An Australian study has concluded that roughly eight percent of videogamers may be suffering from some form of addiction.
Conducted by the Psychological Medicine Department at Sydney's Nepean Hospital, the study looked at nearly 2000 gamers, ages 14 and up, and found that 156 of them "appeared to have a problem." MMOG players are the most likely to suffer from addiction; gamers who have lost control of their hobby are more likely to play them, have few real friends and drink more caffeine. "For a significant number, escape into virtual reality becomes a compelling experience worth sacrificing considerable periods of time as well as real-world activities and responsibilities," according to the study, which was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.
Indications of a gaming addiction include playing longer than originally planned or indulging in games "despite knowing one should not do it." Interestingly, however, the stereotypical gamer - young, single males - proved to be no more susceptible to addiction than women, middle-aged and married people.
The study listed eight "problem indicators":
- Recurrent thoughts and urges about playing
- Restlessness and irritability when not playing
- Repeated unsuccessful attempts to cut back
- Studies or work negatively affected
- Problems in "significant relationships"
- Giving up other social activities
- Sore eyes, back pain, strain injuries
- Sleep loss, weight gains or losses of 5kg
The report said that less than half of so-called "problem gamers" reported financial problems arising from their gaming, but half admitted that they had tried and failed to cut back on their gaming and three-quarters said their sleep habits and work or studies had suffered because of videogames.
But Mario Wynands, CEO of New Zealand developer Sidhe Interactive, said that while some gamers might have a problem, attributing it directly to games isn't fair. "Video games can be a very compelling hobby, just like going to the gym or reading," he said. "You can become engrossed in a good book and time flies by and before you know it you have spent an hour longer reading than you intended."
Noting that nobody worries about people who spend a lot of time reading, he added, "The issue was whether people were neglecting other aspects of their life. Ultimately, it comes down to the individual and their situation whether or not it is a problem. People have to weigh up the priorities in their lives and how they want to spend their time."
Source: Sydney Morning Herald