The habit of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs): A phenomenological analysis of bodily self-perception in gaming addiction

Marsia Santa Barbera, Willem Ferdinand Geradus Haselager


Abstract: We investigate the role played by bodily self-perception and social self-presentation in addiction to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). In this paper we will develop the hypothesis that, at least in some cases, the habit of role-playing can be interpreted as a response to gamers’ need to explore a different bodily self-identity. Players tend to become deeply involved in this kind of game, especially in the character identity creation process. Participants might see and seek reflections of their desired selves in their avatars. We suggest that in some cases gaming can be considered an addiction associated with self-perception, social acceptance, and body-image distortion. We explore how the phenomenological duality of body (Leib and Körper) can be useful for analyzing the creation of game identities preferred by players. On the basis of this analysis, we sketch some therapeutic suggestions, combining aspect from two specific therapies: Internet Addiction-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (IA-CBT) and Body Image Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (BI-CBT). We hope these suggested approaches will be of value to gaming addiction specialists.

Keywords: MMORPGs; Leib/Körper; Bodily Self-perception; Game Identity; Addiction


L’abitudine ai giochi di ruolo in rete multigiocatore di massa (MMORPGs): una analisi fenomenologica della percezione corporea di sé nella dipendenza da gioco

Riassunto: Intendiamo indagare il ruolo svolto dalla percezione corporea di sé e dalla autopresentazione sociale nella dipendenza da gioco di ruolo in rete multigiocatore di massa (MMORPGs). In questo lavoro illustreremo l’ipotesi per cui, quantomeno in alcuni casi, la disposizione al gioco di ruolo può essere interpretata come risposta al bisogno dei giocatori di esplorare una diversa identità corporea di sé. Chi partecipa a questo tipo di gioco tende a un coinvolgimento profondo, specialmente nel processo di creazione dell’identità caratteristica. I partecipanti possono vedere e cercare riflessi dei loro sé desiderati nei loro avatar. Noi suggeriamo che in alcuni casi il gioco può essere considerato una dipendenza associata alla percezione di sé, alla accettazione sociale e alla distorsione della immagine corporea. Esploreremo come la dualità fenomenologica tra corpo vissuto e corpo (Leib and Körper) possa essere utile per analizzare la creazione delle identità di gioco preferite dai giocatori. Su questa base offriremo alcuni suggerimenti terapeutici, combinando aspetti tratti da due terapie specifiche: la Internet Addiction-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (IA-CBT) e la Body Image Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (BI-CBT). Auspichiamo che questi approcci possano essere validi per chi lavora nel campo della dipendenza da gioco.

Parole chiave: MMORPGs; Leib/Körper; Percezione corporea di sé; Identità di gioco; Dipendenza

Parole chiave

MMORPGs; Leib/Körper; Bodily Self-perception; Game Identity; Addiction

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