Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Ayse Ciftci

Committee Chair

Ayse Ciftci

Committee Member 1

Heather Servaty-Seib

Committee Member 2

Carrie Wachter Morris

Committee Member 3

William Watson


Online gaming, specifically Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), has become a very popular pastime and often is the subject of scrutiny in the literature regarding problematic play. This study aimed to develop a better understanding of problematic online gaming by recruiting and interviewing MMORPG players who potentially played at problematic levels. Ten participants (9 males, 1 female) from a Mid-Western university were screened and interviewed regarding their online gaming experiences. Consensual qualitative research was used to analyze the data. Eleven domains emerged from the data analysis: (a) antecedents to involvement in online gaming, (b) gaming activity, (c) character creation, (d) functionality, (e) perception of problematic gaming, (f) mental health issues, (g) sense of accomplishment, (h) personality characteristics, (i) positive effects of playing, (j) negative effects of playing, and (k) time loss. These findings illustrate the common experiences of players who play at potentially problematic levels. The findings are also compared to previous literature regarding the components of addiction to aid in better defining problematic gaming. The implications for practice and future research are discussed.