Individuals with autism may view video games as a way to deal with the negative affect and fatigue of autism

A recent study revealed why many people on the autism spectrum turn to video games as a hobby. The new findings suggest that individuals with autism spectrum conditions may play video games in order to escape reality, specifically the escape of self-suppression when experiencing negative moods and the escape of self-expansion when experiencing positive moods.

The study that appears in the journal computer in human behaviorAdds to existing knowledge about the purpose of video games for autistic people.

The authors of the new study defined escapism as “the act of shifting the focus of attention from an unpleasant reality to a pleasant unreal one.” The research examined two types of escape, self-suppression and self-expansion.

The escape self-suppression style refers to “engaging in activity, including gaming, to suppress negative emotions, considered as an avoidance strategy of discomfort related to negative affect (Stenseng et al. , 2012And 2021). “The flight of self-expansion” facilitates autonomy, competence, relationship…and harmonious, autonomous participation.

Research has found that those with autism spectrum conditions seem to be drawn to video games as an opportunity for escape and an opportunity for control. In addition, playing video games can serve as an interactive interpersonal exercise when those with autism spectrum conditions play cooperatively. Anna Peskovska and colleagues aimed to investigate the positive and negative motivations for video games in individuals with autism spectrum conditions.

Participants were recruited from neurodiversity societies in Poland. Participants were required to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, be over 18 years old and play video games for at least one hour per week. One hundred and eighty-nine individuals meet the criteria and have agreed to participate.

Participants took measures of escapism, gaming motivation, autistic fatigue, affective outcomes (a measure of typical mood), and hedonic tone (the ability to experience joy). Statistical analysis of this data revealed that those with high levels of negative affect or autistic burnout were more likely to play video games for reasons of self-suppression. In addition, repetitive behaviors, deterioration of cognitive and motor functions, failure to engage in self-care, and behaviors aimed at avoiding feelings were all associated with self-suppressing motivations for gaming.

Those who scored high on a measure of hedonic tone (or how well they were able to experience joy) were more likely to report that self-expansion was the reason behind their video game endeavors. Self-expansion as a motivator for video games was also related to the desire for mastery.

Recognized limitations include the lack of a control group. Thus, we cannot conclude that these findings are unique to play spectrum or autism conditions. In addition, the study included significantly more females (105) than males (50) or non-binary people (34), and thus, we cannot know whether gender had an effect on the results.

Despite these concerns, the research team feels their work has been a meaningful addition to what is known about gaming motivation and autism spectrum conditions. Understanding what might motivate a person with autism to spend time with video games may help practitioners determine if gaming is being used to address challenges that can be addressed and addressed in a therapeutic setting.

studying, “Determinants of escapism in adult video gamers with autism spectrum conditions: The role of affect, autistic fatigue, and play motivation.Written by Anna Peskovska, Tomas Jusior, Francesek Stefanik, and Barbara Wiszek.

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