The increasing popularity of online and multiplayer games has meant that for many, social interaction and cooperation are vital components of the gaming experience. Previous research has suggested that not only has this made gaming more attractive to socially oriented people but also that it may be socially beneficial in terms of social capital and prosocial behaviors. However, for problematic video game players (those showing signs of compulsive or detrimental video game use), this may not be the case, and a number of theories hold deficiencies in socializing in real life as central to the development of this issue. In the present study, an online questionnaire completed by 416 participants assessed problematic video game use, extraversion, trait empathy, online and offline social capital and prosocial tendencies. Contrary to hypotheses, non-problematic, problematic and non-gamers did not differ in empathy, extraversion or prosocial tendencies. Problematic video game play was, however, associated with significantly higher online social capital and lower offline social capital whereas non-problematic players demonstrated only higher online capital than non-players. This highlights the importance of social support but suggests personality is not an influential factor. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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