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Are Video Games Addictive?

Should we blame video games for causing gamers to become addicted to playing?

 

In August, a man sued the manufacturer of Lineage II over his addiction to the game. The popular health site, WebMD, contains an article warning about video game addiction and discussing a detox center in Amsterdam that caters to the treatment of game addiction. Back in 2007, doctors shied away from designating video game addiction as a mental disorder, explaining that more study would be required before such a designation could be made.

 

A brand-new study by Yale University suggests that “a small but not insignificant proportion of kids find themselves unable to control their gaming,” said study author Rani Desai, an associate professor of psychiatry and public health at the Yale University School of Medicine.

 

“That's cause for concern because that inability is associated with a lot of other problem behaviors."

 

The study defines problem gaming as having three main symptoms: trying and failing to play games less, feeling an irresistible urge to play and experiencing tension that could only be eased by play. The majority of the study participants showed no signs of problem gaming, but 5 percent reported all three main symptoms. The symptoms are more likely in boys (5.8 percent vs. 3 percent in girls). The study draws correlations between the symptoms and a higher risk of smoking, drug use, depression and fighting. The study does not conclude that problem gaming causes these other issues.

 

An extensive article by Aaron Ruby that appears on The ECA’s site analyzes other studies that do draw the conclusion that video games are addictive. Ruby argues that these conclusions are flawed and even biased.

 

Can video games be an addictive substance? Should video games carry warning labels like cigarettes? Or are people with more tendencies to develop addictions the ones who are becoming “addicted” to video games?

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