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Gaming addiction may not exist, new research reveals.

Out of a study’s 2,316 self-confessed gaming-addict participants, only nine met the five or more criteria necessary for an addiction diagnosis.

After six months, none of the participants fulfilled the criteria, which suggests the ‘gamers’ used the habit as a temporary distraction from aspects of their life they were unhappy with, the researchers suggest.

Lead author Dr Netta Weinstein from Cardiff University, said: ‘We didn’t see a large number of people with clinical problems.

‘Having more needs fulfillment in life can make people feel better about their gaming.’  

Only nine out of more than 2,000 self-confessed ‘gamers’ met the criteria for addiction


According to The American Psychiatric Association, gaming addicts possess five or more of the following nine criteria:

  • Obsession with internet games
  • Withdrawal when not playing
  • Build-up of tolerance, which requires more time be spent playing
  • Failing to quit the habit despite trying
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Continued gaming despite knowing it is affecting others
  • Lying about internet game use
  • Using games to relieve anxiety or guilt
  • Putting a lot at risk, such as their relationships, due to gaming 

How the research was carried out 

The researchers analysed 2,316 people who regularly play online games over six months.

At the start and end of the study, the participants completed a questionnaire asking them about their health, physical activity levels and lifestyle.

According to The American Psychiatric Association, gaming addicts meet five or more criteria out of a list of nine. 

Most ‘gamers’ do not meet the criteria for addiction 

Results reveal of the study’s participants only nine met five or more criteria for gaming addiction at the start of the trial and none experienced these symptoms six months later. 

Three of the participants fulfilled four or more criteria throughout the study but did not feel distress over their habit.

Dr Weinstein said: ‘We didn’t see a large number of people with clinical problems. 

‘The study’s results suggest that it’s not clear how many resources should go to gaming addiction, compared to other addictions like drugs.’

Further findings reveal ‘gaming addicts’ may be unhappy in other aspects of their life, such as their relationships.

This suggests gaming may be used as a temporary distraction, rather than being an addiction, according to the researchers.

Dr Weinstein said: ‘Having more needs fulfilment in life can make people feel better about their gaming.’

Kimberly Young, a clinical psychologist who specialises in internet addiction, added: ‘Addicted players need to examine the emotional motives that prompt them to play a game excessively and look for alternate ways to satisfy those needs.’ 


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