Dr. Daniel King, from the University of Adelaide's (Adelaide, South Australia) psychology department says that the definition of video game addiction has yet to be defined because of the model that most researchers have used – namely borrowing from the framework of gambling addiction. He believes that treatments of the addiction to games could be improved if a "standard definition of video game addiction was adopted."
Dr. King says that he has reviewed research into harmful video game behavior and finds that there seems to be no clear consensus on what constitutes pathological gaming and using the gambling addiction or substance abuse doesn't work very well.
"Although there are some similarities, video gaming is not the same as gambling," Dr King tells News.com.au. "Pathological video gaming has its own set of addictive components which can be distinct to internet gambling or other behaviours like online shopping and using social media."
"We need to better understand the unique elements of pathological video gaming," he adds.
Dr. King goes on to say that people affected by pathological gaming often suffer serious consequences in their relationships, careers, sleeping habits, and overall health. But it is tough to treat an addiction if that addiction is not defined. Interestingly, video game addiction is not officially recognized as a real addiction by the worldwide mental health professionals like gambling or substance abuse.
"For most people, playing video games adds value and enjoyment to their lives and we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it's okay to be 'healthily obsessed' with games," he said. "But for those people who have a problem, we can do more to understand and treat them."