Australian Research Finds Gaming Addicts Aren't "Shy Nerds"

Australian Research Finds Gaming Addicts Aren't "Shy Nerds"

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A researcher in Australia has found that so-called "videogame addicts" are typically not shy nerds, but are as outgoing and social as everyone else.

Dan Loton of Victoria University conducted an honors research project into the connection between videogame addiction and social skills, but determined there was no direct connection between "problem game-playing" and social skills and self-esteem, with only one percent of those classified as addicts reported as suffering from shyness. "From a clinical point of view, an addiction is a mental illness with very serious consequences," Loton said in a News.com.au report. "In this context, we need to ask whether gaming is responsible for causing people's lives to fall apart in the same way we see with gambling, alcohol or drug addiction."

The American Medical Association described MMOG players last year as "somewhat marginalized socially, perhaps experiencing high levels of emotional loneliness and/or difficulty with real-life social interactions." The report said the AMA plans to recognize videogame addiction as a mental disorder beginning in 2012.

"There have been some concerns in psychological literature, including the AMA report, that excessive game-playing... is related to difficulty in establishing social relationships and maintaining them," Loton said. "It was theorized that people who have social difficulties are turning to games, particularly games that offer social communication, to alleviate those difficulties and [are] therefore getting stuck in the game."

Loton's study looked at 621 gamers, measured across the Problem Videogame Playing (PVP) and Social Skills Inventory (SSI) scales to measure their level of addiction as well as their social behaviors. Roughly 15 percent of respondents were identified as problem gamers, spending more than 50 hours per week playing videogames, with MMOG players more likely to suffer from addiction. No clear link between problem gaming and social or self-esteem issues was established, Loton said.

"What is important to note is that even problem gamers did not exhibit significant signs of poor social skills or low self-esteem," he said. "Only one percent of those identified as problem gamers appeared to have poor social skills, specifically shyness." He added that more research was required before the AMA could make an "informed decision" about the classification of problem gaming as an addiction, and also suggested that people who play games excessively find other activities to help balance their lives. "If a person feels that they're at the point where they feel that they want to stop playing but they can't and it's interrupting elements of their lives, I would advise them to seek counseling," he said.

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That's very surprising actually. I think further study is required, particularly into motivational issues concerning work, getting a girlfriend and keeping your livingspace inhabitable.

On this level it compares to your average pothead I think.

Malygris:
Problem Videogame Playing (PVP)

PvP hey. I hope they know what PvP also refers too.

I don't think that because you spend time playing games you suddenly become a shy person or that shy people often play games. The stereotype that gamers are shy was created (like all stereotypes) by a lack of understanding of what drives people to play games. I am a little bit confused as to how you may test "shyness" however. If the study had the gamers interacting with each other then they would have all shared a common interest and had something to talk about, however I don't think that the same thing would have happend if they paired the gamers with people that they shared nothing in common with..

Well, good. Another survey proving that misconceptions against gamers are false. Now maybe Jack Thompson and his ilk will start listening...

True, gaming addicts aren't anti-social, they are more than social! They're "stfu u fucking noob!"-social : D

I don't think you suffer more damage to your social skills by playing games too much than you do from simply being alone for similar periods of time. Less even probably. But once you have to interact with people in general it will probably be harder.

I am not sure if I buy this. Claiming all hardcore gamers are antisocial is unfair and definately untrue. But that there would be no relation at all seems very unlikely to me. Playing a MMO to gain the social contact that you lack "IRL" seems like a moderately common reason.

I am not sure if I buy this. Claiming all hardcore gamers are antisocial is unfair and definately untrue. But that there would be no relation at all seems very unlikely to me. Playing a MMO to gain the social contact that you lack "IRL" seems like a moderately common reason.

That's odd i started playing my first MMO with friends from real life.

sammyfreak:
I am not sure if I buy this. Claiming all hardcore gamers are antisocial is unfair and definately untrue. But that there would be no relation at all seems very unlikely to me. Playing a MMO to gain the social contact that you lack "IRL" seems like a moderately common reason.

I'm not trying to sound like some know-it-all prick, but do you play MMO's? Do you talk to people who play MMO's? The only reason I ask is because it seems like you're making your assumptions from a rather limited source of information. I'm sorry if I'm wrong.

Video games are widely considered to be fun, particularly by the people who play them. By the same token, there are lots of people who enjoy Tennis. I'd be fairly confident in assuming that most Tennis players would rather play Tennis with another person than play by themselves in their bedroom. Does this mean Tennis players are socially inept and cling to the sport to feed their desire for social contact? I know I don't think of Tennis players that way.

Honestly, online gaming existed long before MMO's ever hit the scene. They even precluded online FPS games. I have a strong suspicion that the recent cropping up of this perception that people turn to online video games to counter their social ineptness exists as the result of a combination of stereotypes, namely MMO players all being addicts, gamers in general being anti-social or otherwise socially inept, and MMO players craving the "alternate reality" offered to escape their own (generally viewed as sad) reality.

MMO's can probably considered addictive. Alcohol, for some people, can also be addictive. If you see someone with a beer in their hand, you don't assume they are an alcoholic. Why is it, then, that as soon as someone sits in front of an MMO, they are an addict? I think it has a lot to do with the other stereotypes. If we have an anti-social person who wants to escape their pathetic and lonely life by associating with other people online because they are unable to handle these social situations in person, of course they are going to spend a large quantity of time in front of the computer screen. The funny thing is, especially with the growing popularity of sites like Myspace and Facebook, we are seeing that people who ARE socially capable are spending time online talking to people, and even going so far as to meet new people online first. It makes sense. Interacting with people online still requires being capable of interacting with a human being. Admittedly, it takes away some of the anxiety, but the idea that the average video game player starts wheezing and breaks out in hives when someone talks to them is pure unadulterated bigotry. It's pretty tough to get through life without being capable of social interaction.

As far as the idea of gamers being more comfortable around other gamers that a previous poster made reference to:

If the study had the gamers interacting with each other then they would have all shared a common interest and had something to talk about, however I don't think that the same thing would have happend if they paired the gamers with people that they shared nothing in common with.

I fail to see the point. If you took that same group of gamers and stuck a big sports enthusiast in the middle of them, I suspect he or she would feel a little out of place as well. That isn't to say that they couldn't find a topic of mutual discussion. There are quite a few gamers, myself included, who are also interested in sports.

There's also a problem with the definition of "social ineptness". Not deciding to engage in a conversation with someone and not being capable of engaging in said conversation are two completely different things. As mentioned above, most gamers are more than willing to (and in fact jump at the chance to) discuss video game related topics. It's pretty unlikely that I would feel obligated to contribute to a conversation discussing the exports of Russia in the 16th century. That doesn't make me socially inept.

I'll leave with this question: People who like playing Tennis play Tennis. People who like writing write. People who like painting paint. People who like video games are probably going to play video games. Why does their choosing to play video games with other people rather than by themselves indicate a lack of social skills?

Well, basically, from what I gather from this study, people who play games don't do so to seperate themselves from human interaction.

In fact, gaming is, by nature, a community. Wether it be FPS, MMO's or multiplayer in general, games encourage people to talk to each other, interact with each other, and have a good time. Isn't that social behavior. Sure, you can't always see the person that you are shooting at, but you can't see a person when texting, and is that considered anti-social, no.

Well that's it from me.

Dectilon:
True, gaming addicts aren't anti-social, they are more than social! They're "stfu u fucking noob!"-social : D

I don't think you suffer more damage to your social skills by playing games too much than you do from simply being alone for similar periods of time. Less even probably. But once you have to interact with people in general it will probably be harder.

True, I mean, you could spend the same time reading and have even -less- interaction that playing online. Not that reading is bad of course. :D

Okay, so, bascially the article is saying, although researchers had previously made statements or implications to the effect that gaming addicts were: people who turn to games to lessen their social difficulties in related to people 'irl'. Right?

Then, this article goes on to say that this has been found to be more or less the opposite, in that gaming addicts tend to be rather social. So, I guess then, is gaming addiction an inability to moderate one's time with other activities?

Now, I go into a 'special snowflake' piece, only if because I can explain my thoughts better by commenting on my own experiences heh.

So, in real life, I don't...interact, that is, I have almost extreme trouble in converstion with anyone. An inability to express my feelings, thoughts etc. in any realistic way. Hell, I can't even make eye contact. These, are related to my diagnosed mental..difficulties, which I won't go into since I'll end up off topic. Anyway, for me, the internet really is my only outlet. It was either that or the drugs, and I really wasn't keen on the drugs.
Now, as such, I finished shcool, gone through college, I have a job at the moment which I enjoy. Nearly all my social, and entertainment time is spent either online or playing games online or otherwise, I read too, and watch dvds. But I don't go out.

However, I do not consider the above a sad and lonely existence. True, the people I interact with are behind a screen sometimes hundreds of miles away, but, I don't consider them less as people just because of this, and certainly as not 'irl'. These are, essentially the same people who, if I were to meet on the street I would stammer at and try and break off the conversation as quickly as possible. But, with the internet, I can choose those people to converse with that I know share the same, or some of the same interests as my own.

Having said that though, I think, that as addiction, a person would not simply not interact with others, but rather, come to a state whereby their physcial and emotional health begins to be damaged. Or, I don't think simply shutting oneself in ones room and playing/being online consistenly counts as addiction, but rather when it comes to such a time where you will stop eating or sleeping etc. Or don't excercise your body and mind with other activities.
So, someone can still have a gaming addiction even when they -are- interacting with other people as the article says, you don't have to be a 'lonely'.

Playing a MMO to gain the social contact that you lack "IRL" seems like a moderately common reason.

Depends a lot. If you're unable to form social contacts easily (Wheelchair bound, agoraphobic etc.) then perhaps, but I know of MANY MMO's that have player meets where the people you meet are a sound bunch of people.

Like most things,it has it's die-hards, but then I'd rather be grinding than watching fecking Big Brother or Eastenders.

Among my non-gamer friends at least, I'm the most outgoing one of us.

"Nerds" aren't antisocial untill other people make them so. I've worked together with a few people for quite some time ad i had ablsolutely no problems socializing. Then there was a conversation about gaming and i mentioned that i play wow. From that moment on everybody there treated me like some form of lower lifeform incapable of regular communication and was immediatly dumped from the group in favor of an armchair footballer who spent more time taking about his favourite team every day then i talked about any game in my entire time there.

Games can and 99% of the time do co-exist with pretty much any other pasttime or job. It goes wrong when some other factor rejects and condemns the existance of games and thereby makes taking to that person and anybody related to him impossible or unpleasant. If this happens too often and it does, the victim is eventualy pidgeonholed to the only thing that doesn't reject him based on prejudice about his other actions alone and becomes afraid on doing anything else because the people there are being assholes.

There are also a few cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which already is it's own problem and applies to everything related to it and not just games.

Asehujiko:
From that moment on everybody there treated me like some form of lower lifeform incapable of regular communication and was immediatly dumped from the group in favor of an armchair footballer who spent more time taking about his favourite team every day then i talked about any game in my entire time there.

Wow, you hang out in front of some real dicks. I mean... uh, well, you know, they...you... gah, it wasn't very nice of them to orchestrate you just because you play WOW. I've played a bit of it, and it's not bad, though not something I'd get into.

Anyways, I've never really had a problem with me being a gamer. Hell, I've told girls that I play games (it cropped up in the conversation) and, well, we really haven't talked about it since... but, they still talk to me like they talked to me before. And in my school, people I'm close to know I game, and they really don't mind.

So, I 'spose it's who you hang out with.

Jack is having his lawyers licencse revoked for being such a poop.

It's true, the only link I have to the story though is in German.

Edit: woops, wanted to quote stompy's first post

Asehujiko:
From that moment on everybody there treated me like some form of lower lifeform incapable of regular communication and was immediatly dumped from the group in favor of an armchair footballer who spent more time taking about his favourite team every day then i talked about any game in my entire time there.

Okaaaaay...that's incredibly illogical. I think perhaps you're better off not hanging out with them if they'd do something like that because they made some assumptions that go against their previous experience. I mean, they knew you already and socialized with you for a while, but suddenly one mention of WoW makes them ditch their positive view of you in favor of some unreal cliche? That doesn't even make sense!

As for the main topic of conversation: Science once again confirms my view of reality. Most excellent.

Hi All,

This is Dan Loton, I conducted the study. Was happy to see it in The Escapist.

Just in case anyone is interested the full thesis is available at my web site - www.computergameresearch.com. All critical feedback is welcome (but please read the thesis first).

Just to respond to some comments, it's often the job of scientific research to test whether common-sense beliefs hold true, so it may seem to some that the study confirms the obvious, but if you read the literature review in the thesis you'll see that Psychological research had actually taken a direction indicating gamers (and particularly extreme gamers whose play represents addiction) may be attracted to games due to emotional or social difficulties and/or games may cause social deficiencies, as emphasized by the AMA report resulting from their lit review (they hadn't done their own research yet just reviewed what's available).

I'm glad I was able to have some input into the gamer community.

Cheers,
Dan.

Fire Daemon:

Malygris:
Problem Videogame Playing (PVP)

PvP hey. I hope they know what PvP also refers too.

Yeah, it results in PvE, Problem Videogame Exhaustion :P

 

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