The role of gaming during difficult life experiences

Ioanna Iacovides, Elisa D. Mekler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


HCI has become increasingly interested in the use of technology during difficult life experiences. Yet despite considerable popularity, little is known about how and why people engage with games in times of personal difficulty. Based on a qualitative analysis of an online survey (N=95), our findings indicate that games offered players much needed respite from stress, supported them in dealing with their feelings, facilitated social connections, stimulated personal change and growth, and provided a lifeline in times of existential doubt. However, despite an emphasis on gaming as being able to support coping in ways other activities did not, participants also referred to games as unproductive and as an obstacle to living well. We discuss these findings in relation to both coping process and outcome, while considering tensions around the potential benefits and perceived value of gaming.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
ISBN (Electronic)9781450359702
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2019
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 May 20199 May 2019


ConferenceACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleACM CHI
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Coping
  • Difficult life experiences
  • Games
  • Sensitive life experiences


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