Smartphone gaming can be harmful for some seeking relief from boredom

Smartphone gaming can be harmful to gamers who video game to leave their unfavorable state of mind and sensations of boredom, a brand-new research study has actually discovered.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo discovered that bored “escape players”–those who have problem engaging with the genuine environment and sustaining attention—might look for “flow,” which is a deep and simple and easy state of concentration in an activity connected to loss of awareness of time and space.

“We found that people who experience intense boredom frequently in everyday life reported playing smartphone games to escape or alleviate these feelings of boredom,” stated Chanel Larche, research study lead author and a PhD prospect in cognitive neuroscience at Waterloo. “The issue with this boredom ‘repair’ is that they wind up playing whenever they are tired, and wind up experiencing issues connected to extreme video game play.

“During gameplay, players may achieve optimal arousal, engaged focus and attention and a reduction in feelings of monotony, but this heightened urge-to-play among escape players can have negative consequences and lead to excessive time gaming.”

Larche performed this research study with Waterloo’s cognitive neuroscience teacher Michael Dixon.

Using the popular smartphone video game Candy Crush, Larche and Dixon had 60 individuals with existing level standings in the video game in between 77 and 3307 play at numerous problem levels from too simple—which indicated there was an absence of skill-challenge balance, low circulation and low stimulation—to well balanced, which was more tough which triggered higher circulation, stimulation, less boredom and a more powerful desire to continue gameplay. This was done to figure out whether gamers would pick to continue playing a video game where there was a balance of obstacle and ability favorable to stream, instead of a simpler video game that would create less circulation.

Their results validated that people who video game to leave boredom by utilizing smartphone video games such as Candy Crush end up being more immersed in gameplay than non-escape gamers. However, when escape gamers discover these video games more fulfilling as a relief from boredom, they might play more often and for longer durations.

“Those who play to escape experience greater flow and positive affect than other players, which sets up a cycle of playing video games to elevate a depressed mood,” Dixon stated. “This is maladaptive because, although it elevates your mood, it also increases your urge to keep playing. Playing too long may lead to addiction and means less time is available for other healthier pursuits. This can actually increase your depression.”

Larche states these findings may motivate video game designers to think about carrying out accountable video gaming tools straight within their video games. For example, having a time-limit alternative to permit gamers to define the length of time they want to play might be practical for gamers prone to bothersome escape play.


Co-authored by Dixon, the research study, Winning isn’t whatever: The effect of efficiently tough smartphone video games on circulation, video game choice and people gaming to leave aversive bored states, appears in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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