The Integrated Model of (Dys-) Functionality: Reconstructing Patterns of Gaming as Self-Medication in Biographical Interviews with Video Game Addicts

Paula Bleckmann, Nadine Jukschat


We aim to build a new theory of highly committed problematic video gaming based on rich qualitative data and to compare it to existing theories. To do this, we used hermeneutic analytical methods and grounded theory methodology to analyze 125 hours of recording from 42 biographical interviews, 23 of them with long-term follow-up. Participants were addicted (ex-) gamers according to screening instruments, aged 16 to 44, 29 males and 13 females.

The integrated (dys-) functionality model shows in-game behavior of participants to be dysfunctional in that it hinders advancement in several distinguishable real-life biographical quests (for success, for belonging, and for autonomy) and at the same time functional in that it matches these quests. The model integrates two seemingly irreconcilable research traditions: The addiction/disease model in medical-psychological research investigates dysfunctionality of gaming in pathological gamers. Game studies focus on functionality of in-game behavior and establish gamer typologies based on gaming motives. By adding the biographical context to game studies, but keeping the gamer's perspective, we show that gamers whose lives become dominated by gaming may know what they want and "virtually" get it, but still not "really" get it in the long term. "Compensatory" gaming does not, thus, equal unproblematic or "non-addicted" gaming.



Internet gaming disorder; video game addiction; grounded theory methodology; qualitative interviews; functionality of addictive gaming

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Copyright (c) 2015 Nadine Jukschat, Paula Bleckmann

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