Video game addiction

Video game addiction
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Playing video games

Video game addiction (VGA) has been suggested by some in the medical community as a distinct behavioral addiction characterized by excessive or compulsive use of computer games or video games that interferes with a person's everyday life.[1] Video game addiction may present itself as compulsive gaming, social isolation, mood swings, diminished imagination, and hyper-focus on in-game achievements, to the exclusion of other events in life.[2][3]

In May 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) declined to include video game addiction in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, concluding that there was insufficient evidence to include it as an official mental disorder.[4] However, proposed criteria for "Internet Gaming Disorder" were included in a section called "Conditions for Further Study". The World Health Organization included "gaming disorder" within the 11th revision of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems as of June 2018.

While Internet gaming disorder is proposed as a disorder, it is still discussed how much this disorder is caused by the gaming activity itself, or whether it is to some extent an effect of other disorders. Contradictions in research examining video game addictiveness may reflect more general inconsistencies in video game research. For example, while some research has linked violent video games with increased aggressive behavior[5] other research has failed to find evidence for such links.[6][7]

Causes

Video game/mobile

Some theorists focus on presumed built-in reward systems of the games to explain their potentially addictive nature.[8][9] Many video games, particularly massively multiplayer online role-playing games and social network and mobile games,[10] rely on a "compulsion loop" or "core loop", a cycle of activities that involve rewarding the player and driving them to continue through another cycle, retaining them in the game. The anticipation of such rewards can create a neurological reaction that releases dopamine into the body, so that once the reward is obtained, the person will remember it as a pleasurable feeling. This has been found similar to the same neurological reaction believed to be associated with gambling addiction.[11][12] In reference to gamers such as one suicide in China, the head of one software association was quoted, "In the hypothetical world created by such games, they become confident and gain satisfaction, which they cannot get in the real world."[13]

Griffiths has also proposed that another reason why online video games are potentially addictive is because they "can be played all day every day". The fact that there is no end to the game can feel rewarding for some, and hence players are further engaged in the game.[14]

A high prenatal testosterone load may be a risk factor for the development of video game addiction in adulthood.[15]

Ferguson, Coulson and Barnett in a meta-analytic review of the research, concluded that the evidence suggests that video game addiction arises out of other mental health problems, rather than causing them.[16] Thus it is unclear whether video game addiction should be considered a unique diagnosis.[16]

Researchers at the University of Rochester and Immersyve, Inc. (a Celebration, Florida, computer gaming think-tank) investigated what motivates gamers to continue playing video games. According to lead investigator Richard Ryan, they believe that players play for more reasons than fun alone. Ryan, a motivational psychologist at Rochester, says that many video games satisfy basic psychological needs, and players often continue to play because of rewards, freedom, and a connection to other players.[17]

Michael Brody, M.D., head of the TV and Media Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, stated in a 2007 press release that "... there is not enough research on whether or not video games are addictive". However, Brody also cautioned that for some children and adolescents, "... it displaces physical activity and time spent on studies, with friends, and even with family".[18]

Karen Pierce, a psychiatrist at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital, sees no need for a specific gaming addiction diagnosis. Two or more children see her each week because of excessive computer and video game play, and she treats their problems as she would any addiction. She said one of her excessive-gaming patients "...hasn't been to bed, hasn't showered...He is really a mess".[3]

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