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An Expert’s Reaction to Claims of Gaming Addiction: ‘What Addiction?’

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image courtesy of gamer.ru

There has been a major discussion about the effect of games on people. Like drugs, it has a profound effect that makes it hard for people to stop playing them. However, a researcher has responded in an article published in The Sun about gaming and its addictive influence. The article pointed out that the effects prompted actions such as calls from concerned people, suicides, as well as negative brain activity.

However, Dr. Mark Griffiths, the Director of the International gaming Research Unit at Nottingham University, said that it was probably something that was blown out of proportion. He was the one who supplied a two-page questionnaire in the said article that measured just how addicted people were to games.

image courtesy of xbox.com

image courtesy of xbox.com

He stated that there were certain criteria that defined an addiction to certain things. He said that to determine addiction, you had to take in factors such as withdrawal and tolerance. With this measurement factors, he postulated that people who were addicted to gaming were really few. He even thought that it was absurd that a lot of people would score high on the said test. While there were people who might relate to four or five of the items, it didn?t mean that they had an addiction, he said. It was just that they had a problem with discipline.

Addiction does exist, Dr. Griffiths said. But these cases are, like he said, really few, and kids?the main focus of the study?can afford to go three or four hours per day playing these games without it posing a major threat on their education, physical education, or their interactions with peers and kids their age. He cites that while the addiction to games is there, the good news is that genuine addiction is only found in a tiny fraction of people.

So far, there has been no solid evidence on whether a wide-spread case of gaming addiction exists. Problematic gaming may be the proper term to suggest that indeed, there are cases where people can?t stop playing these games, or can?t put a game down. But gaming addiction and problematic gaming are two distinctively different things. Perhaps media is to blame, as they do tend to blow things out of proportion from time to time.

image courtesy of playstation.com

image courtesy of playstation.com

Citing the headline that compared gaming to drugs like heroin and coke, Griffiths presented his own opinion about addiction. He said that addiction only occurs when a certain object or stuff becomes the focal point of your life. It is an addiction if you feel that you cannot function properly without it, putting your relationships, work, and other activities at risk. Some people may display addiction-like components when playing games, but then again, it is not a barometer to say that these people are addicts to gaming.

The topic has been heavily discussed in media. There are some who cited that the headline was a ruse, a deliberate ploy to create mass hysteria, thereby creating a spike in sales, the true purpose of citing such a report. But is such a thing surprising? Well, business is business, and as one saying goes, even bad news is good news in the newsroom.


(with excerpts from The Sun UK)

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