Little is known about strategies or mechanics to improve self-regulation of video game play that could be developed into novel interventions. This study used a participatory approach with the gaming community to uncover insider knowledge about techniques to promote healthy play and prevent gaming disorder. Methods:
We used a pragmatic approach to conduct a convergent-design mixed-methods study with participants attending a science fiction and education convention. Six participants answered questions about gaming engagement and self- or game-based regulation of gaming which were then categorized into pre-determined (a priori) themes by the presenters during the presentation. The categorized themes and examples from participant responses were presented back to participants for review and discussion. Seven participants ranked their top choices of themes for each question. The rankings were analyzed using a nonparametric approach to show consensus around specific themes. Results:
Participants suggested several novel potential targets for preventive interventions including specific types of social (e.g., play with others in a group) or self-regulation processes (e.g., set timers or alarms). Suggestions for game mechanics that could help included clear break points and short missions, but loot boxes were not mentioned. Conclusions:
Our consensus development approach produced many specific suggestions that could be implemented by game developers or tested as public health interventions, such as encouraging breaks through game mechanics, alarms or other limit setting; encouraging group gaming; and discussing and supporting setting appropriate time or activity goals around gaming (e.g., three quests, one hour). As some suggestions here have not been addressed previously as potential interventions, this suggests the importance of including gamers as stakeholders in research on the prevention of gaming disorder and the promotion of healthy gaming. A large-scale, online approach using these methods with multiple stakeholder groups could make effective use of players’ in-depth knowledge and help speed discovery and translation of possible preventive interventions into practice and policy.
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