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It has now been over a year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting millions of infections and deaths. Under such a stressful environment, people are more easily to form negative emotions, affecting their behavior and mental health negatively. It is noticeable that online games grow rapidly and playing online games has become more popular in recently years. Understanding the impact of playing online games on gamers negative emotions is valuable and critical during this unprecedent time. This study addresses the following research question: What is the impact of playing online games on gamer’s negative emotions during the COVID-19 pandemic? We first investigated the pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of playing online games, and gamers’ compensatory behaviors in such a stressful environment. We then developed a research model and a list of hypotheses (see Figure 1) to investigate the relationship among the pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, playing online games, gamers’ compensatory behaviors and negative emotions. This study will advance the understanding of the impact of playing online games in such a special context, enrich the usage of compensatory behaviors by combining them and extending their use into online game behaviors during the pandemic. This study will also help the government and industry understand the impact of online games and gamers’ behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic, and thus help them improve regulatory policies for now as well as for the future.

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