Video game addiction

An interesting study quoted here.

This study is for youths under their parents control, but I think it’s an interesting article. The relevant and interesting part to me:

Symptoms included spending increasing amounts of time and money on video games to feel the same level of excitement; irritability or restlessness when play is scaled back; escaping problems through play; skipping chores or homework to spend more time at the controller; lying about the length of playing time; and stealing games or money to play more.

I can honestly say I’ve done some of those, but I think it’s more general … for instance I’ve played games to avoid conflict or veg out (escaping problems, I suppose), but not in any real or systemic way. I’ve definitely slacked off on things I needed to do around the house or blew things off to play games.


Symptoms included spending increasing amounts of time and money on video games to feel the same level of excitement

This part is just idiocy designed to make it sound like a drug addiction.

The only troubling thing on that list is stealing. I think every kid has probably lied to his parents about how long he’s played a game, particularly if his parents are trying to restrict his play time. It sounds like they tried to shoe horn addictive behaviors for alcohol and drugs onto kids playing games. That’s pretty nonsensical to me. There’s nothing inherently bad or destructive about playing games, so most of the described behaviors are pretty harmless in that context, as opposed to when applied to alcohol and drug use. It makes even less sense to apply those factors to kids under parental control where that relationship is always somewhat at odds in terms of eeking out more time for leisure activities versus doing chores, homework, etc.

I don’t know. I’ve definitely postponed chores to play a game I liked. However, I’ve also postponed chores to go for a walk, read a book, go see a movie or watch TV. Basically anything that’s more fun than chores…

Oh nooo, I’m addicted to work.

  • Increasing amount of time spent at work to feel the same level of excitement for it.
  • Putting off Chores and games in order to go to work.

“In what is described as the first nationally representative study in the United States on the subject, researcher Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University found that 8.5 percent of American youths ages 8 to 18 who play video games show multiple signs of behavioral addiction”

I can completely believe that a small section of the gaming masses would show classic signs of addiction. So don’t all freak out about it. 8.5% seems quite small to me, certainly not a number the anti-games lobby can make a mountain out of(although i’m sure they will try!).

I think the violence issue is a bigger problem for the games industry as a whole, in terms of getting mom amd pop on our side.

When I was a kid, I exhibited some of the same characteristics with regards to reading.

Nobody seems to have a problem with reading addiction …

I hate modern science reporting.

In none of the articles I checked could I find the study methodology detailed to a degree that I could evaluate the merit of the conclusions, but from what I’ve read, it sounds like this dude Gentile added a few questions to a survey that a number of children of various ages took and interpreted their results. The obvious weakness here is that the data is going to be self-reported - he hasn’t done anything even remotely clinical to verify his findings. The study suggests that it might be possible to develop addictive behaviors (“pathological play”) around video games, which I don’t think anybody would have questioned. I’ll be more interested to hear what results he gets when he does something more, you know, SCIENCE-DRIVEN to test for legitimate results.

It’s also interesting to learn that Gentile was one of three co-authors of this book, suggesting some other possible preconceived notions on his part, though that’s not necessarily a reason to reject the study as a whole.

I’m skeptical.

Me too. I was an obsessive reader in middle school (moslty fantasy and Stephen King novels) and spent basically all my free time reading. I’m sure that had I spent a comparitive amount of time playing my NES my parents would have intervened. Guess it’s OK to check out as long as it is in a way that society deems healthy.

I notice I mostly get irritable and addicted if I start getting into a multiplayer game. With most singleplayer PC games I can take a week off and barely blink, though I do appreciate a nice game or two at that point.

I’m not “freaking out” about anything. It’s just sorta dumb to use the exact same conditions to indicate video game addiction as those use to characterize alcohol or drug addiction. Most of the things listed there are fine because games are inherently destructive and aren’t illegal. I mean, avoiding chores to veg-out with a game isn’t exactly terrible behavior. More work would have to be done to get some conditions that actually make sense in the context of game addiction. Conditions that signify some serious injury to the addicted person and not just stuff that most kids do because games are fun and chores suck.

It might have been misleading to simply quote some of the things that article mentions, but if you add things such as:

  • Has work or school ever suffered because of playing videogames?
  • Have personal relationships ever suffered from playing videogames?
  • Is playing videogames a source of interpersonal conflict in your life?

And other classic “addiction” questions. I’d be curious to see the whole study to, or others like it. I can totally believe that addiction to gaming is similar to addiction to gambling, as it probably stimulates the same pleasure centers in the brain.

It’s an outlier and not indicative as a whole, but certainly the few people who have keeled over in S. Korea after massive internet gaming sessions were addicted.

I escape problems through games, movies, music, and books. Also, drugs.

Symptoms included spending increasing amounts of time and money on video games to feel the same level of excitement; irritability or restlessness when play is scaled back; escaping problems through play; skipping chores or homework to spend more time at the controller; lying about the length of playing time; and stealing games or money to play more.

Sounds like being a teenager with respect to anything a teenager likes doing.

I’d actually be a little shocked in that case. My colloquial experience is that gamers are not gamblers because gaming and gambling play out as completely different experiences. While both involve rules, winning, and losing, gaming is a pastime where skill and talent improve your chances to win and make you better able to perform the task. When I win at a game, I do not feel like something lucky or fortunate happened - I feel much the same as if I had just finished building a house or installing a French Drain or any other task involving a lot of effort. Gambling, on the other hand, is impossible to win by definition in all but a couple of cases (you can win at Blackjack, but only by doing things that will get you thrown out of the casino, and you can win at poker, but the house skim guarantees that you need to be REALLY good) and when you succeed, you feel as though something incredible and fortunate has happened to you, like turning the corner and running into an attractive single member of whatever sex you like to sex who absolutely loves your Big Daddy shirt or finding a million dollars in small unmarked bills under a park bench. Most of the gamers that I’ve seen comment on the topic reject gambling because they don’t like feeling out of control in the way that, say, Craps will make you feel out of control (despite the fact that it’s tied with Blackjack for the best odds in the casino for the player).

Given those facts, the actual chemistry of any potential game addiction would be incredibly interesting to examine. If it exists in any genuine sense. This study, unfortunately, is far too vulnerable to operator guidance and poor controls for me to take it as anything more than a vague suggestion that it might be something to look into.

Sure, many of these things have happened to me. It doesn’t mean an addiction. Its not like if it can happen to me one time then I am forever cursed, as with alcoholism or other addictions.

And lets be serious, this can be said about many things.

Also, I can quit any time I want …

I think I’m more addicted to Qt3 than I am to actually playing games. Damn addictive tapirs.

Yeah me too…like i’ve only been playing Xcom for over a decade now…but i can stop anytime i want i’m sure.

Gaming rarely stimulates the math / problem solving side of my brain. And when it does i sometimes find it frustrating because it either feels arbitrary, dependent on other factors to solve (like vision, trying to see something small and obscure in the gameworld), out of place in the game; or i’m just getting old and lazy. I think gaming is, by and large, much more about Simon Says than ad hoc problem solving. Sports games may be slightly the exception.

OTOH, many of the old school RPGs of the days of yore required brute force memorization of maps, routes, locations, characters, conversations, ect., that engaged the memory functions much more than today. With auto-quest/travel/everything, RPGs require much less input from the player as far as memory and problem solving go.