Online games addiction a cause of poor mental health?

June 2, 2014, Queensland University of Technology
Online games addiction a cause of poor mental health?
Rachel Sato

World of Warcraft, Everquest and Starcraft - enormously absorbing and popular online games enjoyed by millions around the world but a dangerous addiction for some?

PhD social marketing researcher Rachel Sato, from QUT's School of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations, said were the most vulnerable to problematic online gaming.

"There is growing evidence that young men are more likely than young women to spend excessive amounts of time gaming which can have negative effects on their . This includes addiction and depression and can lead to difficulties with social relationships," she said.

Ms Sato is investigating a link between obsessive online gaming in MMORPGS (Massively multiplayer online role-playing games) and in young men.

"I am calling for participants who are male, aged between 18 and 25, who have recognised they have a problem with controlling the amount of time they spend in , or who have overcome it," Ms Sato said.

Ms Sato's interest in the subject stems from her own brush with online gaming addiction.

"From the age of 14 to 16, I played MapleStory about four hours a day on school days and 10 hours a day on the weekend," she said.

"My grades dropped dramatically and my mother took away my phone and privileges - it was a wakeup call.

"The game I played had simple graphics but all the elements of World of Warcraft etc. It was addictive because it had lots of quests and rewards - you could win things in the game such as a special weapon or equipment.

"The game never ends and you feel excitement, sadness when you lose something and good when you conquer a quest with other people. It gives you sense of belonging as part of a group or 'guild'."

Ms Sato said her research was focussing on the triggers that caused problem gamers to realise they needed help and she also wants to find out where they seek help to overcome their compulsion to play.

"It is known some gamers play 80 hours a week. A man in South Korea died of dehydration and exhaustion after playing for 50 hours straight.

"Gamers have a problem when gaming becomes more important than education, socialising and work - behaviour that is like drug addiction but we don't know if problem gamers have an underlying addictive personality.

"Other research suggests some life event such as a new baby, loss of family member can be the trigger for making them realise it had taken over their life."

Explore further: Researchers identify risk-factors for addictive video-game use among adults

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not rated yet Jun 02, 2014
I'm 33 and I've always had a hard time controlling the amount of time I spend playing video games, not just online, but also console games going back to the 1980's.

I used to play 80's and 90's era console games till I had them to perfection: Complete "Contra" on the NES without getting hit even once...and then see how many times I could pass through the game in a row...without getting hit even once.

You know those lists on the internet for "top 10 hardest games"? Contra is one of them in most people's list.

Starcraft: Broodwar? Late 1990's/early 00's I played that as much as 8 hours per day on week days, and 16 hours per day on week-ends. Not proud of that. It was absorbing, addicting, all-consuming. I maintained a 70% to 90% win rate in public games, up until after the pro-gaming scene came around and most players quit and only the very best remained.

I tried to quit SC:BW several times including throwing the game away. I still own it, but don't play it. I have SC2, but....
not rated yet Jun 02, 2014
I am no longer AS BAD. I shifted more and more away from games.

In the mid-zeroes I quit gaming completely for a few years, and I think that helped me better control that problem in the long term.

The problem with these games is competition drives a desire to want to be better,a nd that requires more and more time to play to get better.

There are people on Blizzard's game forum for Starcraft 2 who have multiple accounts in Master or Grand master league, and have 13,000 games played on their main account. they practice rogue strategies on another account so their ranking on the main account doesn't get hurt by any losses. A game of Starcraft 2 typically lasts at least 10 minutes and most games last more like 15 to 20 minutes. Long games can last an hour or more, world record competitive game is around 3 hours now.

So if a guy has 13,000 games on his main account and htey average 20 minutes, then he's spent 4333 hours on his main account in RANKED games...the game is 3 years old.
not rated yet Jun 02, 2014
Which means that the Grand Master player I have in mind averages 4 hours per day playing SC2 on his MAIN ACCOUNT only, every day, for the past 3 years. Then you have to figure second or third accounts: An Asian account, a north american account, and a practice account.

So he is probably playing more like 6 hours per day every day....and somehow goes to college or works a job one case one of the best North American players is married, and plays a mech style, which is going for a very late game win, and he has 11,000 games on his main account. mech games last 40 minutes or so which means he was spending about 6 hours 45 minutes per day for 3 years playing on his main account only....

He has been top 10 Grand Master on North America and bottom Grand Master in Asia repeatedly, so he has to have thousands of games played on his second and third accounts too...
not rated yet Jun 02, 2014
I've even told some of them they had a problem, and were hurting themselves. When the last guy I mentioned announced he was quitting, I told him "good for you".

He still plays, but not nearly as often. His ranking is down 150 levels or so, but the guy needs to work on his real life and spend time with his wife and stuff.

Yeah, no offense to Blizzard, but the competitive nature of their games produces dangerous behavior in terms of addiction as well as "rage" or "flaming".

All games have those issues, but in my experience it has been worse with Starcraft and Warcraft than any other franchise.

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