Prevention approaches to problem gaming: A large-scale qualitative investigation

Matthew W.R. Stevens, Paul H. Delfabbro, Daniel L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Prevention and harm minimization approaches to problem gaming have become a matter of growing public health interest, following the recognition of gaming disorder and hazardous gaming in the ICD-11. The present study was the first to gather firsthand accounts of the potential options and challenges for prevention approaches among regular and problematic gamers. An online survey of 992 adult gamers (N = 221 problem gamers) yielded 1987 text responses to open-ended questions. Qualitative analysis of 53,458 words extracted 9 subcategories. Participants believed that some gaming activities were inherently riskier than others, particularly those with ‘predatory’ in-game spending features (microtransactions) that resemble or facilitate electronic gambling. Some participants supported the introduction of in-game features that might facilitate greater self-monitoring and awareness (e.g., education, playing time notifications, limit-setting). Some participants believed that the gaming industry should proactively support and/or fund prevention schemes and share its player data for the purpose of independent health-focused research. These results highlight some of the complexities in developing population-level approaches to problem gaming, and anticipate some of the practical barriers to gaining support from stakeholders, including the industry and the gaming community. Future research should examine the effectiveness and feasibility of voluntary primary prevention measures in real-world settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106611
Number of pages8
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Addiction
  • Gaming disorder
  • Prevention
  • Problem gaming
  • Qualitative


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