This study investigated relationships between problem video game playing, self-esteem and social skills in an adult sample. Via the internet, 621 (560 male) primarily Australian participants completed three scales: the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the multidimensional Social Skills Inventory and Problem Video Game Playing Scale. Hypotheses were: that problem video game playing would be related to social skills and self esteem; that time spent playing online games would be related to social skills; and that social skills and self esteem would predict problematic play. Online game time commitment was not significantly related to social skills or self esteem, suggesting online environments are not distinctly socially enriching or erosive. Resonating with past studies that found links between gaming, introversion, and social anxiety, a pattern of significant (p < .001) correlations emerged between 3 social skills subscales, together representing social hesitancy, and problem video game playing; however the magnitude of relationships was minute. To explore whether problematic play is impelled by social difficulties, a multiple regression analysis was used to predict problematic playing scores with scores on the social skills and self esteem scales. A significant model was found: F (9, 611) = 15.051, p < .001, accounting for 16.9% of variance. Time commitment (β = .314, p < .001), one social skill subscale (β = .184, p < .001) and self esteem (β = -.103, p = .03) emerged as significant predictors. Results suggest a very small proportion of problematic play is related to social skills and self esteem, but considering the magnitude of relationships, other factors may better explain problematic play. More broadly, this study aligns with others that found little negative consequences of problematic or dependant electronic game play. Further analyses included a comparison of game genre choice on important variables, finding players who preferred Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games had significantly higher problematic play scores, time commitment and age than other genres. Contrary to past studies, males did not show significantly higher time commitment, although the gender discrepancy in participants suggests electronic gaming is still a male-dominated arena.
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