Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

A few months back I wrote a post on the topic of the psychology video game addiction, and today was contacted by a student who trying to study video game addiction in efforts of finding an effective treatment.

A survey-based study being conducted by a Southern California university is now seeking anonymous participants to take the 4 minute online survey.

This study is sponsored by The Center for Survey Research at an anonymous private university in Southern California. The results will be used to help understand how video game addiction affects the lives and family members of those who are inflicted with this illness. In addition, this vital information will help further the understanding and pattern of depression in video game addicts, determining weather it is a beneficial angle of treatment.

All your answers will be kept completely anonymous and confidential. The questionnaire take about 4 minutes. Your participation is voluntary. If you have questions at any time about the survey or the procedures, you may contact Ginny at Ginn182@yahoo.com.

I would like to thank you in advance for your participation. Video game addiction is a devastatingly real challenge for thousands, both for families and addicts themselves, and with your help we may one day begin to better treat this disorder effectively.

If you would like to participate, please go here.

Comments

  1. #1 Tyler DiPietro
    April 23, 2007

    It looks more like they are looking for the perspective of third parties who know gaming addicts rather than the perspective of the gamers themselves. I didn’t continue the survey because it doesn’t seem applicable to me, but I wonder how that is going to provide any useful results.

    People play games with a abnormally high frequency for a multitude of reasons, it would probably help to interview the people they consider afflicted with the illness. People addicted to MMO’s do it for the constant escapism and sense of accomplishment, obviously. As an FPS fan, I can say I do it more for the rush and hyperstimulation than anything (it’s almost a non-chemical acid trip!). I don’t know what work has been done in that area, but it would be interesting to see the thought patterns of gaming addicts themselves.

  2. #2 Shelley
    April 23, 2007

    I agree Tyler, that it would be useful to survey addicts themselves. Perhaps some of the problem is that addicts don’t think/know that they are addicts, and it takes a outsider perspective to know that. Anyway, its an area I have some interest in and wanted to help out the student in getting some participants. Hopefully they’ll share the data with us at the end of it.

  3. #3 Zombie
    April 23, 2007

    “People addicted to MMO’s do it for the constant escapism and sense of accomplishment, obviously.”

    Not obviously at all, to me. If there’s such a thing as game addiction, that might be an aspect of it. But why don’t people fret about people getting addicted to single-player RPGs?

    The interesting part of MMOs is the social aspect of it. A lot of people play MMOs precisely because they’re social, and its the presence of friends (real or online) that keep them there, at least to some degree. I don’t think anyone’s going to get to the heart of gaming behavior until they get the social part of it.

  4. #4 Cameron
    April 23, 2007

    Obviouslly you can’t make broad generalizations about why people play excessive amounts of video games, especially if you don’t seperate them into RPGs and FPSs. I started the survey too before figuring out it wasn’t intended for the addicts themselves. (Though calling it a “devastatingly real challenge” should have tipped me off) Fortunately I know a lot of people that know me, so I sent it out to a few anti-video game naggers from my past.

    Good Luck, don’t forget to check out the everquest widows, they’ll eat this up.

  5. #5 Tyler DiPietro
    April 23, 2007

    Zombie,

    I think you are correct, upon reflection. I guess I assumed knowledge of something I didn’t have. I don’t play MMO’s, so I don’t know why people do. I’m guilty of the sins I accused others of! IRONY LOL!

    But in all seriousness, I get your point. I know why I play FPS’s with reckless abandon (I also play RTS’s like crazy, because of the god like feeling). But I don’t know why people play MMO’s. Sorry for being presumptuousness. :(

  6. #6 Tyler DiPietro
    April 23, 2007

    Erm…I mean “sorry for being presumptuous.” And while I’m at it, sorry for the lousy spelin and gammer.

  7. #7 Demosthenes
    April 23, 2007

    Shelley: While I can appreciate the sentiment, I’m deeply skeptical about the utility of such a study. The behavior of hobbyists (which, I’d argue, most MMORPG players are) isn’t necessarily going to be understood or appreciated by those who don’t share that hobby, to the latter’s irritation.

    (One example: there’s a new MMORPG coming out called “Warhammer Online”. It’s based on one of the most popular of those collectable miniature games where you buy thousands of dollars worth of little miniatures, spend hours upon hours (upon hours…) customizing and painting them, and then have your armies fight the other guy’s armies. Anybody who isn’t into this is going to wonder whether a sane person would POSSIBLY do this.

    (The hobbyist would, in return, ask how they could spend $499.95 on a pair of jeans, or $5000 on a television, or spend the day watching football. Or whatever.)

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t “addicted”, but it would seem that they aren’t especially objective here, especially on subjective questions like that “neglects family” question, where the question of what constitutes “neglect” comes up, or the question of whether the “lying about the amount of playing” (where it could be due to the SO being angry that the hobbyist in question is involved with it at all.)

    (Heck, pretty much every question on the third page is a subjective tossup. I’m not sure what “down” even constitutes, and the reason why people are loathe to stop playing is usually because you might be responsible for between 4-40 other people having wasted their evening, and aren’t that much of a jerk.)

    The biggest problem, though, is the issue that Zombie brought up. MMORPGs aren’t necessarily anti-social per se, because they’re all about socialization. Whether socialization of the Internet counts as “real” socialization is an excellent debate, but however you look at it, it muddies the water for people who aren’t involved in that process of socialization.

    Do the “internet people” matter as much as, say, one’s husband or wife? Nope. But I wouldn’t necessarily claim that they don’t matter at all.

  8. #8 Rob Knop
    April 24, 2007

    I’d take the survey, but I need to figure out how to finish this Grand Theft Auto mission first….

  9. #9 arcseed
    April 24, 2007

    On the other hand, I have clearly in the past used video games (of the non-MMO variety) to avoid thinking about real-life things that caused me anxiety. And spent an awful lot of time doing it too. Which is at least a big fat warning sign of addiction.

    I’m not sure that study is put together all that well, but it is an important issue and clearly worth studying.

  10. #10 Shelley
    April 24, 2007

    I’m not sure that study is put together all that well, but it is an important issue and clearly worth studying.

    Seems like all these comments make a lot of sense…maybe I’ll email the student and suggest she/he take a look at some of the suggestions here.

    Does anyone have some suggestions about useful questions for a survey geared towards game addicts themselves?

  11. #11 Demosthenes
    April 24, 2007

    That’s a tough nut to crack. The quantitative questions are relatively easy, but I’d think they would have to delve into why they play these games, and what they’re giving up to play. People like to pretend that MMORPGers (or anybody else with a relatively time-consuming interest or hobby or whatever) could learn to solve world peace or cure bee mites or learn to play the oboe or something like that, but let’s be honest- if it’s just delving into your American Idol time, there ain’t a lot missed. Measuring amounts of time spent on the internet as a whole before and after they start playing, amounts of console gaming, and amounts of television watching, as well as a general breakdown of time spent on different activities during the day, might serve as a useful indicator of what, exactly, they’re on about.

    The socialization aspect is tougher, however, as it would need to measure the extent to which this person games because they enjoy the social raiding/grouping environment, rather than simply tolerating those other bastards so they can get their “phat purps”.

    (Some variation on the old Bartle Test might help too, to fill out their motivations.)

    Honestly, though, the nature of the task suggests to me that perhaps said student should conduct some interviews before writing a damned thing. Perhaps even conducting them in-game might be a good idea, as well as engaging in a bit of ethnological insertion by piggy-backing on a raider for an evening. It’ll take a while to wade through the jargon, but it’s not like that’s new.

    Anyway, that’s what annoys me about these “game addiction” studies- there’s a host of fascinating sociological and psychological insights to be derived from the simulated worlds these people live in…and instead they get treated like slot jockeys.

  12. #12 Rorgg
    April 26, 2007

    I went to the link and saw there is a gamer-oriented survey too, so I went to check it out.

    The first question was:

    1. What is your gender?
    ( ) Male

    2. How many hours…

    which I found amusing.

    The survey needs a lot of work, it makes some really far-reaching assumptions. Have I gained more than 5 pounds since I started playing video games? What… like… 20 years ago? Well, yes, I suppose I weigh more at 35 than I did at 15.

    There were also some really odd questions:
    I have lost more then 5 pounds in the last 6 months without trying:
    ( ) Yes, it started before game-play
    ( ) Yes, it started after game-play
    ( ) No
    ( ) I’m Not Sure

    Well, I dunno, is eating slightly better and actually going to the gym 2-3 times a week instead of blowing it off considered “trying”? I’ve lost about 20 pounds in 6 months without any significant effort. But… I gained more than 5 pounds over 20 years!

    I’m very skeptical of the statement “would like to thank you in advance for your participation. Video game addiction is a devastatingly real challenge for thousands, both for families and addicts themselves, and with your help we may one day begin to better treat this disorder effectively.” Frankly, the only statistics I’ve seen about this sort of thing are from people who offer professional help, define a level of “addiction” and then make unsupported guesses about what percentage of people are addicted, multiply it by the population, and cry grievously over all those poor souls who need their help, if only they knew it.

    There are people who play too many games, and even slide into the category of “psychological addiction,” but I’m incredibly dubious as to the ability or desire of this survey or the experts I’ve seen to accurately ascertain who that applies to.

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