The public, practitioners, and researchers often express concerns about the physical and behavioral well-being of people who play video games. Research generally fails to distinguish between people who play games and people who self-identify as gamers, so there is limited existing work on how gamer identity affects well-being. Using survey data from nearly 900 young adults collected in 2014 and 2015, this study compared people who do not play video games to self-identified gamers and other video game players on three measures of well-being: physical health, binge drinking, and aggressive behavior. Controlling for demographic factors and time spent gaming, gamers reported poorer physical health compared to non-players. Gamers were less likely to have engaged in binge drinking relative to non-players, an effect modified by self-esteem and social support. People who played games, but did not identify as gamers, did not differ from non-players on measures of well-being. There was no difference in aggressive behavior across player status. Hours played was not independently associated with measures of well-being. Supplementary analyses suggested a potential gendered relationship between player status and well-being. The study illustrated the theoretical and empirical relevance of respondent-selected gamer identity in contextualizing the purported relationship between video game play and well-being.
- binge drinking
- video games
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science