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The use of internet games has soared in the last few years with the market for online games growing from $770 million in 1988 to $2.06 billion in 2001, and is expected to reach $29 billion by 2016. Market leaders are the so called ‘Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games’ (MMORPGs). Two central characteristics of MMORPGs are that a large numbers of players play together in a single game and that this game’s virtual world stays in existence when the individual user disconnects. In addition, MMORPGs have no natural end point of playing content, as for example one final battle. Rather, the users can continue to play endlessly. The most widely played MMORPG is World of Warcraft® (WoW) from Blizzard Entertainment©, which 2010 was played by more than 12 million users worldwide. In parallel to the growth in revenues, there has been an increase in the number of people who seek counselling for their online gaming and who report that they experience negative consequences of the gaming for their well-being. Compared to players of other computer games, MMORPG players spend more time playing, report worse health and sleep quality, more often develop overuse and report more depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem, as well as more withdrawal and anxiety. They also report more interference with offline social life and academic work. High frequency game play is associated with increased anxiety and depression. A third of German 15-year-old male players spend over 4.5 hours playing WoW each day, and about a fifth were classified as “dependent” on gaming, or prone to such a dependency in a large study investigating a representative sample (n=44.610) by Rehbein et al. (The Compulsive Internet Use Scale (CIUS) Adapted to Assess Excessive Multiplayer Gaming Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Antonia Barke)
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Last date updated on July, 2014

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