Diversion drives and superlative soldiers: Gaming as coping practice among military personnel and veterans

Jaime Banks, John G. Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Existing scholarship highlights the clinical utility of digital games in reducing stress-related pathologies among military personnel. However, since many servicemembers experience service-related stress but do not meet clinical treatment benchmarks, it is prudent to understand how everyday gameplay may function in self-directed coping associated with physical and psychological stressors. To that end, US military and veteran gamers (MVGs) were surveyed regarding their use of digital games and avatars to deal with service-related challenges. Exploratory multi-method analysis revealed that a substantial proportion of MVGs engage in self-directed coping through digital games. Coping practices variably focus on escapism/diversion, managing physical/psychological maladies, receiving social support, and connecting with civilian life; these coping practices were differently associated with broader gameplay motivations. Additional evidence suggests that military-related avatars may function as institutional identity exemplars in stress-coping related to identity negotiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGame Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Combat
  • Coping
  • Escapism
  • Identity
  • Military
  • Motivations
  • Stress
  • Veteran
  • Video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics


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