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Title: The place of self-esteem and social life in interactive virtual gaming : a mixed-methods investigation into the lived experience of Pokémon Go players
Author: Rasqui, S.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 1184
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2019
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Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) has been incorporated in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11; June, 2018) following extensive research indicating that virtual gaming is addictive for many. Maladaptive play affects players' social relationships and self-esteem in particular, and can lead to other mental health conditions. Meanwhile, Pokémon Go (PG) was launched in 2016 as a unique game that leads players to venture outside to catch Pokémon characters on mobile devices, encouraging interactions with others. Various writers assert that PG can deliver mental health benefits - although this has not yet been confirmed by substantive evidence. This study examined the perceptions and experiences of playing PG, from the perspectives of players themselves, emphasising any changes they may have experienced in their self-esteem and social lives as a result, while exploring its potential for maladaptive play. A mixed-methods approach was adopted, involving an online survey with over 100 PG players to establish player profiles and perceived changes since playing, using standardised scales and open-ended items, and semi-structured interviews with six players (examined using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)). The survey found that PG enhanced players' social lives more than other games, though no change was measured in self-esteem and quality of social life from before playing (reported retrospectively) to the time of study. Most players indicated that PG was an active entertainment that improved social life, wellbeing and self-concept. The IPA found three superordinate themes: Social gains encapsulated players' sense of being 'a collective' facilitating social interaction towards starting/strengthening relationships in a 'blurred' PG reality, where the real self had novel experiences. Psychological gains included improved mood, social skills and confidence, interpreted as greater self-esteem, through others' recognition and achievement of goals, and increased activity, exploration or learning. Undesirable consequences included issues tied to the game (technological) or play (boredom, hazards) and its impact on work or relationships through compulsive play. While Counselling Psychologists may explore the game as a novel tool to help clients with social or relational difficulties, they should be mindful of its propensity to be addictive for individuals prone to pathological gaming with symptoms similar to IGD. More research is required to understand the factors associated with interactive games, with a particular focus on players themselves, as they explain their personal experiences (both positive and negative) of extensive game play.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.Couns.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral