In today's main Gamasutra feature, University researcher Neils Clark presents this survey of the state of research on addiction and video games, including the problems that can crop up with definitions of 'addiction', and some of the latest findings on how games influence humans.
In this extract, Clark discusses some of the recent research and what it means regarding addiction:
"German researchers Sabine Grüsser and Ralf Thalemann have suggested that some gamers exhibit signs traditionally associated with addiction: susceptibility to triggers and diminished startle reflex. Grüsser additionally reflects our earlier conversation on addiction by saying that as one activity comes to be used exclusively in order to deal with adversity, it becomes the only behavior that can activate the brain's dopamine system, and that such chemical monopolization is common to all addictions.
Is this great news for journalists, unpopular politicians, or groups such as Online Gamers Anonymous and EverQuest Widows? First off, keep in mind that much of the research in this field is above all preliminary in nature. Moreover, so far research has simply suggested that at most, people are becoming addicted to games, not that games themselves are actually responsible for addicting people. The difference is subtle, yet significant. It also helps to keep in mind that certain works in psychology and the humanities are not entirely definitive."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including plenty more information on the research and theories behind addiction and video game addiction (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).