(HealthDay News) – The level of psychological involvement in gaming determines the measure of a player’s perceived social support, according to a study published in the current issue of Society & Leisure.

Noting that video gaming has been associated with negative outcomes such as social isolation, Benjamin Hickerson, PhD, and Andrew J. Mowen, PhD, from the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, examined the association of behavioral and psychological involvement in video gaming with perceived friend-based social support. Participants included 141 video gamers who reported playing multiplayer first-person shooter games, and who completed a brief questionnaire concerning video game behavior and attitudes and perceived friend-based social support.

The researchers observed no correlation between behavioral involvement, such as time spent playing video games and dollars spent, and perceived social support. There was a varied relationship between psychological (enduring) involvement with video games and the measure of social support. Higher levels of social support were perceived by those gamers who believed video gaming to be a forum for social bonding, while positive social support levels were less likely to be reported by those gamers who seemed to centralize their lives around gaming.

“Behavioral markers of video game participation may be useful for describing how gamers participate, but may do less to explain benefits or consequences,” the authors write. “Especially in the social context, games may psychologically shape their gaming experiences around relationships resulting in greater friend-based social support as well as other potentially healthy social outcomes. This indicates that not all video game play is socially isolating.”

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