Study: Men More Likely to Become Game-Addicted

February 5, 2008 -
A Stanford University researcher claims that men are more likely to develop a video game addiction than women.

As reported by Palo Alto's KCBS-AM:
A first-of-its-kind imaging study showed that the part of the brain that generates rewarding feelings is more active in men than women during video game play, said senior research scientist, Dr. Fumiko Hayft.

Hayft told KCBS' Rebecca Corral:
The reward regions, which are also overlapping with the regions that are related to addiction, tend to be more coherent and active in males more than females while they were playing a computer game.

GP: No game was specified in the news report, but researcher Hayft noted that men seemed to naturally understand that conquering territory was an important victory condition:
We didn't tell [test subjects] to gain more territory which was the implicit, sort of hidden goal, and males were able to learn faster and eventually gain more territory than females.


Thats just weird.

Apparently they didn't study women playing The Sims...

"The reward regions, which are also overlapping with the regions that are related to addiction, tend to be more coherent and active in males more than females while they were playing a computer game."

ergo, men are more likely to be addicted to anything.

There need to be more specifics on the study, like what game it was, as apparently it was just one game. For instance, would women find the game more rewarding if the game wasn't about "gaining territory"? Were all of the people studied previously gamers? More info is necessary for a study to really mean anything.

This report sounds like perfect "research" for the likes of Cooper Lawrence to "quote". We need much more specifics before we can make an informed opinion.

The thing I hate about all of these "studies" is that there is never a control group. Never any thought about whether the same results would be seen when taking part in other activities.

"A first-of-its-kind imaging study showed that the part of the brain that generates rewarding feelings is more active in men than women during video game play, said senior research scientist, Dr. Fumiko Hayft."

How do we know that the this part of the brain is not also more active in men when playing golf? Basketball? When succeeding at tasks at work? When completing any damn task at all! How damaging would it be to this claim to discover that the reward part of the brain is more active in men than women when balling up the napkin from your hotdog and scoring a 3 pointer into the wastepaper bin from across the room? I know I've done a little "YES" celebration about trivial things while my girlfriend looked at me funny.

[citation needed]

what game were played? was it just the one?
does this apply only to video games?

Video games are hard to confirm this study because there are so many different types of games. Maybe the game has too much gore, and this group of women don't really like gore, so they are not as into the game compare to males.

So, the fact that men feel more rewarded when they accomplish something in a video game means that they are more likely to be addicted? So, I guess that if men feel more rewarded when they accomplish parallel parking means they are likely to be addicted to that. Oh no, our cities will crumble as thousands of men spend all day driving in and out of roadside parking spaces.

Here's the way it works, you accomplish something, you feel rewarded. The fact that the brain is wired so that rewards and addiction overlap a little doesn't mean that they need to start sounding the sirens like that. It's human biology, hijacked to feed an agenda.

Oh no, this study doesn't look sexist motivated at all. [/sarcasm]

Thanks for stating the obvious that more guys play games, but we're not addicts.

Depends on the game, end of.

It seems that there's a typo in the article, it's not Fumiko Hayft. But Fumiko Hoeft. the reasons is that i couldn't get any results from my PSYCinfo database search. I'll find the corresponding article as soon as possible.

who sponsored this study? faux news, mickey d's, or a certain lawer im guessing.

Fact of the matter is there is no game with gameplay rich and immersing enough out there for anyone to get truly addicted and unable to stop playing. Sure, a person may obsess over a game and play it more than they usually might, but addiction implies a physiological need for the game to be played and I just can't see that happening.

There are no addictive games, only addictive personalities.

My wife doesn't play games normally, except when it comes to puzzle games. When I used to have Boune Out and Collapse on my PC she would play all the time! Something like say, Carrascone (which sort of mirrors the "capturing territory" motif) though? She wouldn't like that at all and would be bored.

So basing this whole thing on just *one* game is ludicrous. Additionally, just because the pleasure centers overlap with areas associated with addiction does not actually indicate a liklihood of addiction. I bet that if you had the men playing the game and the women eating chocolate you would get the same results for each...does that mean that they're addicted to chocolate?

I'd like to know the relative experience each had playing video games, if this was done using Americans there's a good chance that the female group was playing video games for the first time in their lives whereas the male group knew very well what they were doing.

I swing by GP every morning because it amuses me. Clearly, I'm addicted. (That must mean you're an enabler, Dennis!) ;D

Ugh, another men vs. women study. These typically are epic fail. Male/Female aggregate sudies are the result of societal norms. Individual males and female can be shown to have identical reactions.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

Breaking News: Men are territorial and work on expanding their area of influence....

Next: The Sky is Blue and the Sea is a bit wet.....

I'd like to know a bit more about this study before I pass judgment but it seems to be flawed in at least one glaringly obvious way. Two actually. Like it was already stated there was no control group - no mean data by which to determine any sort of deviation from that would signify "addiction". The other issue is it would seem to be that only one game, or type of game, was played. If the game is about conquering territory - let's go with something quiet literally just about that such as the Total War series - then we can assume war and conquest was a major part of whatever title they were presented with. This faults the study as these types of titles are intended for men almost exclusively - that's not to say women don't play them but let's be realistic the only way Hello Kitty Island Adventure is going to end up next to Age of Empires is if somebody screws up the alphabetizing. If they are intended for men then men will be more rewarded by them naturally. If they were able to present two comparable titles with an equal reward balance to the respective gender then this would garner more of a reliable result. What they've basically gone and done is present a Playboy to a frat-house and a sorority. But since most games are marketed to a male audience then of course men more men will play them so it's a larger sample distribution and therefore a larger probability of a single member becoming "addicted". That took half of a smidgen of grade 9 algebra to figure out. Her research is bad and she should feel bad...

ChrowX said it already - "There are no addictive games, only addictive personalities."

Stay Classy,

bull shit

[...] Brain scan study for addiction in video games (Hoeft et al., in press) had posted a study that was mentioned by a news radio about how men are more likely to be addicted to video games than women. Following the comments in, it seems that again we need someone to read the article directly in order to present all the information to prevent any misinformation. [...]

Perhaps this "study" is only showing that games are still being primarily focused at a male audience. If that is the case, you are bound to engange the men through the game than the women. In fact, this is a far simpler explanation than claiming "addiction."

That's just how male and female brain chemistry works. It is hardwired into our brains because of the way the gender roles evolved. Men were providers, typically hunters concerned with getting a kill and bringing home the food, and crafting. Women were caretakers, tasked with rearing children, preparing the food, knowing what plants were useful, etc.

Males tend to be "goal-oriented" and females tend to be "detail-oriented". That is not to say that women can't achieve goals or that men don't pay attention to details, but in general this is how it works. Our brains are gifted enough to apply reason and think about things, but our instincts remain in the brain too.

Consider shopping... if a guy needs to buy socks, he goes to the store, figures out where the socks are, picks some out, and goes to pay. If a female needs to buy socks, she goes to the store, browses all the items on the way to the socks, considers how the socks will match with her shoes and her other clothes, picks out some shoes and some other clothes, picks out some socks, browses the jewelry on the way to the counter, and so on...

Another factor is the way people react to situations, especially emergencies. Women tend to react emotionally, considering how they and other people feel about the situation, what needs to be done to soothe the situation and make people comfortable. Men tend to react analytically, detaching themselves from the situation to examine the conditions and what needs to be done to solve the problem. Again, it is overgeneralizing because women still process situations and find solutions, and men still experience emotional responses to things, but the instincts are for men to solve the problem and for women to take care of the people involved.

Finally, men and women just tend to "compete" in totally different ways. The way that men compete is much more suited to video gaming. Men will compete over anything, from who can do the most push-ups, to who can be the first to call "shotgun" when riding in a car, to who can chug their soda the fastest. The competition tends to have a clear goal and it is easy to know who the winner is. Men compete fiercely with each other, but when it's over, they are back to being the best of friends.

The way women compete is more nuanced and harder to explain, but it plays out over long social scenarios and victory is not so easy to determine. Being male my perspective on this whole subject is admittedly biased, but I believe that females are actually much more competitive than males are. The competition happens in gossip, girl talk, and at social events. Who has the better career, more successful spouse, who had a more lavish wedding, who wears the biggest diamond, and so on. If you have ever seen what happens when two women show up to the same party with the exact same outfit, you get a glimpse of how competitive women can really be.

I think that there are two types of games that appeal more to women's instincts, the puzzle games that challenge their detail-oriented nature, and the MMO games that have a social element layered in. The Sims has a little mix of both and is hugely popular with women. Games like first-person shooters and sports games are more suited to the male sense of competition, and thats why men prefer those. As more female developers start working in the industry, games will be developed that have more feminine appeal.

I don't really see how this study can lead to ANY conclusions about addiction, however. It's about competition... reward mechanisms in the brain don't necessarily cause dependency on the reward conditions.

You put genders into any situation where territory is an issue and, as far as humans and most other primates are concered, it's usually the males that are the ones responsible for controlling and expanding the territory, apart from some exceptions like Bonobos most primates work on a Patriarchal system. Women tend to be less territorial than men.

Put that into a game situation and of course the males are going to act true to their nature and be more into gaining territory and protecting their existing territory, how they made a link to 'addiction' is utterly beyond me, I must admit, it's more a study into human nature than a study into game addiction.

Robert Gauss also makes an interesting point, that most games are already aimed at males.

[...] Quem aqui nunca teve que explicar pra namorada/noiva/esposa que aquela corrida online na sexta a noite é importante e que treinar antes, bem na hora daquele filme romântico, é fundamental para você ? Bom, o Dr. Fumiko Hayft, professor da Universidade de Stanford, tem uma explicação dos motivos que levam os homens a se interessarem muito mais por jogos eletrônicos que as mulheres. [...]

I bet the only game they tested was World Of Warcraft.

Did the study mention the ratio between male and female test subjects at all?

ummm....One question.

When has the theory of 'Gaining Territory' and 'rewarding' on a game ever relate to game addiction????

Plus I thought in Psychological research that you just can't make generalizations until you have criticized your own research results...


No, real psychologists today apparently believe that their opinion about what videogames do is sufficient cause to excoriate them as violent, addictive, and generally harmful. You're talking about actual scientific research, and and they've pretty much given up on research that actually requires research. Or facts. Or controls. Or repetition. You know, the hallmarks of real science, as opposed to junk science.

Junk Science makes for flashier headlines for stupider audiences.

I thought that "game addiction" wasn't a recognized form of addiction.


In a sense yes - however it is a valid avenue of query to suppose that something with such a high level of pleasure, which is really a testament to how well games are made if you think about it, could result in activating a response similar to addiction. Different schools of psych classify it in two levels where we see both a mental and this is key - a physical dependency. I've got pacman fever but I'm not going to get the shakes like I just got off a two week smack bender if I stop playing for a while. What I believe, or am at least hoping, that these studies are trying to discover is the mental, or rather "desire", addiction. This is often referred to as the "5-minutes-more" type of addiction wherein the subject will spend several large time portions focusing on the activity in question. Have you ever played a game late into the night even though you had to get up early the next day? It's somewhat strange to think they fund studies to figure out why people like to do fun things more so than other less fun things - but they seem to be ignoring the different roles an individual's initial dispensation towards addiction might be and applying it towards an unrelated group.

I ended up making a more detailed post at my blog here:

I found the original story and what the game sampled actually was, which added a lot to the study, though there are still some issues.
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