Is gaming disorder apparent amongst esports players?


Bányai, F., Griffiths, M. D., Demetrovics, Z., & Király, O. (2019). The mediating effect of motivations between psychiatric distress and gaming disorder among esport gamers and recreational gamers. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 152117.


Research examining the relationship between gaming disorder, gaming motivations, and mental health is increasing, but the types of gaming use, such as recreational gaming and esports are not commonly distinguished. The present study compared recreational gamers and esport gamers (N=4284) on a number of variables including game time, gaming motivations, severity of gaming disorder, and psychiatric symptoms. Additionally, the mediating effect of gaming motivations among esport and recreational gamers between psychiatric distress and problematic gaming was examined. Results showed that esport gamers spent significantly more time playing video games both on weekdays and weekend days than recreational gamers. Moreover, esport gamers had higher scores on social, competition, and skill development gaming motivations than recreational gamers. The mediation model demonstrated a significant positive direct and significant mediated effect via escapism (i.e., gaming excessively to avoid real life problems) between the higher levels of psychiatric distress and gaming disorder. However, esport and recreational gamers showed no significant differences in the model. The escapism motive appeared to be the common predictor of problematic gaming among both esport and recreational gamers. Future studies should focus on exploring escapism’s mechanism in different subgroups of gamers in relation to problematic gaming to help the development of prevention, intervention, and treatment programs.

The Data

Online survey of 4,284 gamers; 90% male


“esport gamers play video games more intensely than recreational gamer”

“being sociable appears to be a requirement in being successful in the esport community”

“esport gamers and recreational gamers appeared to be similar, suggesting escapism as the most powerful predictor of gaming disorder among both gamer types.”

“Esports as the professional, skill-mastering form of gaming may be considered not just a different type of video game use, but also an alternate sporting activity”

“Esports as the professional, skill-mastering form of gaming may be considered not just a different type of video game use, but also an alternate sporting activity”

Our Take on it

“Against the backdrop of the WHO identifying ‘gaming disorder’ as a new condition, this study explores whether the risks are comparably present between professional esport players and recreational gamers. There’s a lot here to digest, but of particular interest is this criterion of escapism, which is a high risk factor in developing disorder behavior. In the case of esports players though, it indicates that the pursuit of escapism may be a completely different construct compared with leisure gamers. This is a great study and helps clarify risk points for gaming behavior, which can certainly help in planning systems of support for players” Professor Andy Miah

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: