Losing Control: a Survey on Video Game Addiction

With the World Health Organization announcing it’ll officially recognize video game addiction as a mental disorder and countries like China taking extreme measures aimed at curbing the problem, video game addiction has recently gotten a lot of attention. 

But are gamers really taking their hobby too far? My team at Clutch, the platform aimed at helping gamers find community, was curious to know. Using a modified version of the Greenfield Video Game Addiction Test, we survey over 1,570 gamers to find who is most likely to be exhibiting gaming-dependent behaviors, which games are the most addictive, and what parts of their lives would gamers be willing to give up for their game. A quick look at what we found: 
  • Over 1 in 4 (27.8%) gamers in our survey exhibit gaming-dependent behaviors that correspond with potential video game addiction
  • Games with the most players exhibiting gaming-dependent behaviors? Minecraft, Red Dead Redemption, and For Honor
  • Women are more likely to be prone to video game addiction: women spend more minutes per gaming session and are more likely to play games every day
  • Minecraft also has the highest number of adult players who still depend on their parents for financial support
You can view the full study here: Video Game Addiction

As with any health-related issue, more clinical research is required before links can be made between video games and addiction. But the self-reported experience of the gamers in our study does seem to indicate that there are some games and gamers that are more correlated with addictive behavior than others. - Nelson Garcia

Video Game Addiction... hmmm. It can definitely be a problem, even if we love gaming and our interest in games is huge... we still need and indulge in downtime and non-gaming related activities. It's not the only addiction out there, like some people can sit around and watch TV the entire day... binge-watching show after show losing track of time and so on (but it can certainly be one).

I'm not a doctor, even if I was in the Mental Health field at one point... but if I can give any suggestions it would be to apply some moderation to everything you do. Variety is a beautiful thing, and we've mentioned this when it comes to game genres to avoid burn out but... even when it comes to gaming it doesn't hurt. Get outside, get away from the screen, play a tabletop RPG with friends or get with your favorite people and... do something else.

The data about Minecraft players is the most shocking, but... at the same time, there are all sorts of reasons some people log many hours in games (it's not always an addiction vs being one of few options). Not saying that it should be done to an unhealthy degree, but... there are people who game more often than not because that's their social life. There are people who have no one to communicate with on a day-to-day basis as often as when they're gaming, some people live in rural areas... some people are new to certain areas and don't know anyone. The list goes on (i.e. those with certain physical challenges).

As far as being a dependent, I know for a fact that some people game a lot as an escape during that window of unemployment... and let's not forget about a large number of people with college degrees and nothing but debt to show for it. Unemployment isn't always a choice and I don't know anyone who job hunts 24 hours a day.

It can be extremely complicated, and in order for some to avoid being depressed... they game... sometimes a crap ton to avoid hopelessness from kicking in. In February 2019 the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that 17.3 million adults in the United States (alone) had at least one major depressive episode, which represents 7.1% of all adults in the Nation.

By the way, as gamers... many of us stream or know streamers who game for a living or have hopes to game for a living. There are also plenty of people making videos on YouTube, whether it be gaming or otherwise... in hopes of gaining enough followers, enough views, enough likes, and enough etceteras to make ends meet.

Scenarios vary and it's not always a hobby.

Ever seen some people walk away from their YouTube channels and streaming endeavors once they get a "good enough" job? I didn't say "just walk away" because it's not always that easy but... it makes sense if they're able to breathe easier and become more independent with their newfound opportunity. Some come back because it's still a passionate pass time... but not as often because that window of unemployment is now gone.

To sum it all up, it's complicated and one study won't be able to pinpoint everything related to those who log hours upon hours in games. For what it's worth, I do wish the best for those who are actually fighting a gaming addiction because other necessities can fall by the wayside... including one's health. Take care of yourself... and game on... responsibly!

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