New research identifies some video game users, particularly online users, who became hooked on interactive games and then see their lives become increasingly unmanageable. Many articles are available that look at the addictive qualities of the games and who is susceptible to becoming addicted.
Other research looks at how this addiction compares to addictions such as drug and alcohol abuse and pathological gambling. Since computer game addiction is relatively new, there are few tools to measure the extent of addictiveness and how much the addictiveness affects the lives of the persons who are experiencing it.
Computers, the Internet and video game consoles have invaded our homes and have also become extremely portable. With video gaming becoming more popular every day, a consumer needs to be aware of the affects of this new addiction. Various qualities of games have been researched in order to determine what makes them addictive. Many article outline a workable definitions of video game addiction and examine the literature to determine who is playing video games and who is susceptible to becoming addicted. Only one article was found that developed and tested a scale to measure the addiction.
With the advances in graphics and game quality many factors play into the drawl of video game playing. Video games are designed with many levels, appealing characters, interesting storylines and state-of-the art graphics. Some games use characters and movies that are already familiar and known to potential players. All of these factors have been designed to provide the user with a form of appealing entertainment that they want to purchase and then repeatedly to play.
Video games are heavily advertised to attract a player’s interest and then influence users into trying them.
A certain level of captivation and the desire to perform causes gamers to become heavily immersed into the game. When in this state, gamers can lose a sense of time and self-consciousness. One interviewee described it as ‘you get involved and lose track of time…you’d be missing meals …”. The increase in the home computer and personal game consoles available on the market has resulted in an increase in the amount of time that such games can be played. When the term ‘addiction’ is used, people generally think of a physical dependency that is related to the use of drugs, alcohol or other chemical ubstances. “Tolerance, withdrawal and compulsive use are required for any diagnosis of dependency” (American Psychiatric Association). Researchers have suggested that that social pathologies related to video games are starting to emerge in society. New research suggests, “One reward is not considered different from another in the brain, regardless if the reward is from an internal chemical reaction or an external stimulus”(Holden). A reward comes with the risk of addiction, whether gambling, eating, sex, shopping is the reason for risk.
Playing video games consists of repeated, compulsive behaviors, a decrease in interest in doing other activities, making friends with other addicts and online gamers, and mental and physical symptoms of withdrawal when the games are taken away or otherwise dropped. Leung’s research of ‘addicted’ subjects strongly linked the addiction to the satisfaction of being able to controlling the world in online games. This research concludes that the “users are dependent because the internet and gaming are a safe place to express themselves without judgment” (Leung).
The intensity of game playing, repetitive nature, and the ability to play video games for hours and not notice the time that has passed, one finds it easy to believe that video games are addictive. Some gamers have reported withdrawal symptoms, including getting ‘the shakes’ after not playing a game for an extended period of time. The compulsive need for, the habit-forming qualities of, and the physiological and psychological symptoms of withdrawal correlate to other types of well-documented addictions. In 2004, Griffiths conducted research that compared 540 on-line game players, including adolescents and adults.
The information collected included demographics, frequency and history of playing, and their favorite and least favorite aspects of the game. Of those tested a significant majority of both adults and adolescents were male. The younger the player meant that the player was even more likely to be male. One third of the adults in the survey had some “undergraduate education”, however one third of the adolescents had “dropped out of school. ” The players tested were most likely to be single, and none of the adolescents and only “approximately 36% of the adults were married” (Griffiths).
Clymo’s studies reported, “77% teenagers in the US play video games” (Clymo). It is not surprising that Griffith’s research involving online video game playing reported that more than “70% of the players came from the United States” (Griffiths). According to various other reports, teenagers in the United States play an average of 3-4 hours per day. This is significantly higher than incidences in other countries. In Taiwan, research reveals that the “average age user plays about three times a week for an average of two hours” (Chiu, Lee and Huang).
A study conducted in South Spain indicated, “57% of adolescents played video games regularly” but that “93% of them had played at least once in the past year” (Salguero and Moran). Research from various other countries also clearly indicates that the United States has a higher incidence of game playing than any other culture. Griffiths reported computer game playing for most children is a” fairly absorbing and harmless activity” but for a small minority of children it may be “problematic” (Griffiths).
Other research suggests that the more involved a parent is with a child’s education, the less likely a child will be addicted to video games. The same research reports that more “socially adjusted children” are less likely to be addicted as well (Chiu, Lee and Huang). Research has also shown on the primary players also suggested that adolescent players were more “susceptible” to addiction than adult players. The study found that younger, adolescent players were more likely to let their “responsibilities lapse” in order to continue playing (Griffiths).
Although stories about addicted video game players generally center on a male teenager with an impaired social life, poor grades and little self-confidence, research does not always support this image. Although Leung’s research focuses on other activities in addition to gaming, this research suggests that subjects addicted to the Internet tend to be female’s that played games that included online chat. The research also indicated that new users, regardless of gender, were “more vulnerable” to becoming heavy users or addicts (Leung).
Subjects are suffering from symptoms of video game addiction because not enough research has been done on the issue. As video games are relatively new in the arena of addiction, little information is actually known about the effects on individuals and society as a whole. Creating tests and implementing tools that counselors and Primary Care Physicians can use to assess if issues with video games are present and to what extent can help addiction. Also, action plans and methods should be laid out to encourage parents to limit the time adolescents use video games. Making consumers aware of the growing issue of ideo game addition is of great importance and can only help in treatment for this newly found addiction.