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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 148-150

Reasons for playing online games among females: A case report based evidence

1 Department of Clinical Psychology, SHUT Clinic (Service for Healthy Use of Technology), National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Clinical Psychology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Nursing, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication22-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Manoj Kumar Sharma
SHUT Clinic (Service for Healthy Use of Technology), National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmhhb.jmhhb_52_19

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The online gaming has not been a well -researched area among females. The female gamers also have a preference for violent games. A 17-year-old female pursuing secondary education, belonging to a single child nuclear family presented with complaints of playing online games, increased expression of anger, decline in academics, and decreased social interaction. The case demonstrated that feeling of achievement, escapism, distraction, and developing social ties were the predominant motives to play games among females. The case also reflected the issues of emotional dyscontrol which were secondary to the nonavailability of opportunity to play. The case implies for enhancing understanding the process issues of gaming behaviors among females, cross-cultural knowledge, as well as for screening and formulating preventive strategies.

Keywords: Female, gaming, reasons

How to cite this article:
Sharma MK, Anand N, Suma N, Thakur PC, Sahu M, John N, Tadpatrikar A, Singh P, Ajith S J, Biswas A, Archana R, Vishwakarma A, Murthy KD. Reasons for playing online games among females: A case report based evidence. J Mental Health Hum Behav 2019;24:148-50

How to cite this URL:
Sharma MK, Anand N, Suma N, Thakur PC, Sahu M, John N, Tadpatrikar A, Singh P, Ajith S J, Biswas A, Archana R, Vishwakarma A, Murthy KD. Reasons for playing online games among females: A case report based evidence. J Mental Health Hum Behav [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Dec 2];24:148-50. Available from: https://www.jmhhb.org/text.asp?2019/24/2/148/290519

  Introduction Top

The female gamers are not frequent treatment seekers in treatment settings in comparison to males. The gender difference has been witnessed not only for treatment-seeking behaviors but also for their reasons to play online games. The female gamers who play online games such as massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) were found to have low self-esteem, use games as a modality to feel good, seek feeling of achievement by defeating others, and enhancing of social ties with other gamers through online chatting.[1],[2] The indulgence in online gaming also provides an opportunity to enhance one's self-image through interaction as well as acknowledgment of playing skills received from others.[3] The similar trend has been seen among the Western female gamers who also look for competition or success and appreciation through competition,[4],[5] whereas male gamers play to primarily pass the free time, manage stress, and feel good.[4] The female gamers also play all varieties of video games and also showed a preference for games with violent content.[6] The preference for gaming was found to be associated with achievement and social needs, identification with avatar, hostility, and negative body image.[6] The present case consulted for the management of gaming and increased expression of anger. It is the first reported case of a female gamer who presented to our tertiary specialty clinic. The present case will enhance understanding about the behavioral factors related to online gaming among females. It will provide further insight into the Internet gaming disorder (IGD).

  Case Report Top

A 17-year-old female pursuing secondary education, belonging to a single child nuclear family, presented with complaints of playing online games, increased anger expression, decline in academic, and decreased social interaction for the past 15 months. She got access to technology devices from the age of 12 years for academic purpose. She gradually started using technology devices for accessing social media, online shows, and listening to music. She was spending 3–4 h per day for accessing online activities. Her mother was reported to be critical toward her technology use, whereas father was submissive for her technology use. The family used to have negative interactions secondary to her excessive use of technology and decline in academic performance. She reported the use of technology to manage stress, feel good, and distract herself from negative comments of family members. She got introduced to online games through friends. She gradually started spending 6–7 h a day on online gaming. The motive to play games were (i) feeling of achievement, i.e. “She recalled where male players appreciated her playing skills,” “She liked the thrill of playing these games and to defeat male players,” “Thrill of playing games associated with male players,” and “She also won skin and other rewards, which maintained her motivation to play;” (ii) escapism and distraction method – “She started playing more to forget, avoid or distract from environmental stressors;” and (iii) Social ties – “She was able to interact with other gamers who were male;” she did not have offline friends. Online playing of games led to loss of grades, decreased interaction with family members, avoidance of family outings, sleep disturbance, and behavioral change in the form of increased frequency of anger expression. The expression of anger occurred secondary to getting disturbed while playing and when criticized for her player-related issues with her player group. Clinical interview revealed the presence of preoccupation with online games, loss of control of playing games, as well as the desire to play despite knowing the dysfunctions occurring as secondary to online gaming for the past 12 months. She met the criteria of gaming disorder as per the International Classification of Disease-11[7] criteria for gaming disorder. There was no history of playing offline games. Psychological assessment using the Rosenberg self-esteem questionnaire revealed the presence of low self-esteem. Caregiver burden was present in father. The therapy sessions were offered for bringing lifestyle changes, behavioral management of anger in the user, cognitive evaluation, and restructuring of online gaming beliefs and systemic family work.

  Discussion Top

The present case shows the presence of problematic online gaming among a female, its association with low self-esteem, lack of friendships, need for achievement, and escapism. Similar motives were seen among male gamers in the form of social competition, coping, escape, and avoidance behaviors.[1],[8],[9] In another study, female gamers opted for playing puzzles, adventure, and fighting games. It also indicated that females also appreciate challenging and high emotional arousal in games. However, males preferred to play first-person shooter (FPS) games, role-playing games, sports, and strategy games which indicate that the need for experiencing greater novelty, risk, aggression, and emotional arousal is higher than those of females.[10] These findings about males were supported with research which indicates that males have higher skills in the domains of visual-spatial abilities including localization, orientation, mental rotation, and target-directed motor skill which support the fulfillment of such needs.[10] In addition, they have a higher need to consume aggression and have a greater risk-taking appetite as well.[10]

The female players who played Internet games, i.e., MOBA games, MMORPG, and FPS games, also showed the achievement and social motivations, embodied the presence and identification with the avatar, hostility, and social phobia together with negative body image.[6] The female gamers were reported to be more aggressive when playing against male players,[11] whereas in males, hostility[12],[13] and social phobia[14] were observed among those addicted to only MMORPGs, and there were significantly fewer concerns related to body image.

In terms of affective difficulties, depression was seen more among female gamers.[15] It implies that gaming was used as a method of coping. The gaming-related cues elicited higher craving in males. The males also showed greater activation in the striatum, orbitofrontal cortex, and inferior frontal cortex. The males demonstrated greater activation in the medial frontal gyrus and bilateral middle temporal gyri after having a gaming session.[16] When they were evaluated for pre–post comparison, male gamers demonstrated greater thalamic activation than did female gamers.[16]

The IGD was predicted by several variables along with gender differences. It included time spent online, gaming motives, and depressive symptoms. For female gamers, IGD predictors included higher time spent online and higher scores on specific gaming motives (i.e., escape and competition), together with significant depressive symptoms, in comparison with male gamers, whose IGD predictors had two types of motives to play online video games, i.e., escape and coping together with higher depressive symptoms than females. The coping was found to be a predictor among men, whereas competition was a factor for women.[4] In another quantitative study on female gaming, female gamers who played online video games also reported spending more time on role-playing games, MMORPGs, FPS games, simulation games, action-adventure games, casual games, and MOBA games.[6] Overall, achievement and social motivations were predictors of IGD and daily time spent online.[6]

In the prevailing perspective, online video games are primarily viewed as an activity associated with males.[17] Female gamers are usually not viewed as someone with appreciable skills and thus are not given higher status and perceived as having lower competence than male gamers.[18] In addition, it has been observed that lower ranking online gamers, new online gamers, and female online gamers usually receive hostile reactions and critical remarks from male gamers.[19],[20] There are higher chances that male online gamers are more likely to perpetrate cyberbullying in comparison to female online gamers. Thus, female gamers on most occasions prefer to speak minimally to male gamers as it can lead to the initiation of negative interaction or critical remarks.[21] At this point of time, the evidence for the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for problematic online gamers is evolving.[6],[22],[23],[24],[25] However, a majority of this research is done with samples of male problematic online gamers. As of now, there is case study-based evidence that clinicians are encountering and treating with increasing frequency problematic female online gamers.[6]

It appears that there is a high likelihood that online gaming will continue to grow among female users as online gaming appears to address a number of their psychological needs in the short term. The female gamers who in certain aspects appear to be similar to their male counterparts in their motivations, affective difficulties, and neural responses may in the near future will likely present to treatment centers for their psychopathology related to their gaming behaviors. Even mental health professionals believe that this condition remains unnoticed in a number of females. Thus, there is a need to continue with research on the psychological functioning of female online gamers which will help to contribute to research knowledge on psychological variables, processes involved in female online gaming behaviors, create awareness about cross-cultural findings, and help in formulating strategies for screening and intervention for problematic online gaming among females.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form, the patient has given her consent for her images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patient understands that her name and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.


We acknowledge the support of the Department of Health Research, ICMR, Delhi, India, that awarded the grant to Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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Wang HR, Cho H, Kim DJ. Prevalence and correlates of comorbid depression in a nonclinical online sample with DSM-5 internet gaming disorder. J Affect Disord 2018;226:1-5.  Back to cited text no. 15
Dong G, Wang L, Du X, Potenza MN. Gender-related differences in neural responses to gaming cues before and after gaming: Implications for gender-specific vulnerabilities to Internet gaming disorder. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 2018;13:1203-14.  Back to cited text no. 16
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