Module 4 - Gaming Culture

Last activity on April 9, 2024

Neurodivegent Communities in Gaming

Motivation for Neurodivergent Gamers

There seems to be an increased risk for excessive gaming for young people with an Autism or ADHD diagnosis, but It’s complicated.


Escapism is a strong motivator for autistic gamers as well because of the increased risk factors and missing protective factors that we often see with this community. Have a look at the addiction equation lesson for a reminder of these factors.

There was a study done by Martin Sundberg that shared some insights when comparing two groups where one was full of autistic gamers and the other was a neurotypical group.

  • Within the autistic sample; online gamers have more friends than non-gamers.
  • Low to moderate online gaming was linked with lower perceived loneliness among autistic gamers.
  • Online gaming was not linked with having a best friend or quality of friendships.
  • Motives to play online games differed between autistic sample and control group.
  • “…Mastery of a video game by a child with autism may lead to improved self-esteem” (competence)

If autistic gamers struggle to engage with peers, gaming can help to fill that bucket part of the way, but not all the way.


We understand that people living with ADHD tend to struggle with executive functioning, which means they lack the ability to:

  • handle frustration
  • start and finish tasks
  • recall and follow multi-step directions
  • stay on track
  • self monitor
  • and balance tasks (like gaming and academic demands). 
  • Remediating the area of deficit reduces academic or work difficulties

Gamers with ADHD have a low dopamine baseline level to begin with, which can affect their desire to find it via video games. They also report that gaming can feel soothing because it makes it much easier to concentrate on something than real life does.

Pro Social Gaming

Community gaming groups can be a great way for like minded autistic kids to share a passion and develop friendships with gaming as a buffer. They also offer the opportunity to build capacity around interpersonal skills and communication. The use of cooperative games to accomplish tasks is one of the core values of any pro social gaming program.

What it offers

  • Using gaming as a vehicle for social development
  • The exposure to prosocial and cooperative gaming behaviours to establish contextually appropriate norms for modelling. 
    • Resulting in reduced antisocial/aggressive behaviour and increased empathy for other group members.
      • ex) Positive peer pressure if someone gets aggressive and the group wants calm.
  • Cooperative games to develop interpersonal skills such as communication and teamwork
  • Increasing peer relationships in the group with the aim of carrying on outside of the group
  • Transference of the behavioural modelling to online gaming scenarios.
  • Education on how to build healthy relationships with gaming.

We need to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms for our neurodivergent gaming communities

This lesson is a preview

2 Lessons