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Identitätsentwicklung in MMORPGs

Eine qualitative Studie über den Einfluss von Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games auf die Identitätsentwicklung von Jugendlichen und jungen Erwachsenen

The aim of this study was to find out to what extent playing Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) can foster the identity development of teenagers and young adults so that they can learn from their In-Game experience for future life. In the highly digitalized society we live in, the Internet has become an everyday medium with utmost significance for adolescents. Among other things it offers them new ways of communicating with peers and attachment figures as well as a space in which they can experiment with identities, discover themselves and create (digital) youth cultures, e.g. in online games. The growing academic discussion about the impact of computer games, the increasing revenue of the game industry as well as the acknowledgement of computer games as a cultural asset show that this topic is academically, economically and culturally of relevance.
In order to answer the research question seven MMORPG players aged 15 to 24 were interviewed online. The findings suggest that the negative and positive consequences of playing MMORPGs have to be seen from both sites simultaneously: MMORPGs can foster the socialization of young people but they can also de-socialize them (when played excessively); they offer a digital space for escape and relaxation from daily life but this is at the same time a main cause of game addiction; finally playing MMORPGs does not only improve social skills and virtues – it encourages negative behavior (e.g. aggression) as well.