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Friday, June 28 • 2:10pm - 2:50pm
The Use of Games for Health: Is There a "Gaming Addiction" Side Effect?

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Games for health are widely used in medicine and psychology, but there is still the question, if there are any side effects of using games – can people get addicted to games?

Psychologists are generally familiar with the concept of “addiction”. Nevertheless, there is no specific definition of addiction in the DSM; disorders connected with addiction are dispersed throughout the manual. For example, substance related disorders refer to the dependence (not addiction!) of a substance, e.g. alcohol, cocaine or marijuana.

However, some researchers applied a concept of addiction (or substance related disorder) to an excessive use of games and labeled it “”online gaming addiction”". Charlton and Danforth (2007) discussed this general application of addiction to “excessive gaming” critically; they emphasize the differences between a highly engaged and a solely “addictive” gaming behavior with similar criteria to those of substance related disorders. This is especially important when it comes to “”games for health”" – can a minority get addicted to games when there is a “”gaming overdose”"? And how does this affect the psychological application of games for health?

This talk looks at the concept that the diagnostic criteria of “excessive” gaming still remains unclear; however, there are no doubts that there is a minority of gamers having problems because of an overuse of online roleplaying games. For example, we observed a sample of high-level World of Warcraft players in respect of differences between a highly engaged and addicted behavior. We found out that there are differences between a highly engaged and an addicted behavior with the first often erroneously labelled as “addiction”. There are significant differences when it comes to the weekly amount of time spent online, quality of life, etc.

Furthermore, research we’ll discuss showed “maladaptive cognitions concerning the Internet” as a crucial factor of “pathological internet use”, leading to a problematic use of the internet. Interestingly, in a recent study we found out that these maladaptive cognitions decrease in an intervention group (online game-based training for shy students); we didn’t find any effects in a waiting-list control group.

I present some results of our studies concerning gaming addiction and the use of interventions with the help of new media. Based on these results, this talk discusses the concept of “gaming addiction” critically, especially when it comes to the emerging field of games for health.


Mario Lehenbauer

Wein University
Wein University

Friday June 28, 2013 2:10pm - 2:50pm EDT
Room E: Justice Room

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