Is video game addiction a plausible psychiatric disorder?


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Will video game addiction soon become a part of the official psychiatric diseases list? That certainly seems to be the wish of a team of medical experts presenting their video games addiction study two days ago at the American Medical Association congress.

This report responds to Resolution 421, adopted at the 2006 Annual Meeting, which (1) asks our AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health to work in conjunction with all appropriate specialty societies to prepare a report, reviewing and summarizing the research data on the emotional and behavioral effects, including addiction potential, of video games; and (2) directs our AMA to develop recommendations for physicians, parents, and legislators based on the findings of this report.

According to the study, 90% of young Americans play video games, and among those, nearly 15% – around 5 million kids – could be addicted. The report also mentions that young people will be more prone to other addictions as adults when they’ve been hooked on video games in the past.

Here’s the direct link to the report (doc) for those of you interested in reading more.

Do you think video game addiction should be classified as a psychiatric disease? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.







17 Responses to Is video game addiction a plausible psychiatric disorder?

  1. If so, they should’ve made TV watching (especially soaps, game shows, and now American Idol) an addiction years ago. Thank God they didn’t or we’d all be drugged. So, no.

  2. If so, they should've made TV watching (especially soaps, game shows, and now American Idol) an addiction years ago. Thank God they didn't or we'd all be drugged. So, no.

  3. No I don’t think so. As soon as they define it as a condition then we will have believers. Perhaps we should tackle chocolate chip cookies and milk next especially those dunkers. Might be some agression there whether a full or partial dunker :)

  4. No I don't think so. As soon as they define it as a condition then we will have believers. Perhaps we should tackle chocolate chip cookies and milk next especially those dunkers. Might be some agression there whether a full or partial dunker :)

  5. I guess it all depends on how you define addiction. If you're using the word in the traditional pharmacological sense, then gaming is definitely not an addiction, because there are no physiological withdrawal symptoms.

    However, if we're talking about addiction as in psychological dependency, then games can cause addiction. The most notorious examples are massive multiplayer online games, especially if we're talking about sloppily designed zero-sum games. When a zero-sum game is not well-balanced, the "addiction factor" can skyrocket due to the fact that whether you win (get rewarded) or lose (get punished) is ultimately not dependent on your skill, but on some other factor such as luck. The strongest addiction is produced when the rewards come at random, without pattern, because the mind keeps motivating itself to go on "just a little bit more" and see whether the reward can be achieved.

    Of course, all this doesn't mean that games should be singled out. There are many other activities that can cause psychological dependency, such as watching TV, sex or work. And let's not forget that substances that induce physical dependency are a lot more addictive and a bigger problem in general than any of the aforementioned activities. Bottom line: anyone who blames all our kids' problems on games is probably a loon.

  6. I agree with the other posters. I think it is far from a psychiatric condition. If you need help to stop playing video games and find more meaning or purpose in your life, then by all means go talk to someone. To classify it as a psychiatric condition, I think that is ridiculous.

  7. I agree with the other posters. I think it is far from a psychiatric condition. If you need help to stop playing video games and find more meaning or purpose in your life, then by all means go talk to someone. To classify it as a psychiatric condition, I think that is ridiculous.

  8. Personally is it addictive behavior sure. Is it an addiction no.

    What I mean sitting down to anything for hours on end with no thought of sleep or food is addictive in nature but the games themselves are not the addiction the actions of the players, tv watchers, sports players, drivers, insert repetative action here are the problems.

    The people that game for hours without games would watch tv or something else. Dont blame the games dont blame anything. Its really just human need for massive amounts of information.

    IMO

  9. Personally is it addictive behavior sure. Is it an addiction no.

    What I mean sitting down to anything for hours on end with no thought of sleep or food is addictive in nature but the games themselves are not the addiction the actions of the players, tv watchers, sports players, drivers, insert repetative action here are the problems.

    The people that game for hours without games would watch tv or something else. Dont blame the games dont blame anything. Its really just human need for massive amounts of information.

    IMO

  10. I guess it all depends on how you define addiction. If you're using the word in the traditional pharmacological sense, then gaming is definitely not an addiction, because there are no physiological withdrawal symptoms.

    However, if we're talking about addiction as in psychological dependency, then games can cause addiction. The most notorious examples are massive multiplayer online games, especially if we're talking about sloppily designed zero-sum games. When a zero-sum game is not well-balanced, the "addiction factor" can skyrocket due to the fact that whether you win (get rewarded) or lose (get punished) is ultimately not dependent on your skill, but on some other factor such as luck. The strongest addiction is produced when the rewards come at random, without pattern, because the mind keeps motivating itself to go on "just a little bit more" and see whether the reward can be achieved.

    Of course, all this doesn't mean that games should be singled out. There are many other activities that can cause psychological dependency, such as watching TV, sex or work. And let's not forget that substances that induce physical dependency are a lot more addictive and a bigger problem in general than any of the aforementioned activities. Bottom line: anyone who blames all our kids' problems on games is probably a loon.

  11. There was a movie about this guy, I can’t remember the name of the movie now, who was out in the middle east dismantling bombs. After he finishes the tour or whatever it’s called, he comes home and feels really restless and feels the need to do that sort of stuff again. Something about the adrenaline rush he got from disarming an active bomb. Now, does it really make sense to say he was addicted to bomb-dismantling?

    What I’m getting at is people just get used to something they’ve done so much and can’t get out of the loop. If they think things like just gaming is true, then I need help times two. I’m adicted to brushing my teeth every day, i need meds.

  12. There was a movie about this guy, I can't remember the name of the movie now, who was out in the middle east dismantling bombs. After he finishes the tour or whatever it's called, he comes home and feels really restless and feels the need to do that sort of stuff again. Something about the adrenaline rush he got from disarming an active bomb. Now, does it really make sense to say he was addicted to bomb-dismantling?

    What I'm getting at is people just get used to something they've done so much and can't get out of the loop. If they think things like just gaming is true, then I need help times two. I'm adicted to brushing my teeth every day, i need meds.

  13. What I rtried to say in my last post was that AMA members are gonna drop like flies if they start believing that things like video games are addicting, because they will rush around finding the same sort of behavior everywhere. What they are really scared of is a thing called habit, and there can be good habits or bad habits, but they’re just not worth recording. The only reason they are picking on gaming and not toothbrushing is they want their kids unplugged, and work themselves into a self-induced frenzy thinking their child needs meds for being entertained. Gaming is not a psychiatric condition, and I am not mental for leaving an unheard of two comments. I will not take any gaming meds, and that’s final.

  14. What I rtried to say in my last post was that AMA members are gonna drop like flies if they start believing that things like video games are addicting, because they will rush around finding the same sort of behavior everywhere. What they are really scared of is a thing called habit, and there can be good habits or bad habits, but they're just not worth recording. The only reason they are picking on gaming and not toothbrushing is they want their kids unplugged, and work themselves into a self-induced frenzy thinking their child needs meds for being entertained. Gaming is not a psychiatric condition, and I am not mental for leaving an unheard of two comments. I will not take any gaming meds, and that's final.

  15. Videogames ARE addictive just as Gambling is addictive. It is, of course, not the same kind of addiction as smoking or drugs. But it can cause dependency and anything that can cause dependency and interfere with normal activities (like interacting with othe human beings) can be qualified as addiction.

    Maybe you haven't seen the case, but I know of people that have abbandoned family and friends for playing games. Just as an alcoholic or a drug addict start drifting appart.
    (Check http://gamerwidow.com/)

    You people talk as if these guys have nothing better to do than messing with the things you like.
    There are families getting hurt by people's addictions everyday, just because it has not happened to you doesn't mean that it is not an issue.
    The fact that one day you cross the street and nothing happens to you, doesn't mean that cars can not run over people.

  16. Videogames ARE addictive just as Gambling is addictive. It is, of course, not the same kind of addiction as smoking or drugs. But it can cause dependency and anything that can cause dependency and interfere with normal activities (like interacting with othe human beings) can be qualified as addiction.

    Maybe you haven't seen the case, but I know of people that have abbandoned family and friends for playing games. Just as an alcoholic or a drug addict start drifting appart.
    (Check http://gamerwidow.com/)

    You people talk as if these guys have nothing better to do than messing with the things you like.
    There are families getting hurt by people's addictions everyday, just because it has not happened to you doesn't mean that it is not an issue.
    The fact that one day you cross the street and nothing happens to you, doesn't mean that cars can not run over people.

  17. Videogames ARE addictive just as Gambling is addictive. It is, of course, not the same kind of addiction as smoking or drugs. But it can cause dependency and anything that can cause dependency and interfere with normal activities (like interacting with othe human beings) can be qualified as addiction.

    Maybe you haven't seen the case, but I know of people that have abbandoned family and friends for playing games. Just as an alcoholic or a drug addict start drifting appart.
    (Check http://gamerwidow.com/)

    You people talk as if these guys have nothing better to do than messing with the things you like.
    There are families getting hurt by people's addictions everyday, just because it has not happened to you doesn't mean that it is not an issue.
    The fact that one day you cross the street and nothing happens to you, doesn't mean that cars can not run over people.