data collection methods, including individual interviews, pair interviews, and focus group discussions; the data was processed with the help of thematic analysis. The author mentions that the participants were provided with all the necessary information about the study, which ensured their protection.
Issues of trustworthiness within Qualitative Research
Trustworthiness in qualitative research requires that the research passes the test of credibility, confirmability, transferability, and dependability (Patton, 2014). In other words, the findings of any research must be truthful, applicable to similar situations, objective, and repeatable. Maxwell (1992) warns that there is a challenge in validating qualitative data, unlike quantitative information that is more objective. However, in qualitative research, objectivity is predominantly connected to the lack of researcher bias. This feature can be achieved, for example, by recruiting multiple researchers, which results in increased confirmability as exemplified by Snodgrass et al. (2016). Snodgrass et al. (2016) also employed several data collection methods, which increased the credibility of their work, and described their methodology in detail, facilitating its replication and ensuring its dependability. As for transferability, Eklund (2015), for example, offers specific conclusions that provide a detailed description of the populations that the findings might be describing. As a result, the study can be viewed as transferable to the specific populations.
What applies to my Hypothetical Study?
To achieve the purpose of this research, a qualitative research design will be engaged. As found in the analysis of the work of Feng et al. (2017), a qualitative study is applicable in collecting information where findings largely depend on the opinions of the respondents. For this research, a qualitative approach will be designed to investigate the cultural specifics of online and offline gaming by collecting relevant textual and experiential data to determine the features that might affect addiction.
The population and Sample
The population for this research will include all video game players who belong to online or offline gaming communities. The sampling process is likely to employ quota sampling to ensure the representation of online and offline gamers. Therefore, the methodology selected by Snodgrass et al. (2016) is applicable to the proposed study. Also, it will be essential to apply the required inclusion criteria to enhance accuracy. The inclusion criteria will involve persons who use either online or offline video games regularly. It is not necessary to recruit addicted persons; instead, the focus will be on the persons who view themselves as parts of the respective communities.
Steps of data collection and Protection of human subjects, and data analysis
The use of multiple data collection methods seems to be a useful approach to developing a high-quality (credible) culture-related research as shown by Eklund (2015) and Snodgrass et al. (2016). The proposed study intends to employ the analysis of textual evidence and individual interviews to gather the data on the potential areas of interest (that is, the beliefs and practices of online and offline gaming communities). The data will then be reexamined through open focus group discussion. If conducted correctly, the latter approach is especially helpful in achieving data saturation and ensuring the trustworthiness of collected information (Fusch & Ness, 2015). The data will be categorized into two categories, those addicted to online gaming, and those addicted to offline games. Graneheim & Lundman (2004) notes that categorization allows for easy analysis of information. Further categorization will include identification of specific cultural features; thematic analysis used by Eklund (2015) will be employed to process the information. The protection of human subjects will be done with the help of informed consent as in the above-mentioned studies and anonymity.
Issues of Trustworthiness in the Research
All the aspects of trustworthiness are of importance for the proposed study. It will provide a detailed description of the studied population and relevant context for transferability, employ triangulation for improved objectivity and credibility, and ensure dependability by discussing the methodology used. To an extent, these features were mentioned in the reviewed studies. Also, the proposed research will employ the recommendations pertinent to its methodology, for example, on the process of ensuring saturation and the appropriate management of focus group discussions.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Study
The strength of this investigation lies in its ability to use a qualitative approach that is most relevant in researching information that largely depends on the opinions of the subjects. By guaranteeing its trustworthiness, this research will be useful in ensuring that the information obtained is reliable. Also, the research will contribute data to a relatively understudied area of knowledge, which is a major advantage. Finally, the study will protect its participants, focusing on the relevant ethical considerations.
A disadvantage of the proposed research is its inability to assess the relationships between cultural factors and addiction, which would require quantitative investigation. However, the study will prepare the qualitative insights and understanding of the phenomenon of gaming culture that are necessary for such assessments. Also, the reliance of this research on opinions to measure the level of addiction may subject it to erroneous conclusions. However, by ensuring the trustworthiness of the findings, the study will minimize this issue. Finally, the challenge of participant protection can be rather significant for the study because the topic of addiction is sensitive. As a result, the informed consent form needs to ensure voluntary participation, and the research design must guarantee anonymity.
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