A new study published by the Association for Psychological Science has taken an examination of the clinical diagnosis of Gaming Addiction and determined there is no science to support the the existence of said diagnosis. Authored by Professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Dr Netta Weinstein, senior lecturer at the University of Cardiff School of Psychology, determined dysfunctional gaming habits were not caused by the product itself, but is an outlet for “frustrated needs in daily life.” In layman’s terms the study is saying what most people have already said and already know: that video games are the coping mechanism for other problems, not the problem itself.
Utilizing the principles of Open Science (IE the ability to replicate the study and demonstrate the methodology in an open fashion for peers to examine) and applying Motivational Theory based upon self determinism theory (You’re more than your genes and environment) the study took a look at over 1,000 teenagers and their caregivers the study determined that video games were a refuge rather than the cause of negative behavior itself.
Further the study determined there was little evidence that excessive or obsessive gaming produced by itself negative adolescent outcomes. All those single mothers who blame Fortnite for being addictive rather than parenting their kids just got BTFOed by science.
The study goes on to point out the flaws in previous works that were used as the establishing body of evidence for Gaming Addiction. How ultimately they cannot be replicated and were based upon sample sizes that were intentionally cultivated to derive a set outcome.
“First, although the greatest concerns relating to dysregulated gaming have focused on young people (Egli & Meyers, 1984), no studies to date have examined the motivational dynamics of dysregulated gaming among adolescents. Second, though BPNT has been applied to a number of investigations of gaming, only one has adopted a theory-testing approach (i.e., Weinstein et al., 2017). The other studies were exploratory, relied on convenience samples, and depended on self-reports of motivation, functioning, and gaming provided by participants, making it difficult to know definitively how psychological-need experiences relate to dysregulated play. “
Talking with Gamesindustry Przybylski summed up the study by saying: “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.”
While there isn’t any discernible evidence that video games can be addictive, that isn’t the end of the issue. At the core of it video games by themselves are not addictive, but publishers and developers can incorporate psychologically manipulative mechanics that increase both player engagement and expenditure. A key example of this phenomena are loot boxes that have been determined to be similar to gambling evoking similar responses in persons utilizing them that you would see out of people using games in a casino.
Researchers have consistently requested the data collected by companies who make the majority of their revenue through the exploitative mechanisms only to be stonewalled by the industry. Whose primary concern is withholding personalized data and spending trends under which would be needed by researchers to demonstrate exploitative mechanics and to determine the science and effectiveness behind them.
We can now prove is that gaming by itself isn’t addictive. That as many have said it is merely a coping mechanism that can become negatively habitual to the point it interferes with a person’s lie. What the science shows is that external causes not gaming itself that leads to this behavior and those external causes need to be addressed rather than taking away the person’s coping mechanism.
Sadly yet to come is further research into lootboxes and the other exploitative technologies companies patent with the intention of exploiting consumers. As gamers it falls to us to spread the word of the separation and lack of correlation between the two as the industry will inevitably attempt to misrepresent the two pools of scientific data to further their own corporate agendas.