Computer games are one of the most controversial topics in modern psychology and cause the most discussion and debate among scientists. Many possible negative effects are associated with computer games. They are seriously feared by parents, teachers, doctors. They often talk about the emergence of addiction to computer games, that games with aggressive content make people more violent in real life. They discuss the impact of games on the cognitive development of children and adolescents, adults and even the elderly.
When it comes to discussing actual research, the findings are often not as clear-cut as they may appear in the public mind. For each area of computer game research, there are a number of key issues and a number of perspectives that are addressed by different scholars.
In the summer of 2018, computer games were included in the International Classification of Diseases. Prior to that, they were not included in any classification of diseases. True, in the fifth edition of the DSM – the American manual of psychiatric and psychological diseases – addiction to online video games was listed in the section of phenomena in need of further study. Computer games were not recognized, but were put on the record by the relevant associations.
Internet addiction, although it is a broader and more widespread phenomenon, is still not recognized anywhere – also because behind this name there can be a variety of possible addictions. Internet addictions can include addiction to computer games, to social media, to online socializing, even to cybersex. There is no single factor in the onset of addiction.
Addiction to computer games belongs to the group of behavioral, or non-chemical, addictions (addictions). These are addictions that are not related to the intake of a chemical substance into the body from the outside, but are associated with a certain behavioral pattern, with actions that cause certain emotions and therefore become compulsive. There are behavioral addictions to a wide variety of activities. There is an idea of socially desirable addictions – this is, for example, workaholism or addiction to sports.
Computer games are feared and no one wants to be addicted to them. Although scientists recognize the existence of addiction to computer games, it is believed that only a small percentage of people (even among children and adolescents) are at risk of addiction. This is not due to the nature of gaming activity, but to the psychological characteristics of people. On the one hand – with the presence of specificity at the level of the brain. On the other hand – with surrounding developmental factors, problems in the family, problems with other people and so on.
Only those video games that manage to properly build a reward system for their users become popular. A person who plays such a game feels a boost and is motivated to continue, which leads to addictive behavior. To feel good, one needs to play the game. But when the person finishes playing, it turns out that the brain’s dopaminergic system has been depleted even more, and the person feels more tired.
The study by a group of scientists from the Third Medical University shows that the most vulnerable to the emergence of such fixation are adolescents – people who go through certain changes in humoral regulation, with signs of psychoasthenia, that is, quickly fatigued, with low performance. They have a serious risk of computer-game addiction.
Some games require financial investments, in this case players can use Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, or any other payment method they fancy.
No matter how much time a person plays computer games, this alone cannot be considered a criterion for the presence or absence of addiction. The main sign recognized by The Scientist Community is the emergence of problems with the implementation of other activities in everyday life. People not only stop paying proper attention to work or study, family, but also start sleeping less, may forget to eat.
Among the signs highlighted by scientists, there is also insensitivity to the occurrence of these problems. A person denies the fact that he stops sleeping, eating, working. The criteria from the ICD still include a certain amount of time spent at the game, the inability to control it, as well as the persistence of symptomatology for a long time.
Computer game addiction is quite rare. According to estimates that were made by different authors even before the appearance of official criteria, the percentage of people with computer game addiction among the most vulnerable category – adolescents – ranges from 1-3 to 10%. The most common figures are 7-8%. This is not so little, but also not so much as fixed in the public consciousness. Many people in response to the question of how many people have game addiction, mention figures of about 20-30%, which is completely untrue.
The next problem is computer games and aggressiveness. Especially this problem is discussed in connection with the popularization of computer sports, or cybersports. Since 2016, computer sport has been recognized as an official sport in Russia. There is talk that computer games competitions may be included in Olympic sports or other intellectual games competitions. This raises the question of the threats to people who actively play computer games.
The experts conclude, that all video games can be part of well-balanced healthy lifestyle if enjoyed in moderation.
This article was written by Grace Tennet, a gambling specialist with a passion for gaming and its impact on personal development.