Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

More Than Just a Game



By Olivia Metcalf

Excessive video gamers have the same physiological disturbances and disrupted thought processes as those addicted to substances and gambling.

Olivia Metcalf recently submitted her PhD at the Research School of Psychology, Australian National University. If you are worried about your own or a loved one’s behaviour please contact Lifeline for support on 13 11 14.

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Video gaming has become a popular pastime, with 94% of Australian children playing video games regularly. The increasing popularity of video games is partly because the internet has changed the way we play.

Offline video games are typically played against computer-generated characters, have a defined ending, and are played as solo experiences. Online gaming is typically played against other human characters, making them much more social experiences. They also have no defined ending, so the game is less likely to become repetitive or boring.

While most online gamers play for entertainment, relaxation or socialisation, there is growing evidence that a minority of gamers develop an unhealthy relationship with games.

A new area of psychology has been growing since the late 1990s to investigate the ways in which humans interact with technology and how technology affects us. Known as cyberpsychology, this area of research has been investigating the nature of excessive gaming – or more broadly, excessive use of any internet feature.

“Internet addiction” was first described in 1995 – as a joke. Fast forward to 2013, and the American Psychiatric Association is considering formally recognising “internet use disorder”, with subtypes such as excessive online gaming or excessive online gambling, as a mental health disorder.

Cyberpsychologists use...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.