Leveling Up: How Posters on r/StopGame Describe Video Gaming, Its Consequences, and Trying to Stop
Daues, John Gregory
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Video games are a major source of entertainment in the United States today, but they may also be understood to be addictive when considering the ways addiction involves chemicals that are naturally occurring in the human body. Video game addiction, then, might be a serious life issue. Analyzing narratives from r/StopGaming, a subreddit that “exists to help those who struggle with or have struggled with compulsive gaming or video game addiction,” I explain how posters on the subreddit describe their video gaming, the consequences of their video gaming, and the ways in which they try to stop video gaming. I conducted a qualitative content analysis and used a three-step coding process to analyze the narratives (N=100) and create categorical answers to each research question. Posters described their video gaming as an outright addiction, as a compulsion, like taking a drug, as a form of escapism, as an undefined “something” to be moderated, as something that has impacted their lifestyle, as a hobby, and as problematic enough to bring them to r/StopGaming in the first place. Posters described experiencing addiction trajectories, impacts on their lifestyle, problems with social relationships, problems with their career and academics, wasting time and money, and failing to pursue hobbies as consequences of their video gaming. To try and stop video gaming, posters tried to engage in self-improvement strategies, abstinence, moderation, hobbies, and social experiences. In light of these findings, I discuss the implications of video game addiction when considering health issues, economic issues, and family issues. I also discuss Reddit as a site for future qualitative research.