Game makers must do more to prevent addiction says new study

Study focused on MMORPGs as a genre providing unending structures that keep gamers hooked

Researchers from Cardiff, Derby and Nottingham Trent universities have published a new study, warning videogame makers that they need to do more to prevent players becoming addicted.

Published in the Addiction Research and Theory Journal, the study claims that approximately seven to eleven per cent of gamers can be considered to have “pathological” addictions, citing documented gaming sessions lasting 40-90 hours as evidence.

The universities also analysed the architecture of different game types, paying special attention to the genre of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) which offer players a structure encouraging long gaming sessions through a series of ever-escalating goals and rewards.

“As a first step online game developers and publishers need to look into the structural features of the game design,” says Dr Zaheer Hussain, a cyber-psychologist from the University of Derby. “For example the character development, rapid absorption rate, and multi-player features which could make them addictive and or problematic for some gamers.”

Dr Shumaila Yousafzai from Cardiff Business School also said that warning messages placed in games showed that the manufacturers “do take some responsibility into their own hands."

“These warning messages also suggest that the online video game industry might know how high the percentage of over-users is, how much time gamers spend playing and what specific features make a particular game more engrossing and addictive than others," said Yousafzai.

Many high-profile cases of extreme game addiction have appeared in the past years, including a South Korean couple whose baby starved to death whilst they played video games in 2010. Another case in February 2012  reported the death of a Taiwanese gamer named Chen Rong-yu, who suffered a cardiac arrest in the middle of a marathon gaming session whist playing in an internet cafe.

The distinction between 'good' and 'harmful' games is also difficult to define. Game designers frequently talk about the ‘addictive’ quality of their titles as a positive quality, and use game mechanics similar to those found in casinos in order to encourage play.

One such method is to offer rewards to the player, dispensed at random intervals. This creates tension where the player knows that will be rewarded at some point (maybe with a temporary power-up, or a points bonus) but without knowing exactly when this will happen.

However, these problems are hardly a new to society. The same mechanic explains addiction to slot machines - games which require little skill but offer the promise of players hitting the jackpot.

Gaming addiction is not limited to 'hardcore gamers' either, with free-to-play titles such as FarmVille or Candy Crush Saga using similar systems of incentives to keep casual players hooked.

Despite this most recent study, there is still dissent over what is classified as gaming addiction and how widespread a problem it might be. In the fifth and most recent addition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5; the de facto authority for classifying psychiatric disorders) gaming addiction was listed as requiring more research.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

    £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas