The WHO has publicly said that video games can cause addiction, reports Tiffany Hsu of The New York Times. “Gaming disorder” is now listed in its substance abuse category. Video games are designed to lure players in and be so entertaining that they have difficulty putting them down. Some have compared their effect to that of cocaine. In 2009, a study claimed that 9% of young gamers were addicted, a figure that some assume has risen with the proliferation of smartphones that make video games easier to access. Academia still doesn’t fully understand this phenomenon, but providing adequate support to video game addicts is an important next step.
Video games aren’t quite clinically addictive, infers Lindsay Dogson of Business Insider. They are likely to be an outlet for suffering and frustration elsewhere in life. One study of 2,316 adults found few links to clinical problems. Of nine participants that were found to have a gaming disorder, none reported being distressed about this. Research at Oxford University suggested that gambling, for example, is much more clinically addictive. Video games are highly compelling and draw in users. However, they don’t come with the issues that other addictive practices have. More research is needed to conclusively and clinically label video games as addictive.