Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Kim VanDerLinden

Second Supervisor

Ed Engelbride

Third Supervisor

B. Evan Blaine


More than 80 million people in the United States play online video games, and this prevalent form of entertainment has enabled players from various geographic settings to interact in highly complex and realistic virtual worlds. However, despite the popularity of online gaming and the evolution of a socially oriented culture, the rapid growth of the industry has raised concerns among parents, educators, clinicians, and the general public about the potential consequences of online gaming. The proposal to classify Internet gaming disorder as a behavioral addiction has produced considerable debate as to whether the classification is empirically justified. Evidence suggests that problematic online gaming cannot be measured using addiction criteria because of its inability to distinguish problematic usage from high levels of healthy engagement. The purpose of this study was to explore an alternative, non-addiction approach that would minimize the risk of pathologizing healthy gaming behaviors. A systematic review and random-effects meta-analysis was conducted to measure the relationships between player motivations and gaming-related problems. Results indicated that escapism and advancement were strongly associated with gaming-related problems. Teamwork and discovery were found to be unassociated with gaming-related problems. Implications regarding the complexity of the escapism construct, the need for a deeper understanding of advancement, the relevance of motivations that are unassociated with problems, and methodological issues within the literature are discussed. Recommendations for researchers, parents, gamers, clinicians, policy makers, and executive leaders are also provided.

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