Gaming 'Addiction' Isn't as Debilitating as We Thought, Study Finds

By Seth Ferranti 12/06/16

A large global study found that excessive gaming isn't as harmful as we've been led to believe.

A gamer at a computer wearing headphones.

In a new study, Internet Gaming Disorder: Investigating the Clinical Relevance of a New Phenomenon, which was published in November by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), researchers wanted to find out if internet gaming can turn into a serious addiction like gambling. The results showed that although internet gamers lost time while gaming, they didn’t lose money like gambling addicts. The only potential negative impact was missing work as a result of excessive gaming. Gamblers lose money and then complicate the matter by losing more and more as they seek an unattainable win. A gamer just hits the reset button.

“Contrary to what was predicted, the study did not find a clear link between potential addiction and negative effects on health,” one of the study's authors, Dr. Andrew Przybylski of the Oxford Internet Institute, told Forbes. “However, more research grounded in open and robust scientific practices is needed to learn if games are truly as addictive as many fear. Importantly, the great majority of gamers–nearly three in four–reported no symptoms at all that we would link with addictive gaming behavior.”

Almost 19,000 men and women from the UK, US, Canada and Germany were surveyed for the study. Less then three percent reported feeling stressed out if they reduced their gaming time; this is a much smaller number than what is seen in similar research on gambling addiction, which represents the best behavioral addiction comparison. The results don’t support theories on gaming addiction described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) Task Force in 2012, which stoked many people's fears.  

Other studies have reported that video game addiction is more prevalent among young men but at the end of the day it turns out it's more about individual preferences. One person might think playing video games is a waste of time while another finds it to be a perfectly acceptable form of recreation. With no detrimental effects for the serious gamer other than losing time, Internet Gaming Disorder may not be a clinically relevant phenomenon after all.

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.