Game Addiction is a hot topic — those who have children talk about it much, as well as officials. World Health Organization even included game addiction to the list of mental disorders.

But does anyone understand what game addiction is clearly? How do they study it in particular? Oxford’s Andrew Przybylski explained it earlier this year. The short version is that all their investigations to the date are crap. The extended version is below — we will explain why.


The new researches of the game addiction pop up once a month. The articles keep coming too. Why do people like to raise the topic so much? Because there is a demand for a social demon.

The Keep Talking How Dangerous Gaming is

The gaming addiction topic is not new — the first article appeared in the New York Times in 1976. It told about the arcade game called ‘Death Race.’ The funny thing is that they didn’t even bother to change the template since then. Every time another journalist is trying to raise ratings writing about a subject he has no clue about, he uses the same old scheme:

  • Games affect people more than the other media because they participate in the process actively.
  • They always talk about some vulnerable groups: women, migrants, whatever. Speaking about games, it’s usually children. The readers are not supposed to include themselves in that group.
  • Whenever it’s hard to evaluate hard to a current person, they emphasize on the hard to the entire society.
  • There’s always ‘an expert psychologist’ confirming the author’s thesis. In that particular article in 1976, ‘an expert’ said that an arcade game might increase the number of car crashes.

The Two Major Concerns

When it comes down to games, there are two concerns generally. The first one is that games cause violence; the second one is that they are addictive.

The violence topic is trendy. Still, we are not going even to bother to talk about it because it’s visible how amateurs crime goes statistically down among the groups with access to the games. The addiction topic is harder, and such respectful organizations already recognize it as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

World Health Organization

WHO recognizes it as a behavior disorder when a subject sacrifices his personal life, duties, or job to games for one year. WHO they just took the gambling addiction definition and changed gambling to gaming.

American Psychiatric Association

APA uses nearly the same approach. They have a list of nine symptoms, and if you mark at least five, it means you are addicted. A definition they use is ‘an Internet games addiction.’ Funnily, they can’t explain what ‘the Internet games’ are.

Doesn’t It Make Sense In General?

Well, it does. Many of us witnessed children addicted to mobile games so much that they are not interested in literally anything else. Some of us experienced periods when we sacrificed personal life or University to the games. Why is it essential if psychologists can or can not explain what ‘Internet games’ are precise?

Because when they study it at this level, it’s a science. And so, when they make statements, it’s supposed that they researched the subject thoroughly, right? And there is a way psychologists use to study addictions. Nobody follows it investigating game addiction, but for some reason, nobody emphasizes it usually.

Active Ingredient

The crucial part of understanding addiction is to determine the active ingredient — something that an addictive person is eager for:

  • Smoking addicted are eager for nicotine (C10H14N2)
  • Heroin addicted are eager for opiates (C17H17NO(C2H3O2)2)
  • Gambling addicted are believed to be eager for dopamine (C8H11NO2)

Now we say that someone is addicted to League of Legends of Fortnite. What does it mean exactly? Nobody investigated it yet, and everything psychologists have done so far is assumptions. They took two facts:

  • A young man plays games;
  • He has a hard period in his life;

And then they decided that the second happens because of the first. But wait, 80% of the young man in the USA play the games, and many of them have trouble, as their parents did and their children will do. This assumption is as accurate, as the anecdotal one:

  • Almost all serial killers used to wear socks;
  • It means that the person to wear socks is likely to be a serial killer.

Why Survey Studies Don’t Work

When could someone believe in the anecdotal assumption above? It could happen if he would be surveying the serial killers only and would not be aware that almost all the people on the planet wear socks too.

And that’s exactly what happens to the psychologists who study game addiction. What they do is just surveying people on the game addiction subreddit. This way is the cheapest and accessible, and they can query hundreds and even thousands of people. But the problem is that all those will be serial killers wearing socks.

Why Neuroimaging Don’t Work

One type is using an fMRI scanner to see how would the brain react to something related to one’s favorite game and make a brain picture. They usually use two groups (‘normal’ and ‘addicted’) and compare the images.

The pictures they receive usually differ — the problem is that it has nothing to do with the addiction researching. That is because it’s impossible to tell why are they different. How do we know, is that addiction or the players just like the game and thus react to it?

However, someone does this kind of research at least once a month and makes strong assumptions based on the results.

The Problem With Symptomatology

Symptomatology is a kind of research when psychologists do constellation of symptoms do find a correlation between gaming addiction and some other type of addictions and disorders that we already learned better. It’s mostly based on surveys, and its point is to understand what gaming addiction even is.

The problem is that the academical gatekeepers already decided what it is, so they don’t accept researches that might prove them wrong. That is a severe obstruction to young scientists to research the subject this way, even though it’s not expensive, and it actually makes sense.

The Problem With Treatment

Treatment means that psychologists work with the people who consider themselves addicted trying to help them. That can be pharmaceutical medication or, most commonly, cognitive behavioral therapy.

However, there is a severe ethical concern because you can’t give people medication unless you learned their disorder well. Currently, we only try to make it look like we do, but it has nothing to do with science.


The problem is that officials, regulators, and even psychologists sometimes don’t read further than the header. Thus, they will make statements, make decisions, and give medication for the disorder that is not researched properly.

We are not trying to say there are no addicted players because we know there are. But you must understand that nobody really knows how can it be cured because to date, they have no idea about the active ingredient. So even though you can try some behavioral therapy, never accept pharmaceutical medication.

We at Mid Bet are a part of a Responsible Gambling program, so we are aware of how important this topic is. We hope you will always be capable of playing and gambling responsibly.