Aims Some researchers suggest that for some people, video game playing is an addictive behaviour similar to substance dependence. Our aim was to design and validate a scale to measure the problems associated with the apparently addictive use of all types of video games and video game systems, because there is no instrument at the present time that can be used for this purpose.
Design We reviewed the DSM-IV criteria for substance dependence and for pathological gambling, as well as the literature on the addictions in order to design a short scale (PVP; problem video game playing) that is quick and easy to apply.
Participants The scale was administered to 223 Spanish adolescents aged between 13 and 18 years. The study was carried out in Granada and Algeciras, Spain.
Findings Psychometric analyses show that the PVP seems to be unidimensional and has acceptable internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) at 0.69. The pattern of associations between the scale scores and alternative measures of problem play supports its construct validity (higher total scores in the scale were associated with higher frequency of play, mean and longest times per session, self and parents' perception of playing to excess, and scores in the Severity of Dependence Scale).
Conclusions Our results confirm that the excessive use of video games is associated with a number of problems which resemble a dependence syndrome, and the PVP appears as a useful instrument for the measurement of such problems.