Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Between a Troll and a Hard Place: The Demand Framework’s Answer to One of Gaming’s Biggest Problems

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Abstract:  The demand framework is commonly used by game scholars to develop new and innovative ways to improve the gaming experience. However, the present article aims to expand this framework and apply it to problematic gaming, also known as trolling. Although still a relatively new field, research into trolling has exploded within the past ten years. However, the vast majority of these studies are descriptive in nature. The present article marries theory and trolling research by closely examining interdisciplinary empirical evidence from a single platform—video games—and applying the various forms of demands to propose a testable, dual-route model of trolling behaviour. Within the video game context, I argue the presence of two primary causal mechanisms that can lead to trolling: 1) Demand imbalance between players and the game; and 2) demand imbalance between players. The article discusses how these two types of imbalance can lead to trolling, which kinds of demands can be imbalanced, and how future researchers can use the demand framework to expand our understanding of trolling.

Keywords:  demand imbalance; flow theory; motivations; multiplayer online games; trolling


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© Christine L. Cook. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.