Anyone with a friend or family member obsessed with video games could probably see how this hobby might be considered an addiction. But can video games actually be addictive?
In Clarity Way’s most recent infographic, we explore the origins of video game obsessions and the risk factors that could determine if you have an addiction to video games.
How could a video game be addictive?
Technically, people can develop an addiction to just about anything. Addiction occurs when one feels a sense of reward after doing something, consuming something, or experiencing something. Hence, you can have people who are addicted to adrenaline rushes, shopping or even – you guessed it – video games.
The psychology behind an addiction to video games
The self-determination theory (SDT) is a broad framework that psychologists use to understand human motivation. The theory states that when people are able to feel autonomy (individuality), competence and relatedness (related to others; social interaction), they become highly motivated.
Video games satisfy all three of these motivational needs, thus motivating people who play video games regularly to play them again.
Furthermore, studies have suggested that video games can elevate dopamine levels in the brain, thus making players experience a reward sensation when gaming. Over time, this could turn into an addictive behavior.
Which games are the most addictive?
Research conducted by Thomas and Martin in 2010 suggests that Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) are the most addictive kinds of video games. This could potentially be because MMORPGs allow players to create avatars and live in the game world via said characters. Considering that many gamers play to escape the “real world,” the alternate worlds of MMORGPS offer refuge to many of the gamers who play them.
Furthermore, research has shown that games that involve a character’s “leveling up” are more addictive than games where the main character remains “static.” The same is true of games that have a socially interactive aspect about them. Games that allow players to interact with other players are more addictive than games where the player has no interaction with other people.
MMORPGs generally include both the leveling and social interaction aspects characteristic of addictive games.
Factors that put gamers at risk of addiction
Of course, not everyone who plays video games develops an addiction to them. However, people who feel a lack of accomplishment in the real world, or who have a history of impulsive behavior, may be of higher risk than others.
Likewise, children and teens who have a poor academic record or who behave badly in school are more likely to be addicted to video games than those who do not. This is also true of youth who lack parental support and attention, along with youth whose parents are separated.
The silver lining
While an addiction to video games could result in a number of physical and emotional effects, there is hope. Research suggests that, when played in moderation, some video games can help players develop the parts of their brains responsible for muscle control, memory formation and even strategic planning.
You can read all the details about video game addictions below in the Are Video Games Addictive Infographic.
If you or someone you know has a serious addiction, get help for them today.