February 8, 2013

‘Call of Duty’ … and other drugs??

X-Box, Playstation, Wii: The platform doesn't change the problem any more than switching from vodka to wine can change alcoholism.

Why are we talking about this, you ask?

Video games just might be addictive — which anyone who has ever lived with a compulsive gamer already had a hunch about.   

Research conducted by Australian National University psychologist Olivia Metcalf shows that addicted gamers have trouble focusing on other tasks and can't stop themselves from thinking about video games, even when they try not to.

“People who spend an excessive amount of time playing video games are powerless to stop themselves from thinking about gaming,” says Metcalf, who did the research for her PhD at the Australian National University. “This is a pattern typical of addiction.”

To gather the research, she found volunteers falling into three groups: those who were believed to be addicted; those who were regular players but who were not addicted; and a control group of non-players. They were tested for their responses to gaming-related words.

“We found that the attention system of an excessive gamer gives top priority to gaming information,” she said. “Even if they don't want to think about gaming, they're unable to stop themselves.”

Metcalf said that the phenomenon, known as attentional bias, is common among heroin, tobacco, alcohol and gambling addicts.

Attentional bias is believed to be a factor in the development of all addictions..

With gaming, the health risks associated with other addictions are not a factor. However, Metcalf notes, the time and money spent on gaming certainly can become a problem with far-reaching effects into a person's personal and professional life.



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