Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Mario-juana: Is gaming a drug? (Part 3)

Choosing to interact with a virtual word rather than the real, physical world comes naturally to some people. Personally I got into gaming at a young age, but for others gaming is simply an escape from real life. It gives people of all ages and ethnicities a chance to create a world of their own, away from bullies or anything going on in one’s life.

Unfortunately, excessive gaming (whilst it may be fun and exciting) leads to addiction. Take it from a former addict, the consequences of choosing a virtual world, essentially having no life, over the real world can be worse than whatever you are trying to escape from. Gaming really does have a drug like effect.


Dr.Scott Rigby is a gaming psychology expert with extensive experience in the gaming industry. He is founder and president of Immersyve, Inc, a research and consulting group. His interactive work can be seen as part of the “Explore the Universe” exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. According to him gaming fulfils the ‘three basic needs’:

  • Competence – the belief that you can do something well
  • Autonomy – the belief that you have a say in how you live
  • Relatedness – the belief that you matter

But how do video games satisfy these needs?

  • “All of us could be playing a video game, either on our phones or computers, within the next ten seconds if we wanted to.”
  • “Games give us clear paths to success and achievement, and treat us fairly. A game doesn’t tell us we got passed over for promotion because of office politics; it gives us the reward it promised, each and every time. We can count on them.”
  • “Games give us a rich field of opportunities to pursue, activities to undertake, and challenges to conquer”


How many people are affected, no one really knows but two statistics really stand out:

  1. The gaming industry is worth $91 Billion as of 2015 and is projected to grow to over $100 Billion by 2017
  2. In 2007 a study was conducted that found almost 12 percent of participants in a 7069 person study were diagnosed as addicted to video games. (

If this second point’s trend even partially reflects on the global population then something needs to be done.



So how do you know if you are an addict (because let’s face it…. If you are an addict you are going to deny it)?

  1. When you think about how needs are satisfied in your ‘real life’ versus games, do games come out ahead? If our basic needs are too sparsely satisfied by life, there may be a susceptibility to over-involvement in video games
  1. Do you miss deadlines at work or school because of gaming, or choose to game rather than spend time with friends or family?
  1. Are you feeling personal pressure, guilt or shame around your gaming?
  1. Are you playing four or more hours a day? ‘We find that up until about 25 hours, there is no direct association between time spent playing, and negative feelings or decreased well-being.’
  1. Is your gaming isolating others? ‘While you are running around virtual worlds…it is sometimes hard to remember that you are leaving the molecular world, and often the loved ones that are under your own roof, alone and isolated from you.’


I would like to round off my blog posts by saying that… Although a lot of people will never truly know about gaming addiction (or even that somebody close to them has one), it is important to recognise the drug like effect overindulgent gaming entails.


Check out this ABC Catalyst video for their take on gaming addiction!



Study in 2007: Grusser et. Al ‘Excessive computer game playing: evidence for addiction and aggression?”


Q&A with GLUED TO GAMES’ Scott Rigby:


Rigby five questions:


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This entry was posted on May 13, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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