Gaming motivation and problematic video gaming: The role of needs frustration

Devin J. Mills, Marina Milyavskaya, Nancy L. Heath, Jeffrey L. Derevensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Motivation is often used as a predictor of a problematic style of video game engagement, implying that individuals' gaming undermines optimal functioning. Drawing from recent advances in Self-Determination Theory (SDT), the present study explores the links between gaming motivations, the daily frustration of basic psychological needs, and reports of problematic video gaming (PVG). A sample of 1029 participants (72.8% male; M = 22.96 years; SD = 4.13 years) completed items regarding their gaming engagement and gaming motivation as well as their experience of needs frustration and PVG symptoms. Results revealed positive associations between gaming motivations and PVG, and between daily needs frustration and PVG. Finally, after comparing several competing models, a mediational model whereby needs frustration explained the association between individuals' gaming motivation and PVG emerged as best fitting the data. The discussion addresses the theoretical and practical implications of these findings in the context of recent research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-559
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Self-Determination Theory
  • basic needs
  • gaming
  • gaming disorder
  • motivation


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