A study conducted by Netta Weinstein has put forward that perhaps there is no such thing as video game addiction and perhaps gamers are playing games for hours on end because they are unhappy in other areas of their life.

The study conducted at Cardiff University in the UK and funded by a grant from the John Fell Fund sought to determine whether gamers were actually addicted to games or if they were simply unhappy and were using games as a means to augment that unhappiness.

For those interested to be seen as suffering from internet gaming disorder (IGD), an individual must meet five of nine criteria used to diagnose the disorder.

The nine symptoms according to Psychology Today are:

  1. Preoccupation or obsession with internet games.
  2. Withdrawal symptoms when not playing internet games.
  3. A build-up of tolerance–more time needs to be spent playing the games.
  4. The person has tried to stop or curb playing internet games, but has failed to do so.
  5. The person has had a loss of interest in other life activities, such as hobbies.
  6. A person has had continued overuse of internet games, even with the knowledge of how much they impact a person’s life.
  7. The person lied to others about his or her internet game usage.
  8. The person uses internet games to relieve anxiety or guilt–it’s a way to escape.
  9. The person has lost or put at risk and opportunity or relationship because of internet games.

Weinstein and her colleagues asked 2 316 people over the age of 18 to fill in questionaires about their health, physical activity and lifestyle. Of the sample group only nine exhibited five or more of the symptoms outlined above but six months later none of the group exhibit these symptoms.

What the team did find however, is that folks who exhibited some of the symptoms related to IGD also had lower needs fulfillment. Simply put, these folks were unhappy in other areas of their life.

“IGD has dynamics of dysregulations brought on by the absence of psychological need satisfaction in one’s environment, and that it has implications for health, but only by undermining need satisfaction further,” reads the study.

After six months Weinstein and her fellow researchers noticed that symptoms of IGD were reduced in those that had become more content.

This study is very interesting, but we must point out that there is a bit of salt that needs to be added here. Firstly, 2 316 people is a large sample group but not exactly massive. Secondly this study was done using questionnaires and folks can often under-report bad behaviour.

That having been said this study really hit home for me. I often find myself withdrawing to the realm of video games after a rough day at the office. Perhaps knowing this, I’ll be more mindful of my behaviour and look for joy in other things.

You can read the full text of the study online for free.

[Via – New Scientist] [Image – CC BY 0 Pixabay]