After noticing that last weekend Alchemy (a game for smart phones) had seemed to have taken over my flatmates’ lives and then finding that this week my fingers have been permanently glued to my iPhone playing Fruit Ninja all weekend, I felt that it was appropriate to investigate research into gaming. Why do we get so hooked on these games that can’t we put our phones down and if there is really such thing as a “gaming addiction”.
As research into the gaming culture is only relatively new (starting from around the 1990s), gaming addiction has not been recognised as a mental health condition and therefore has not been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). However, researchers are still investigating into the world of gaming by linking them to recognisable related disorders, such as gambling. Griffiths and Hunt (1998) conducted a questionnaire study with 387 teenagers, in order to find out if people are dependent on games. They used a scale adapted from the DSM-III-R criteria for pathological gambling and found that 1 in 5 of the teens were dependant on computer games (boys more so than girls)! The earlier children began playing computer games it appeared the more likely they were to be playing at “dependent” levels. However, the ecological validity of the study could be questioned, as the participants were only teens they have less responsibilty than adults so them being dependent on games isnt so much effecting their lives. It would be interesting to see the results if the study was conducted on adults.
It is suggested that player’s psycho-social dependence may occur due to the reinforcement that the game offers, as Griffiths claims that“all addictions (whether chemical or behavioural) are essentially about constant rewards and reinforcement”. It could be suggested that people’s social dependency on computer games may be due to video games that allow players to interact with others and create online relationships… this can lead to shocking and extreme cases of some gamers finding these relationships more important than their real life relationships. *
Griffiths (2009) puts forward the idea that not all gamers who play excessively have an addiction or are dependent on the game. Data was collected from two case studies in order to distinguish excessive gaming from addictive gaming. Both participants played games for up to 14 hours a day, however, their reasons for playing games so excessively were different. They were very different in terms of psychological motivation and the meaning and experience of gaming within their lives. One of the gamers was considered to be an addict as he felt as though the game was an important part of his life which lead to the game having negative impact on other areas of his life. Whereas the other gamer just played for enjoyment and the game didn’t affect other aspects of his life. Griffiths also concluded that an activity cannot be described as an addiction if there are few (or no) negative consequences in the player’s life even if the gamer is playing 14 hours a day. This study would be more valid if there were more participants, as we do not know if these two individuals can be generalised for every gamer. It could be that most people who play games exessively are finding that it has a negative impact on other areas of their life.
In conclusion, gaming is now known as one of the most popular past-times so this could be a reason why so many people are spending excessive lengths of time on games! As we have games at our fingertips, and its usually raining outside, who wouldn’t want to sit indoors shooting their TV or chopping up virtual fruit from the comfort of their sofa (or bed)?! Furthermore, even though a lot of adolescents may spend a lot of time on games, if they don’t put it before their health and real-life relationships… everything should be ok. I do think it’s a concern for gamers who show addictive behaviours towards games, however APA suggested (2007) that there is not enough evidence or research to conclude that video game addiction is a ‘real’ disorder and therefore it will not be accepted into the latest DSM this year.
During this blog I received a text off my boyfriend saying he’d beaten my Fruit Ninja high score, so now I know that I’m not mentally unwell, I am going to say goodbye and continue my night on Fruit Ninja. BYE!
Oh one last thing, if anyone is interested in further reading (or an Anrgy Birds addict) then check this website out… actual explanations of WHY you are addicted to the game… clever, clever, game makers