One in Nine Online Gamers is Addicted

One in Nine Online Gamers is Addicted

In a talk to be given as part of the British Science Museum's 'Game On' lecture series, Professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University will unveil results of a new survey of over 7000 online computer gamers. The study, which collected data from one of the biggest sample sizes in the online gaming field, highlights that one in nine online gamers (12%) show at least three signs of addiction.

The Science Museum in London is hosting a gaming dedicated exhibition, Game On, which explores the history and culture of gaming, giving an insight into the creation of computer games, from their earliest days to today and beyond. Game On includes more than 120 games, including the world's first computer game from 1962, alongside today's technologically advanced game systems. Visitors will also have the opportunity to try out today's hottest systems including Nintendo's Wii and Sony's PS3.

Professor Griffiths, who is Director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, said the main aim of the study was to investigate the addictive potential of gaming. A self-selected sample comprising of 7069 gamers, mostly male (94%), with an average age of 21 years, answered two online questionnaires. One in nine of them (840 gamers) fulfilled at least three diagnostic criteria of addiction concerning their gaming behaviour. Addictive signs were modelled on key symptoms of dependence syndrome outlined by the World Health Organisation and included craving, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, loss of control, neglect of other activities, and other negative consequences.

Those gamers who displayed at least three addictive signs were then compared with the remaining gamers. The "addicted" gamers predictably played for significantly longer daily periods of time. They were also significantly more likely to report withdrawal symptoms and craving.

The study was carried out in conjunction with German colleagues Sabine Grüsser and Ralf Thalemann (University Medicine Berlin).

Professor Griffiths said: Although these gamers show some signs of addiction normally found in other more traditional addictions, our results do not conclusively show that the gamers are genuinely addicted. Many gamers play excessively and display few negative consequences. However, the 24-hour a day never-ending online games may provide a potentially addictive medium for those with a predisposition for excessive game playing.

The research is to be published in an upcoming issue of the US journal CyberPsychology and Behaviour.

In addition to revealing the results of the survey Professor Griffiths will also talk about the positive benefits of playing computer games in his lecture. He will argue that excessive gaming isn't always bad and that such behaviour needs to be put into the context of the gamer's life.