Video games as addictive as gambling: study

ABC News 25 November 2012
A Canberra psychology researcher has confirmed what many have long suspected – video games can be just as addictive as gambling or alcohol.
As part of her PhD at the Australian National University, Olivia Metcalf found excessive gamers were unable to stop thinking about gaming when they tried to focus on other tasks. This “attentional bias” is a phenomenon found across heroin, alcohol and gambling addictions. “We didn’t find that pattern in people who play video games but don’t experience any negative symptoms,” Ms Metcalf said. “So it’s not something that occurs because you do a behaviour a lot. It’s some sort of change that occurs in your attention system, in your brain, when an addiction is developing. “So we found this core sign of addiction in these thinking systems of these people who play games excessively.” Ms Metcalf says her research is some of the first scientific evidence that video gaming can be addictive. “We know that people are gaming excessively but we’re not sure yet what type of problem that is,” she said.