Survey Says: One in Twelve Gamers Addicted

One in 12 gamers shows signs of addiction, according to a study being presented this week at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Congress.

Prof. Vladan Starcevic (left) of the University of Sydney told New Zealand’s NZTV that his team reached that conclusion after conducting an online survey of nearly 2,000 worldwide respondents:

Their whole lives revolve around this activity and there certainly seems to be a problem there – there is an addiction. And it seems to us that these people seem to… have other mental health issues, and it seems excessive video game playing is a manifestation of these underlying problems.

Problem gamers identified by the researchers were more prone to being socially isolated, at increased risk of depression and more likely to engage in compulsive behavior. Most seemed to play four or more hours per day and preferred MMOs like World of Warcraft. On the other hand, Starcevic noted that 92% of gamers displayed no problems with their gaming:

Most people who play video games are not problem video game players, to put it in simple terms, they’re not addicted to video games. It is a minority of people who seem to have a problem.

As GameCulture notes, the 8% figure arrived at by Starcevic is remarkably close to the 8.5% game addiction rate Iowa State Prof. Douglas Gentile reported in a study released jointly with the National Institute on Media and the Family last month. As GamePolitics has reported, Gentile’s research was criticized by ABC News Polling Director Gary Langer and Harvard’s Dr. Cheryl Olson, author of Grand Theft Childhood.

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  1. Yammo says:

    This is absoluyely hillarious, made me chuckle…

    If "respondents" means "persons" then 2000 is hardly enough to
    make any sort of "conclusion".

    Even if they had reached a statistical basis for making some sort
    of conclusion, there is to my knowledge not any psychological
    term called "game-addiction".

    Just imagine swapping "Gamer" to "Athlete-" or "Soccer-"

    -"Do you forget to do things when watching soccer games?"
    -"Do you feel irritated when you miss a soccer-game"?
    -"Do you get angry when your team doesn’t win?"

    I say, send England to rehab… they are clearly Soccer-Addicts!
    And in the name of neglected wifes all around the globe, let us
    ban this horrible game!… lol…

  2. Shkspr says:

    My wife was concerned that I was addicted to videogames.  With her help and support I found a wonderful 12 step program.  There’s just one problem.  I blew through all twelve steps in a week and a half of grinding and I’m finding endgame raid content sadly lacking.

  3. Monte says:

     Except their is the part where he mentions that those addicted to games also tend to suffer from mental conditions and then jumps right to the conclusion that those mental conditions was CAUSED by the game playing… nothing saying how they came to that conclusion and nothing saying whether or not they checked to see if those mental conditions existed BEFORE the gameplay… when you are gonna go around claiming that a person’s excessive gameplay has made them develop serious mental conditions i think THAT is a time when it’s a good idea to look into the past history of the people in question.

  4. zel says:

    It’s not about symantics, its about wheather or not the research is valid.

    Something like the sky being blue isn’t a matter of research and opinion, its a matter of fact at that point in time as the sky isn’t exactly always blue. At sunset its more of a gradient of red/orange to blue and at night its kinda black. Once in Duluth, Georgia there was a red sunset one day while i worked at publix in 1996, the whole sky light up a bright red and everyone in the parking lot just kinda stopped and stared at the sky as it passed, it was kinda wicked. When i lived in jersey it was quite often white from all the snow, but its funny because it was such an even, unyielding white you couldn’t tell it was cause of clouds or snow, it was just white as it is just blue on a sunny florida day. Of course i was like 7-12 when I lived in jersey so I used to think the sky just turned white cause it frosted up like a window in winter.

    Lets not make assumptions about whats been written here so let me just lay out in plain english what i am saying, no interpretation necessary:

    Online surveys being passed off as some kind of powerful insight into the mind of people playing video games is at best useless and at worst deceptive. Research that isn’t done right is worthless, may as well not be done. It would be like me doing a land survey with no tools for a land purchase. Sure I could get kinda close to being right, 75 feet by 660? sure lets just walk it out and stab some stakes into the ground. I wouldn’t start construction on a house with that kind of survey tho and in the end that kind of work is worthless, shoulda just done it right to begin with.

    but hey, thats just my opinion so if you like to go and accept this kind of research because you feel its right then by all means don’t let me get in your way. I’m just not a shot-in-the-dark kind of person.


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  5. Wormdundee says:

    Meh, sure I’ll never trust anything from an online survey, but 8% doesn’t sound outrageously wrong. I’d probably put it at 6%. I’m more worried about the politicians who will be referencing this for political gain or to push legislation. It makes game sound like terrible things. But I don’t believe that there is anyone alive who isn’t ‘addicted’ to at least one thing.

  6. Arell says:

    To be honest, you sound like you’re arguing over semantics to ignore something that’s actually becoming quite obvious.

    "90% of the people they surveyed at tonight’s College Frat party appeared to be drunk, but I’m not going to believe it until a truly scientific study with millions of dollars of backing confirms it.  Pass me another beer, would ya?"

    I mean, seriously, we all know people who obsessively game at the detriment of the rest of their life.  And if you’ve ever played an MMO, you’d know there’s a significant number of those obsessive gamers out there.  8%?  Probably.  The only thing left is to decide if you can truly categorize their behavior as "addictive."

    Denying that the sky is blue just because a study on the subject is questionable, doesn’t make the problem go away.

    I personally think they stop trying to point out the obvious, that there are obsessive gamers, and instead move on to identifying those individuals that need help.  And then getting them that help.

  7. zel says:

    I thought thats exactly what they were trying to do… ??

    "Their whole lives revolve around this activity and there certainly seems to be a problem there – there is an addiction."

    He focuses alot on "addiction to games" and only hints at underlying causes but he was pretty set on that.

    The other thing that irks me is how much he says "seems", he may as well come out and say it "we don’t really have anything conclusive at all, so i’ll say ‘seems’ so as to have room to backpedal later."


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  8. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    I conducted a video game survey myself at school this week. I’m hoping to get the results ASAP.


    "The sun will always rise tomorrow. We can only live for today, and hope more days will come." -Unknown

  9. J.Alpha.Gamma says:

    Last time I logged in, the highest number they had online was around 46,000…before the latest expansion, which was back in March. (Crappy finances offline. Had to suspend.)

    I do know they’ve grown exponentially since then, so I may have seriously underestimated. Hold on. *checks EVE site*

    Yup. They topped 300,000 on May 6th. Got a Media Momentum Award for it, too. Here’s the press release:

  10. ZAR says:

    2.000 participants, one study, over a rather short period of time only – and that’s supposed to be "scientific"?

    Well, maybe it’s better to ask who FINANCED the study and for what purposes it will be used.



  11. Brokenscope says:

    This is just my unproffessional opinion, but wouldn’t Compulsive videogame playing operate on the same mechanisms as compulsive gambling?

  12. Brokenscope says:

    Eve has more than 50k subs. 50k sounds more like how many players they have on at a given time.

  13. Brokenscope says:

    You only screen for preexisting conditions if you are trying to see if games are addictive on their own. Which I’m fairly certain wasn’t what he was trying to do.

    I’m fairly certain this guy was looking for risk factors that would predispose someone to becoming "addicted" to games.

    Though I would prefer a better methodology.


  14. zel says:

    I thinkthe reason we jump like that is becuase its stated plain as day this research was done using an online survey and they didn’t account for any pre-existing conditions, in fact he doesn’t even attempt to account for pre-existing conditions, he says so when he admits it could be something pre-existing, we don’t know.

    with that kinda of obvious, full of holes research, and goes to claim 8% addiction, its not hard to see why just skimming over it is scoff inducing. I might as well claim, hey guys i’ve done some research, i’ve gone back and thought about people i knew and 8% addiction rate for video games sounds about right.


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  15. Arell says:

    As long as the methodology is sound, I’ll wait to see if this study is disputed by scientific research before believing it or not.  I think too many people on this website are too quick to go, "nuh-uh!  Ain’t no problems associated with video games in any way!  Shut up!"

    To be honest, 8% obsessive gamers, vs. 92% well adjusted gamers, sounds about right from my own experience.  It really all comes down to whether you’re willing to accept the term "addiction" in relation to video game play.

  16. J.Alpha.Gamma says:

    Maybe they should stop looking at the question of "how often/long do these people play these games" and start looking at how much MMOs like WoW appeal to basic human nature.

    Because when you compare the two, MMOs do appeal to our most primal human wants and desires more than real life.

    That may also explain why MMOs like WoW and City of Heroes get millions of subscribers, while games like EVE Online (which works on many of the same principles as…real life) only get arond 50,000.

  17. Monte says:

    The part i seriously question the most is the statement that the mental problems have their root in the video game playing… i mean how exactly do they determine what caused what… i knew a guy in college who suffered from depression, just stayed in his room, played WoW all day, and eventually dropped out… but it seemed the depression came first; so his WoW playing and anti-social tendencies seemed to be an offshoot of his pre-existing depression…

    So what exactly makes them say that the video games lead to the mental health issues, instead of pre-existing mental health issues leading to excessive game play? 

  18. TBoneTony says:


    I would like to calmly ask a few questions if I was ever going to meet this person on the street.


    1. Have you ever played Videogames? Like played videogames for fun?

    2. Do you aknowlage that adults play Videogames just like how there are adults who watch TV or read books?

    3. Do you conduct your conclusions based on scientific accuratecy or do you just make conclusions just to make newswothry information.

    4. Do you also feel that Addiction to Alcohol & Drugs and addiction to Gambling is more of a problem rather than just addiction to Videogames/TV/Books?

    5. Do you think that the attention to Videogame Addiction is more to do about Parents of an older generation having no understanding of what Videogames are? And that the negative information about Videogames on the mainstreem news could be affecting how gamers are able to socially communicate to people in real life?



    I personally believe that there is no such thing as Videogame Addiction, but there is more of a Stigma to Videogames because of how society precives Videogames to be the problem, but it could be more about how other people treat Videogamers in a negative way that could be driving that sort of negative steriotype that forces many gamers to isolate themsevles from society because they are more happier playing Videogames with people who enjoy gaming rather than talking to people in real life who are more likely to give them a hard time because they are a gamer.



  19. Nitherean says:

    So, a ‘researcher’ and self proclaimed ‘doctor’, says he did a ‘scientific’ study.  2000 people he says responded to an online survey?  Did he interview even 99% of these people?  Find out their past histories?  Any other mental, emotional, physical, or financial problems that could be the real problem to so much ‘addition’ of games?


    Anyone who gives a long range diagnosis, without ever meeting the person face to face, and studying them at length, generally should NEVER be taken seriously.

    I could create a survey that shows people who are Jack Thompson, 95% of the time, vote Republican.  I just open to the internet.  Once I get even 12 responses of ‘yes’, I close it, and make the rest of the crap up.  What kind of lame person with a Ph.D. tries to argue this crap?


  20. SimonBob says:

    New survey out!  Everybody jump up and down, scoff at the methodology, and dismiss its veracity without looking at the source article!

    Wayyy down at the bottom, they note that a full thirty percent of the surveyed gamers were playing more than four hours a day, which means two things: first, that a solid majority of gamers do have some sense of restraint, and second, that "excessive" gaming isn’t necessarily driven by compulsion or addiction.

    I’d still like to hear more about how they did it, but from the conclusions they’ve drawn, I wouldn’t say this is a blatant scare-piece the way the NIMF one was.

    The Mammon Philosophy

  21. Chaplain99 says:

    I’d say I believe it if the ratio was more like 1:100, but 1:12?  Really?  Nuh-uh.


    EDIT: Okay, let me rephrase that; I’d WANT to say I believe it if the ratio wasn’t so skewed.


    "HEY! LISTEN!"

  22. asmodai says:

    Regardless of the veracity of the survey, the number 1 in 12 is pretty damn low for addictive purposes.

    In 04-05 in Australia, roughly 23% of the adult population were daily smokers, or ~ 1 in 5.

    I don’t think survey’s (if accurate) are a bad thing, and his sample size is not ludicrously small, but as with all things, context is very important.  If you proclaim 1 in 12 are addicted, it sounds bad.  If you put it against alcohol or tobacco addiction, it rapidly becomes apparent that 1 in 12 is probably exceptionally good considering how many think we’re just mindwiped zombies drooling in front of our PC or console of choice… ; )


  23. Conejo says:

    how many football fans are addicted to football?

    Here are we — and yonder yawns the universe.

  24. Meohfumado says:

    So people who are prone to doing things compulsively might play video games compulsively?

    Wow…great study there guys….

    "You know what I wish? I wish all the scum of the Earth had one throat and I had my hands about it."

  25. jedidethfreak says:

    Not to mention that 2000 people from a population of 6 billion is hardly a large enough random sample.  2000 people in a multi-county area, maybe, but not a planet.


    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say ANYTHING, so long as it is the truth. This does not exclude anything that might hurt someone’s feelings.

  26. Shoehorn Oplenty says:

    "And it seems to us that these people seem to… have other mental health issues, and it seems excessive video game playing is a manifestation of these underlying problems."

    So in doing a survey intended to find data regarding a psychological addiction they failed to control or screen for pre-existing mental conditions? Wow.

  27. hellfire7885 says:

    Tell that to those who will cite this poll. Odds are Atkinson will be among the first.

  28. GoodRobotUs says:

    I simply don’t trust online surveys. Look at NIMF’s survey regarding whether people consider Video Games to be a problem for example, no doubt that will be written off because ‘only gamers contributed’, and, to my mind, there’s a tendency to pick and choose survey results to display the image you want. Especially if you consider an earlier poll that supposedly stated that a large percentage of the US wanted game legislation.

    In defence of the people running the poll though, they did emphasise the fact that this was, in no way, conclusive evidence.


  29. Neeneko says:

    Yeah, that MMO bit just screamed ‘they are doing the wrong kind of socializing’ rather then ‘they are socially isolated’.

    Outside that the thing that bugs me about this survey.. depressed isolated people.. how dare they find an activity that they derive enjoyment from!  Games have been a real boon to people who would otherwise be pretty misserable.

    I always get the feeling that people like this really want misserable people out where they can be seen and looked down upon.

  30. TBoneTony says:

    Regardless of what these people believe, games like World of Warcraft and NOT socially isolated that some people might think.

    I would even say that World of Warcraft is allot like email but in a Videogame type of way, it allows people to talk and chat with eachother while playing the game itself.

    But sadly, people who don’t play games at all will never understand this. That is why I am verry skeptical of people who use World of Warcraft and relate it to social isolation from other people.

    I can tell these people are just jumping to conclusions without understanding what they are talking about.


  31. zel says:

    "an online survey of nearly 2,000 worldwide"

    Survey is debunked in 3….2….1….

    "…being socially isolated"   "…and preferred MMOs like World of Warcraft"   wait, what?


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  32. zel says:

    MEE TOO!  i’m even forced to be on-call so that anytime they want to call me up I have to go work! its worse that being on-call for wow raids!


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  33. SinisterInfant says:

    I always look at those qualifications for game addictions and realize… boss is forcing me to be addicted to my job!  I have to be here for like 8 hours a day and am often isolated in my cubicle for hours at a time.  Often I suffer from depression because it sux here!  I’m addicted to work!  Please medicate me!

  34. Michael Chandra says:

    If other issues cause you to play games that much, does it truly count as an addiction? By labelling it as such, the blame is put on the games, while he himself admits the blame is on other issues. In other words, his vocabulary appears to be rather limited for him to use such a poor choice of words.

  35. Galthromir says:

    In this guy’s credit, he never says games themselves are the cause of anything, that any percieved "addiction" seems to be a manifestation of underlying issues. While I’m skeptical about the numbers , I would agree that there is a small portion of gamers who could be classified as addicted. Yet these are people who would find some other addiction if video games magically vanished tommorow.

  36. Avalongod says:

    I agree with other posters…conducting the survey on-line is an obvious confound that is likely to increase the prevalence rates (it’s kind of like going onto an ICU ward to conduct a cancer prevalence rate study)…no offense to those frequently on-line, but you get my point I hope.

    Looks the study is only in a conference, not published in a peer-reviewed journal (conferences tend to have much lower standards for inclusion).

  37. lumi says:

    This appears to have the same massive flaw as the Iowa study.  How does he even pretend to pass an online survey off as a reliable and unbiased sample for anything scientific?

  38. BearDogg-X says:

    Yet another false "survey".

    Are we sure that this guy didn’t just copypasta Gentile’s "survey"?

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