One Game – One Effect? What Playing “World of Warcraft” Means for Adolescents and Their Development

Florian Flueggen, Stephanie Doyle, Hermann Veith


Playing online computer games is a common leisure activity for adolescents. The aim of this study was to contribute to the understanding of how playing these games influences adolescents' development.

The method used was interviews with six participants who had played the Massive-Multiplayer-Online-Role-Playing-Game “World of Warcraft” when they were adolescents. The transcripts of the interviews were analyzed drawing on grounded theory methods and on factors identified from developmental psychology.

From the analysis it appeared that: (1) all six players had played the game differently and found individual ways to express themselves in the game; (2) these individual playstyles seemed to be related to the players’ personalities; and (3) in contrast to common claims in the popular media, playing the game probably supported a healthy development by providing social and personal aspects that their normal lives lacked.

The main implication of these findings is that it cannot be assumed that all players use the same game in the same way, or that one game has the same effect on all players. While it makes research on the effect of games more complex, this observation is essential in understanding the diverse influences of computer games.


computer games; adolescents; development; personality

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