New Study Suggests Gaming Addiction is not a Clinical Disorder

By Sean Carey,
Research conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute and Cardiff University has found that those with dysfunctional gaming habits, or "gaming addiction" likely have underlying frustrations and more profound psychological issues — not video games themselves.

Gaming Addiction

Based on data from over 1000 adolescents and their caregivers, the study — Investigating the Motivational and Psychosocial Dynamics of Dysregulated Gaming — found that those with a dysfunctional gaming habit were likely using video games as a way of seeking contentment rather than being negatively impacted by the hobby.

The study comes after the recent classification of "Gaming Disorder" officially being recognised as a disease by the World Health Organisation. Professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute said previous research "failed to examine the wider context of what is going on in these young peoples' lives.

"This is something we seek to address with our new study. For the first time, we apply motivational theory and open science principles to investigate if psychological needs satisfactions and frustrations in adolescents’ daily lives are linked to dysregulated – or obsessive – gaming engagement."

The study found no evidence that an unhealthy relationship with video games accounts for emotional and behavioural problems. Instead, Przybylski concluded that gaming habits are linked to whether certain psychological needs are met or if there are other wider functioning issues.

"In light of our findings, we do not believe sufficient evidence exists to warrant thinking about gaming as a clinical disorder in its own right."

The study involved adolescents completing questionnaires about their gaming behaviour — including details about how long they spent playing, whom they played with and if they played online, while their caregivers rated their child's emotional and social health. The study found that most participants played at least one game online daily, less than half reported "obsessive gaming" symptoms and were playing an average of three hours per day. The study also states that "there was little evidence that obsessive gaming significantly impacted adolescent outcomes."

Dr Netta Weinstein, senior lecturer from Cardiff University and co-author of the report said, "We urge healthcare professionals to look more closely at the underlying factors such as psychological satisfactions and everyday frustrations to understand why a minority of players feel like they must engage in gaming in an obsessive way."

Professor Przybylski added, "Whilst the growing popularity of gaming has incited concerns from health care and mental health professions, our research provides no compelling evidence that games, on their own, are to blame for problems facing players. We need better data and the cooperation of video gaming companies if we are to get to the bottom of all this."

Source: University of Oxford
Sean Carey
Written by Sean Carey
Hey everyone! I'm Sean. I have been writing gaming content for various outlets over the past few years while studying a degree in Journalism. I grew up on everything PlayStation — mainly Metal Gear Solid, with a brief foray into the world of Xbox. Nowadays, you'll find me mainly playing multiplayer PC games, but with the recent addition of the Xbox Game Pass for PC, I'm looking forward to improving my TA Score.
Posts on this article have been added to a thread in the Industry News Forum.
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 12:42Permalink
    Correlation ≠ Causation. That is all.
    This is a signature. It has words in it.
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 12:51, Edited on 21 October 19 at 12:56 by TheGearGuardianPermalink
    Didn't need to go this far with this. It's a positive feedback loop, no different to facebook addiction at it's core. I like the result and wish to continue doing this regardless of consquence. But other than an individuals drive to play/improve, the game itself isn't messing with a players neurochemistry by any direct means.

    A much larger percentage of us play these games and can put them down as we see fit. Giving something a title or label is becoming to easy and gives too many of the wrong people a crutch which isn't needed. As well as aiding many ignorant people to form an opinion on the gaming industry which is completely fabricated, "my son is addicted and violent".

    Blame the sources of the problem, parenting, self control and lack of cyber security for the younger games that throw a lot of finance into these games through non consented fashions.

    Sorry for the vent, but kind of hits close to home at the minute.

    If you read to the end, thanks for reading. smile
    My TA Interview - http://www.trueachievements.com/n24525/ta-community-interview-thegearguardian.htm
  • DeceptiveTenDeceptiveTen756,591
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 12:52Permalink
    Who funds this shit? laugh
    deceptiveten
  • onnovdwonnovdw264,280
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 12:52Permalink
    DarkWingSpartan said:
    Correlation ≠ Causation. That is all.
    +1
    " they told me the classics never go out of style, but they do, they do "
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 12:55Permalink
    DeceptiveTen said:
    Who funds this shit? laugh
    We, the tax payer.
  • hott Armantehott Armante803,114
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 13:35Permalink
    Calling it an addiction in the first place is incorrect, it is more accurately a compulsion. That doesn’t mean it’s not a problem but the way of treating the two are different.
  • Vermin360Vermin360495,906
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 13:40Permalink
    British Legends said:
    DeceptiveTen said:
    Who funds this shit? laugh
    We, the tax payer.
    Actually a lot of University research studies are funded by corporations. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if one of the big three (Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony) or the ESA contributed funds toward research of this nature. In Oxford's case, only 8% of their income comes from government funds.
    We don't stop playing because we get old; we grow old because we stop playing.
  • BloodGodAlucardBloodGodAlucard1,118,173
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 13:40Permalink
    TheGearGuardian said:
    Didn't need to go this far with this. It's a positive feedback loop, no different to facebook addiction at it's core. I like the result and wish to continue doing this regardless of consquence. But other than an individuals drive to play/improve, the game itself isn't messing with a players neurochemistry by any direct means.

    A much larger percentage of us play these games and can put them down as we see fit. Giving something a title or label is becoming to easy and gives too many of the wrong people a crutch which isn't needed. As well as aiding many ignorant people to form an opinion on the gaming industry which is completely fabricated, "my son is addicted and violent".

    Blame the sources of the problem, parenting, self control and lack of cyber security for the younger games that throw a lot of finance into these games through non consented fashions.

    Sorry for the vent, but kind of hits close to home at the minute.

    If you read to the end, thanks for reading. smile
    Well said. rock

    British Legends said:
    DeceptiveTen said:
    Who funds this shit? laugh
    We, the tax payer.
    Damn shame, isn't it? It'd be better to burn that money tbh. Why not use it for something that matters? You know, like feeding hungry people, improving education, creating jobs for the unemployed, cancer research, etc. Nah those damn video games are evil. laugh
  • ElSaviolaElSaviola151,513
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 13:48Permalink
    Well it's obviously that darn Eminem and his evil rap music making our children violent!
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 13:49Permalink
    Is achievement hunting an addiction? Thats the real question compute
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 13:57Permalink
    Another scapegoat bites the dust, they'll have to find something else.
  • Dakrkplayer2Dakrkplayer2775,528
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 14:20Permalink
    Some addictions can be caused by underlying problems. Like the lid not being supported for being GLBT.
    XBOX 4 LIFE
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 14:21Permalink
    I work 50+ hours a week. I get an hour or two in the evening to unwind.

    Instead of going to the bar, I choose to play a game. And people will tell me I have a "problem" while their smartphone is permanently 3 inches from their nose.

    Centuries ago, reading excess amounts of fiction was going to rot your brain. Since the advent of the television we have been told that tv will rot your brain. Now video games are addictive and thus a "problem". And it is always from people who claim they "know" or "understand" when they have no idea - they have never experienced a video game, and instead maybe played Mario as a kid and formulated an opinion of the entire medium from there. TBH, I think this sums this it up perfectly:

    "The thing that old people don't understand is – you know if you've never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listened to him for 15 minutes, you're not going to get it. You are just not going to understand. You have to put in hours and hours to start to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You're not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances.

    There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can't do it in five minutes. You can't listen to The Rite of Spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don't know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong."
    ~ Penn Jillette
    Fully loaded, safety off. This here is a recipe for unpleasantness.
  • Vok 250Vok 250193,419
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 14:22Permalink
    As someone who has studied psych, colour me surprised... As always, the WHO recognising a "Disorder" was political biased and poorly researched. They don't exactly have a great track record when it comes to being up to date on the academics, science, or human rights.

    In the academic world, the definition of "addiction" has been a topic of debate over the last decade, let alone attaching that word to habits with no chemical influence.
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 14:36Permalink
    the only certain evidence so far is that gaming makes you smarter
    audiosurf for xbox, please ! - boss fights are by far the worst part of videogames, especially when they are stupid hard
  • SheBeatsYouSheBeatsYou190,141
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 14:36Permalink
    a Fi1thy Casual said:
    I work 50+ hours a week. I get an hour or two in the evening to unwind.

    Instead of going to the bar, I choose to play a game. And people will tell me I have a "problem" while their smartphone is permanently 3 inches from their nose.

    Centuries ago, reading excess amounts of fiction was going to rot your brain. Since the advent of the television we have been told that tv will rot your brain. Now video games are addictive and thus a "problem". And it is always from people who claim they "know" or "understand" when they have no idea - they have never experienced a video game, and instead maybe played Mario as a kid and formulated an opinion of the entire medium from there. TBH, I think this sums this it up perfectly:

    "The thing that old people don't understand is – you know if you've never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listened to him for 15 minutes, you're not going to get it. You are just not going to understand. You have to put in hours and hours to start to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You're not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances.

    There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can't do it in five minutes. You can't listen to The Rite of Spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don't know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong."
    ~ Penn Jillette
    "Since the advent of the television we have been told that tv will rot your brain."

    This one is kinda true if you have ever seen a CW show like Super Girl or Agents of Shield. My brain has never recovered from that stupidity. facepalm
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 15:41Permalink
    SheBeatsYou said:
    a Fi1thy Casual said:
    I work 50+ hours a week. I get an hour or two in the evening to unwind.

    Instead of going to the bar, I choose to play a game. And people will tell me I have a "problem" while their smartphone is permanently 3 inches from their nose.

    Centuries ago, reading excess amounts of fiction was going to rot your brain. Since the advent of the television we have been told that tv will rot your brain. Now video games are addictive and thus a "problem". And it is always from people who claim they "know" or "understand" when they have no idea - they have never experienced a video game, and instead maybe played Mario as a kid and formulated an opinion of the entire medium from there. TBH, I think this sums this it up perfectly:

    "The thing that old people don't understand is – you know if you've never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listened to him for 15 minutes, you're not going to get it. You are just not going to understand. You have to put in hours and hours to start to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You're not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances.

    There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can't do it in five minutes. You can't listen to The Rite of Spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don't know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong."
    ~ Penn Jillette
    "Since the advent of the television we have been told that tv will rot your brain."

    This one is kinda true if you have ever seen a CW show like Super Girl or Agents of Shield. My brain has never recovered from that stupidity. facepalm
    Glad I'm not the only one. The thing is, I'm too curious to know what comes next that I can't stop watching it. That, and my unwarranted optimism keeps thinking that "it's just that this is a bad season. Surely, the next one will be better." but it never is. I would also like to throw Gotham into that mix, for good measure

    Despite my brain screaming at me to stop watching these crap shows, I keep on watching them. They are like potato chips. You know they are unhealthy, but you can't just eat one. I think I might be addicted to terrible TV shows.
  • SheBeatsYouSheBeatsYou190,141
    Posted on 21 October 19 at 16:11Permalink
    Silicon Iceman said:
    SheBeatsYou said:
    a Fi1thy Casual said:
    I work 50+ hours a week. I get an hour or two in the evening to unwind.

    Instead of going to the bar, I choose to play a game. And people will tell me I have a "problem" while their smartphone is permanently 3 inches from their nose.

    Centuries ago, reading excess amounts of fiction was going to rot your brain. Since the advent of the television we have been told that tv will rot your brain. Now video games are addictive and thus a "problem". And it is always from people who claim they "know" or "understand" when they have no idea - they have never experienced a video game, and instead maybe played Mario as a kid and formulated an opinion of the entire medium from there. TBH, I think this sums this it up perfectly:

    "The thing that old people don't understand is – you know if you've never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listened to him for 15 minutes, you're not going to get it. You are just not going to understand. You have to put in hours and hours to start to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You're not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances.

    There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can't do it in five minutes. You can't listen to The Rite of Spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don't know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong."
    ~ Penn Jillette
    "Since the advent of the television we have been told that tv will rot your brain."

    This one is kinda true if you have ever seen a CW show like Super Girl or Agents of Shield. My brain has never recovered from that stupidity. facepalm
    Glad I'm not the only one. The thing is, I'm too curious to know what comes next that I can't stop watching it. That, and my unwarranted optimism keeps thinking that "it's just that this is a bad season. Surely, the next one will be better." but it never is. I would also like to throw Gotham into that mix, for good measure

    Despite my brain screaming at me to stop watching these crap shows, I keep on watching them. They are like potato chips. You know they are unhealthy, but you can't just eat one. I think I might be addicted to terrible TV shows.
    You gotta stop it isn't gonna ever get better lol.

    "This is your brain on drugs" shock
    "This is your brain after watching an episode of The Flash" shock
  • Posted on 21 October 19 at 16:22Permalink
    a Fi1thy Casual said:
    I work 50+ hours a week. I get an hour or two in the evening to unwind.

    Instead of going to the bar, I choose to play a game. And people will tell me I have a "problem" while their smartphone is permanently 3 inches from their nose.

    Centuries ago, reading excess amounts of fiction was going to rot your brain. Since the advent of the television we have been told that tv will rot your brain. Now video games are addictive and thus a "problem". And it is always from people who claim they "know" or "understand" when they have no idea - they have never experienced a video game, and instead maybe played Mario as a kid and formulated an opinion of the entire medium from there. TBH, I think this sums this it up perfectly:

    "The thing that old people don't understand is – you know if you've never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listened to him for 15 minutes, you're not going to get it. You are just not going to understand. You have to put in hours and hours to start to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You're not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances.

    There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can't do it in five minutes. You can't listen to The Rite of Spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about. It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don't know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong."
    ~ Penn Jillette
    If you play an hour or two every evening, I don't think anyone would say you have an addiction. Most people watch TV 8-10pm anyway.

    Sure, there is stigma towards adult gamers (should've outgrown it). That is a real stigma but I don't think anyone would tell you you're an addict for playing an hour a night. (or two or three)
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