Study: One in nine MMOG players addicted

Poll of 7,000 online gamers shows that 12 percent exhibit at least three signs of uncontrollable habitual behavior.

Massively multiplayer online games such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, and Second Life are becoming increasingly popular. All have celebrated milestones in their user numbers recently, with WOW announcing it has 7.5 million subscribers, Guild Wars selling 2 million copies (including expansions), and Second Life hitting 1 million users--many of whom spend real money in the game.

But games like World of Warcraft are hard to switch off and walk away from, says Professor Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. That's because they have no end, and there's always someone online somewhere in the world.

A Nottingham Trent research study of 7,000 online gamers showed that 12 percent exhibit at least three of the diagnostic criteria of addiction as outlined by the World Health Organisation. These include: craving, withdrawal symptoms, loss of control, and neglect of other activities.

The survey was filled in by a self-selected sample composed mainly of males with an average age of 21 and was concerned principally with the potential for addiction to online gaming. Griffiths said, "I'm sure if we'd done this survey looking at non-online players, looking at gamers that play on stand-alone systems, my guess is that the prevalence of addiction-like symptoms would have been much less prevalent."

According to Griffiths, the problem with online games is that there will never be a point where the player has battled the final boss, tied up the story, and can turn the computer off with a feeling of satisfaction. "Of course the game never switches off; you can't even pause the game," he told GameSpot. "So if you are really into the gameplay, I can see why a small proportion of people do get hooked and feel like they don't want to leave."

Griffiths was also quick to point out that there are many positive aspects to playing games and that those who play frequently can boast a number of advantages over the nongaming population. Those benefits include increased reaction times and better hand-eye coordination.

The professor also told GameSpot that games had many useful applications, including acting as "distracter tasks" for those in chemotherapy, physiotherapy, and other painful treatment courses and acting as a tool for people learning to drive and those in the military.

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276 comments
MrBoomtastic
MrBoomtastic

To Airsoft.. EVE Online is free to get in the first place, you play the first 14 days for free and then if you dont like you can just end without paying a penny. No ones forcing anyone to pay for anything, except world of whorecraft... but if you wanna pay to prance around as a glorified fairy, then im not gonna stop you :P

airsoftmanic
airsoftmanic

i see the point and have only played a minimal amount on EVE before my free trial ran out. my niggle with these games like WoW and EVE is that you have to constantly pay for them AFTER youve actually bought the game! i wouldnt mind if you just paid £2-£3 every month and downloaded the app for free but you pay £30 then have to pay £5+ every month just to play!! i cant be arsed with that, especially on my income. runescape pulled me in a bit but it stumps you at a certian level and 60% of the game needs to be unlocked by paying. sod that.

h_alhashim
h_alhashim

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Barhooom
Barhooom

oh well... a guy who spends his %60 of his day playing WOW or Guild Wars.. idk if his fast reflexes would help him do anything else... I guess they should put games like GOW in military training or karate gyms to help ppl with slower reflexes.. However, many people feel depressed becuase of the slow pace of the real world and want to do gr8 things. I think these games give that to this kind of pple and thats the reason they leave the real world and invest so much in playing games where they feel like they count.. Thats just my take on it

Angry_O
Angry_O

Squabo46 "Well I would argue that most mmorpg's aren't good for you other than the fact that they are entertaining. Games like Guild Wars and WoW don't increase reaction speed or handeye coordination because they're not FPS's and don't have real time battles. If anything they dull your senses." Ha! You wish. I play both FPS multi (FEAR, BF2142) and WoW. Both require fast reaction times and hand eye coordination, particularly when partaking of PvP in WoW. In fact, I would say that WoW requires not only fast reaction times, but more thoughtful reaction times, since you have to evaluate a much more complex situation and react to it compared to your standard FPS slug fest. I'm guessing you played a small amount of WoW, and evaluated it on the rather dull and boring low levels. At higher levels, having a 30+ skills on your screen to select from when fighting other players requires substantial reflexes and presence of mind.

dudeperson2006
dudeperson2006

thats cool us gamers have increased reaction times and better hand eye coordination...................this is awesome

Squabo46
Squabo46

Well I would argue that most mmorpg's aren't good for you other than the fact that they are entertaining. Games like Guild Wars and WoW don't increase reaction speed or handeye coordination because they're not FPS's and don't have real time battles. If anything they dull your senses. I think the addiction to mmorpg's comes from a desired superiority complex. Basically, in mmorpg's you just do the same thing over and over again: you get a quest, fight something, go somewhere, collect something and then return for your reward. This gets boring quite quickly (at least for me, I suppose some could find fun in repetition) so I am able to easily turn off my game. The only thing that keeps you going is the drive to become better than other people because, these games do not end. It is this drive to be better than others that keeps people addicted until you either realize you will not be the best or there is no actual gain in being the best because, after all, it is a videogame. Some people never reach these points so they are hopelessly addicted. I suppose this addiction could be healthy in games such as 2nd life, IF you are good at it as it will make you actual money. However, in games like WoW, the pride that comes from being "the best" isn't really worth anything.

JohnnySoftware
JohnnySoftware

"THIS IS FROM ENGLAND HA ..... NO ONE IN ENGLAND PLAYS VIDEO GAMES WHAT DO THEY KNOW" What do you know?!! Bullfrog Productions was a huge computer gaming software company founded in the UK and later acquired by US gamemaker EA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullfrog_Productions Psygnosis is another UK video game software company that created games for PCs and home console systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psygnosis I just corresponded with a programmer in the UK a couple of weeks ago who writes video games, too. So the UK is and has been involved in video games for quite a long time.

JohnnySoftware
JohnnySoftware

It is somewhat misleading to say that "the game never switches off ... you cannot even pause the game". The reality is that the game does let you log out or completely exit the program. That is pretty darned close to the pause feature in other games. The world does not grind to a halt, true - when you do that. However, it does mean that your character is not going to get killed. You have therefore very effectively "paused" your character. You can do this anywhere, anytime - from what I have seen so far. It is slightly preferable to do it in an inn but in practice there is not really any penalty from doing it anywhere, including right in the middle of a road. In the end, it is just a game. There are benefits for playing it some in the first place, and problems with playing it too much as well. Just like everything else.

Resu_Emanon
Resu_Emanon

Getting addicted to ANY activity CAN BE dangerous physically and maybe even mentally, and the more addicted you are, the more side effects you can get. Im saying this to let some people look at this article from other point of view. Forget about getting addicted to MMOG, because getting addicted to women is more dangerous then any game and the side effects can be unpredictable!!

_Sam_
_Sam_

"Those benefits include increased reaction times and better hand-eye coordination." interesting. I didn't know that

Dualmask
Dualmask

This doesn't surprise me at all. I used to be heavily addicted to City of Heroes, because it was the first (and only) MMO I've ever played, and because I draw my own comics and create my own superhero characters anyway, the game was like heaven on earth. When I was new to it, I all but abandoned everything else in my life--I was late for work often because I stayed up late playing it, I neglected my family, my art, my friends, all of it. Today, I'm pretty much tired of it (and my comp can't seem to handle it anymore) so the addiction has worn off, but I'm definitely wary about trying another MMO. They're extremely dangerous games, but really it all boils down to self control. It's not the developers' fault that people can't stop playing MMOs. You have to have the will power to cut yourself off from time to time, force breaks on yourself.

stricot
stricot

I would say I've been addicted to several games although I would not admit it myself and it would not be perceived from others. From Colonization, Sim City 1 or Diablo 1 to Fallout, Baldur's Gate, Morrowind or WoW I've been hooked several times to the point it impacts your studies/social activities/work, although usually not visibly. I can't count the hours I've spent on games in my life but that would be just impressive (just as time spent in front of a telly by most people, whereeas I have no TV). Although I had girfriends and a demanding job at the time, WoW has definitely had drug-like effects during the 15 months I've been subscribing: getting back home and rushing to the PC to login, quickly cooking andd eating in front of the screen, not answering the phone while on a quest, skipping sports and nights out and even visits to my family. I CAN GUARANTEE more than 1 on 9 (maybe 1 on 5) MMO gamers are highly addicted and probably more than half somehow addicted; basically you don't spend a monthly EUR12 strolling in that living world from time to time while most just compete to level up, auction items, get active in a guild etc... Positive point though: most people have their addiction, mainly TV, or drinking with friends, or clubbing, or going to the gym every single day, even working 12 hours a day and at week-ends; those can all become real addictions which have an impact on your personal/social life.

kl3pt00
kl3pt00

i think games can be habit forming if u have an addictive personality anything can be addicting even ice cream just got to have the right personality i guess

Predatorian234
Predatorian234

Wait....video games aren't habit forming? What are you smoking? Next thing you know you will be telling me that smoking pot isn't habit forming either. But I was addicted to a game once....Yep....Diablo 2. It consumed by soul. I remember running home from school and jumping right on and playing all night long. Did that for about a month or so. Most addicted I have ever been to a game. And I haven't gamed like that since. Sometimes I miss those days...then I look at my tan and my girlfriend and I no longer miss it.

Owenjf
Owenjf

"NO ONE IN ENGLAND PLAYS VIDEO GAMES" Please tell me you are actually joking and not that nieve. MMO's are highly addictive, I'm sure any of you that are avid MMO fans will appreciate the "just five more minutes" which turns into an hour or 4.

GenTaylor84
GenTaylor84

THIS IS FROM ENGLAND HA ..... NO ONE IN ENGLAND PLAYS VIDEO GAMES WHAT DO THEY KNOW

audioust
audioust

you cant get addicted to video games. period. games are not a habbit forming substance.

goochtoe
goochtoe

odd... I have never been addicted to a game.... Well maybe mega Man X3 and Mega Man X... But hey you can't blame me! I refuse to ever beat those games because I will never play them again once they're beaten. well still... Everyone that's addicted to MMORPG's, HEED MY WORDS! You are a turducken

UnderWing
UnderWing

Subtitle: "Researchers note that other nine haven't played WoW yet." Sorry, it was too easy :P

glhx2112
glhx2112

Time for a 12 step program for online gamming addiction? ugh.........

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

I know a guy that could use some help.

Impostorzim
Impostorzim

It worries me sometimes because I play World of Warcraft, in fact I was planning on logging on right after I came here, but instead I'll go to sleep because I am tired. Anyway, my friends joke around that WoW is more life than real life. I don't know how anyone can say that. Meanwhile I'm out doing stuff. Well congratulations buddy! You're a level 60 Rogue and I'm still a level 24 Hunter....so what?

FriendOfFoe
FriendOfFoe

I know some people like that, they rent a basement and play Second Life all day long with the lights shut...It's like another dimentions, there's stuff all over the place, pizza boxes, dirty clothes, and yet there are these 4 humanoids staring silently at their monitors...You can go and walk around them, talk to them, and they won't even remember that you were ever there. Freaky

xrxromeoxrx
xrxromeoxrx

im not addicted *twitch twitch* no really i only play when i dont have to work...but wait i dont work ;O...

UrFaceIzDum
UrFaceIzDum

I mnyself play WoW and FFXI, but I'm not addicted. It is fun, and once in a GREAT while I have a marathon session (like once every 6 months). I know people that have almost no life anymore simply because they refuse to get outta their chairs and go have a good time doing something else. Its like MMO's are all that they know. It's sad.

lvlUNE3B
lvlUNE3B

Agreed. Moreover in Online gaming, you meet new characters which makes you to play more with them.. have alliance or enmity.. It's the crave for it. There must be a time limit for a person to play an MMOG.. which will force players rest for a while..

Merl57
Merl57

Yes the first thing on my mind is the military smiling at this prosepect. Who knows how far the government is behind all this? It is a possibility. Just throwing that out there.

jarule2002zw
jarule2002zw

l bought guild wars about 6 months ago and l have only done the quests up 2 when u get to the new city place thingy so l dont think l have this problem as l mainly go out and enjoy life rather than a lot of ppl (some one here) who dont actually have a social life but hey l guess its how some ppl want to live their life.

raist2021
raist2021

The 12% quoted isn't too suprising and given the 7000 sample size it likely reflects the larger audience. I play WoW and manage to have a career, school and a girlfriend. For the record I'm not in a hardcore raiding guild and can't imagine anyone that raids four nights a week having a decent life balance or knows what a gym looks like... MMO's are setup to make sacrifices if you want to be on the edge of content you HAVE to sink time, anyone that is in shape and leads a healthly active life and somehow manages to have Naxx on farm status I would love to hear the secret (besides not working for $$).. ; )

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

ok on a sad note...(yeh im pathetic..) im still addicted to diablo 2 exp... meet me in channel 1..lol account is minty_cbo1 . gg i cant believe it but yeh a 6 yr old game with shltty graphics and i still play it..i've done any thing in the game imaginable but i still play it.. guess im a fan of it..i played diablo1 from release as same for d2 and the exp..i own hellfire for d1..,heck this isnt a full mmorpg it's max is 8 players to game..now when d3(if ever) comes out...i just hope it isnt set up like wow. yerh im a sad mofo huh?..lol ahh well theirs a given 50,000+ on d2 at any given time..,so it's not just the mmorpg's..,there still a lot of ppl kickin it old skool.. and to my peeps in clan c-1 ...keep up the pk's!

nobeaner
nobeaner

This is why I had to give up online play. Way to addictive for me and it lead to exactly the problems that were described above. So now its only solo play or with someone on the same console. Hey, if you can play online without this problem, more power to ya. I just know that I can't.

defjam33
defjam33

i have a friend who plays Wow and unfortunately he's on his 3rd job this year - he got fired twice for excessive lateness due to late night raiding...

sccUniverse
sccUniverse

"Poll of 7,000 online gamers shows that 12 percent exhibit at least three signs of uncontrollable habitual behavior." ========================================== Uncontrollable? So that means those gamers are screwed forever. Nothing's "uncontrollable" Gamespot. Geez. It just takes more work to unlearn something than to get addicted in the first place but nothing you do is "uncontrollable." With all the ad $ you guys get, re-read what you write!

lonesn1per
lonesn1per

i love people that say they "have a life" and are posting it on this messege board.....lol i dont and im not denying it work, sleep, game and occasionally go out but if i feel like it. gaming keeps me out of trouble which is good. also you cant blame it on video games! blame the social behavior of these "addicts". i played final fantasy 11 since it came out and im only on 3 hours every 2 weeks.... some quest take around 6 hours but ive done that twice since my 3 years online. i knew someone who played ff11 as well and got a divorce thats his fault not the games.....it didnt hold a gun to his head did it?

Bill-Rizer
Bill-Rizer

Study: Ten in Ten Heroin users are addicted. In other words, who gives a rat's a$$.

sccUniverse
sccUniverse

"SirChuckAlot" The big clue to his addiction was one day I had to re-arrange a room that contained the cable modem. I had to disconnect the modem for about 45 minutes to an hour to get it done and every five minutes, he would come in and ask "is it back up yet?" when he knew full well that it was not. ****************************************************************** Thats freaky. I think there's been a few times when I've been addicted to games but not enough to actually fail school / lose a job or anything... When I was 10 or 11 I was obsessed with Super Mario Bros. 3 and would sneak into the living room at 3am to play with the sound muted. My parents caught me and WEREN'T happy. In '94 I was obsessed with FF3 and I couldn't stop thinking about the characters in the game (as if they were real...Celes & Locke....LOL) and that winter was creepy looking back to say the least. In '99 I was obsessed w/ System Shock 2....played that in the dark non-stop FOR HOURS. In summer of '01 I was obsessed with Phantasy Star Online...and I was playing it OFFLINE! That's addiction. In summer of '03 I was obsessed with Halo...haunts me to this day :) Last year in August, Civilization IV briefly had me addicted nonstop...I would play ALL night and go to work thinking about the game...LOL. So while I'm not addicted to games 24/7, there have been times when I just can't stop playing. I don't know if you call that addiction or just great gameplay but thankfully the effects wore off usually 2-3 months after I started playing any of those mentioned games.

jknight5422
jknight5422

Actually, most MMOs won't improve hand-eye coordination as they aren't reflex-based. You'd think that somebody doing a study of these games would know that they are RPG-oriented. So either they didn't do a study on games like World of Warcraft/City of Heroes, but on games like Halo 2 or Battlefield/Call of Duty. The latter games do have an ending & then you start over repeating a scenario. They do say that playing games, since they are interactive, can help the brain though. Perhaps it'll fight off Alzheimer's? I have a relative that plays COH a lot, but he still gets his work done. If a game doesn't have a craving associated to it, how do you initiate wanting to ever play it after the first time you tried it? Usually games that I play I tend to play several hours for a few months & then lose interest in gaming for a few months. I think it's more of a cycle than a permanent addiction.

gagan21
gagan21

sorry , but no mmos 4 me , i have a life:D, if u dont have a life then definatley play mmos :D

Ocelotpoo
Ocelotpoo

I thought that it was proven a few years ago that video games actually didn't improve hand-eye coordination...

day_walker666
day_walker666

My comment is that if you're twenty one and are still playing mmorpg's you deserve to be addicted!

Energenix
Energenix

I had a similar experience, except mine was playing UT online, of all things. I would usually be up til 2, 3, or even 4 in the morning. It completely ruined my life for a whole year. Once I joined a clan and started having matches, I dropped out of school just so I could play and hang around teamspeak all night. Once I got so fed up with myself and gave it up, I felt a million times better, and that's no exaggeration. And since MMOs are even more addictive than online FPSs, people need to be very, VERY careful where they devote themselves. If you play online over 5 or 6 hours a day consistently, and get enraged when your internet goes out, or the power goes out, or because you have to go to work/school, simply because you can not play online, then you need to take a hard, serious look at yourself and rethink your priorities. Just throwing it out there...

RedChris
RedChris

LMAO im tempted to get WoW just to see if it can pull me in. maybe over Summer.

Infinite-Zr0
Infinite-Zr0

I used to play WoW and I was in one of the top guilds of the server, and there were atleast 50-60 people who play more than 10 hours a day. Someone in my guild chose WoW over his wife. Many others had problems with school And on top of them, none of them were Asian, and Asians play videogames like a religon And I'm 100% Korean btw so don't go saying I'm being racist

anamnawshad
anamnawshad

Haha That's why I never played any of these games.....

OldWiseBob
OldWiseBob

It is so easy to stop playing something..... Just listen to lots of music.... But then again I can't stop listening to music, so I think that makes me a hypocrite. And if i did stop listening to music then I would have to do something else (like vgames)... where does it stop?

rudyHG
rudyHG

That ratio sounds about right.

Kfoss
Kfoss

whoo 7000 gamers...and only a whopping 12% riiiggggghhhhttt....can you say botched survey..and what were the questions?...and randome sample..? ummmmmm