Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

Bruner,Gordon

Abstract

While much has been written and said about consumer addiction to digital technology in the media, little academic research has actually been conducted on post-purchase technology consumption and its negative impact on consumer welfare. This dissertation takes an important step in this direction by examining the technology believed to have the highest addiction potential - online video games. Massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs), such as World of Warcraft, have been described by users and popular press as "heroinware" and "maddeningly addictive." This study investigates the drivers behind the consumer abuse of gaming technologies, the root causes of their gaming addiction with respect to the user as well as the specific technology characteristics in the context of MMORPGs. It is hypothesized that the pleasure of control, the perceived fluidity of identity in the online environment, as well as certain gamer motivations (achievement, social, escape) are the main causes of gamemania. However, whether excessive gaming becomes addiction also depends upon the consumers' self-regulation mechanisms. Most of the hypotheses were supported except for those related to pleasure of control. Somewhat unexpected, the relationship between amount of gaming and gaming addiction propensity was found to be very weak. Moreover, an interesting finding was the negative effect of a social motivation on dysfunctional gaming.

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