If you know someone that plays hours upon hours of video games on a daily basis, you might be concerned that they have a bona fide addiction to gaming. Many professionals have said that a gaming addiction was a very real mental disorder, but now researchers are saying that that might not be the case.
A study that was conducted by Netta Weinstein of Cardiff University studied over 5,700 online gamers for six months to determine the merit of excessive gaming as a mental disorder. Originally, to classify gaming addiction as a mental disorder, gamers had to have hit five boxes out of nine on a list that included taking time off of work or class to play video games, as well as lying to people about how much time they play on a weekly basis. On top of all, they must feel stressed about how much they play.
Of the more than 5,700 participants, only nine were able to meet the criteria at the beginning, with zero of them meeting the criteria after the six months had ended. “We didn’t see a large number of people with clinical problems,” Weinstein said. “The study’s results suggest that it’s not clear how many resources should go to gaming addiction, compared to other addictions like drugs.”
Weinstein adds that those who played many hours of video games on a weekly basis likely weren’t suffering from an addiction, but were struggling in other parts of their lives. Many of the participants said that they needed some fulfillment in their lives, which is part of the reason they played so many video games. Some even noted that at the end of the six months that they had felt more fulfilled because of playing more games.
“This is initial evidence that having more ‘needs fulfillment in life’ can make people feel better about their gaming.” Meanwhile, psychologist Kimberly Young said that “Addicted players need to examine the emotional motives that prompt them to play a game excessively and look for alternate ways to satisfy those needs.”
Some researchers have warned that Weinstein’s research isn’t thorough enough to determine a lack of addiction with absolute certainty. Psychology researcher Daria Kuss said “If someone uses gaming to meet psychological needs, this could become a problem if they are not able to satisfy these needs in real life. But to confirm this, we need clinical samples of people who are being treated for addiction in centers.”
Weinstein’s study said that “This work provides some data to guide future work in this area. For example, we found evidence that individual Internet Gaming Disorder symptoms may remain stable over a brief period of time, yet individual diagnoses appear not to be. Support for the basic psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness lead to declines in IGD over time, though we did not observe direct effects of IGD on health over time.”
In recent years, many new forms of addiction were being treated officially, including adult entertainment on the internet and even shopping. Video game creator Valve even has a timer in some of their games that tells you when to take a break for a more healthy playing experience. Others such as Nintendo also remind players to take a break after an extended period of playing in their games that dates back for several years.