Study Links Video Game Addicts with Asperger's Syndrome

April 3, 2008 -
A new study maintains that people who are addicted to video games exhibit characteristics similar to those who suffer from Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism.

As reported by Videogamer.com, the research was produced by Dr. John Charlton of the England's University of Bolton and Ian Danforth of Whitman College in the United States:
391 "computer game players", 86% of whom were male, were questioned... Results found that the closer the players got to [game] addiction the more likely they were to display negative personality traits. With stronger signs of game addiction came three personality traits that would usually be associated with Aspergers: neuroticism, and lack of extraversion and agreeableness.

The researchers believe that video game addicts can not be classified as having Aspergers syndrome, but do share characteristics because they find it easier to empathise with computer systems than other people.

According to Dr. Charlton:
The thinking in the field is that there is a scale along which people, even those considered to be 'normal', can be placed upon. And that people such as engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists are nearer to the non-empathising, systemising, end of the spectrum, with people with Aspergers syndrome even further along again.

Our research supports the idea that people who are heavily involved in game playing may be nearer to autistic spectrum disorders than people who have no interest in gaming.

GP: Interesting stuff, although the underlying concept of "video game addiction" itself has not yet been accepted as a diagnosis by the American Medical Association.

Comments

Re: Study Links Video Game Addicts with Asperger's Syndrome

@everyone

Autisim is not something you can just suddenly develop, it's something you are born with. I have medical records that state I got it when I was 21 which happens to be when I was diagnosed. This is only because of the way the laws are. Because it was so completely ignored for so many years anyone over a certain age gets pushed aside and treated as if they are less important than everyone else.

I am a very intelligent person and am currently in college for Computer Electronics and Engineering Technology with a 4.0GPA. Sure I love games but it obviosly does not interfere with my life. The hours we spend playing have nothing to do with addiction, did anyone ever think we might just be bored. I play from 10 to 50 hours a week depending on how much free time I have does this mean I'm an addict, no it just means I'm bored as hell and have nothing better to do right now.

As far as the social aspect of aspergers syndrome goes sure I have great difficulty dealing with people but that is only because the majority of the people in this messed up world of ours are assholes and I feel I'm far better off not knowing them. So when I'm left with the choices of playing a game or going out in the world to be S**T on I'm going to choose the game everytime. I have very few friends but they are all very close to me, am I a little anti-social sure, but that's only because I feel it's a waste of my time to talk with people who don't listen or only hear what they want to. I constantly have to dumb myself down so the general populace can understand what I'm saying and it sucks. People need to slow down and listen a little better to what people are actually saying, you read so fast and barely listen to what's being said that you only see or hear what you want to taking things completely out of context.

Just because you can read and write does not make you intelligent, what makes a person intelligent is actually being able to understand what you reading or what is being said to you in the right context. So next time you all decide to go on a rampage over something make sure that something is actually what you think it is and not what you want it to be.

But is it a real addiction and not just the expression of the syndrome? I more than likely have Asperger's and am intently into video games. But there is an interesting bit to this. I can either focus intensely on the game for hours or be unable to play coherently for 5 minutes, both behaviors fit into Asperger's.

@Hackangel

that's how I felt. It seemed to label groups of people with blanket characteristics... in an overly generalized way.

I re-read the post though, and my second take on it is that when studying their group of game players, the sub-group which demonstrated signs of being 'addicted' to games, demonstrated Asperger's like symptoms.

If you present the data from another angle (one that would be less likely to irritate gamers) you could say:

the closer your mental state is to someone with Asperger (non-empathic, confrontational, objectionable, systemising, etc.), the more likely you are to become addicted to video games. The less Asperger's like you are, the less you could be addicted.

It would be interesting to tie that into a study of all addiction. At the very least it would be refreshing to see the point of the arguement (at least in the USA) change. I'd rather it be:

"Retard + Play games = Addict + social danger"

than:

"Play Games = Addict + Retard = social danger"

(sorry to all the retards out there. Especially those in the UK's parliament)

The people who made the study didn't maybe think that it could be the other way around, that people with similar or so conditions like Asperger's Syndrom, play computer games instead of videogames causing Asperger's Syndrome.

I'm also a bit tired of everyone's cultural thinking that guys has to be extraverts. Many guys (like me) are actually introverts, but are sort of pressured (or so I feel) by society to be extroverts. Somehow, we have created a society in ehich only the extroverts can win (or so I feel). There does not seem to any need for the introverts in society anymore - but I
disgress....

I agree that of course there could be a scale (or line) in which some sort of normality could be pinpointed and so that on this line people diagnosed with Asperger etc. can be pinpointed, too.

I also agree that some people might be more prone to being video game addicts. If you don't know to quit a game or play games instead of going to school or to work, then, yes you do have a problem.

"And that people such as engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists are nearer to the non-empathising, systemising, end of the spectrum,"

I wouldn't make fun of those people if I were you. They'll cut the brakes on your car, develop a formula to solve how stupid you are, then load your PC up with child pornography.

@Gavin Schmitt

People with Asperger's syndrome are not retarded. They are socially isolated people, who usually have one circumscribed area of interest that usually subsides after childhood with training and discipline. Do some research before you make generalizations about people.

Theyre just pointing out something thats a big "no shit" to almost all of us. WEre all nerds here right? Asbergers ius typically what nerds suffer from. I was just saying the well deserved "no shit".

What I'm wondeing is who the he** do these people talk to? I play videogames everyday (the bus ride to work is a long one, thank god for my DS) and I am more sociable than most people I know. I work for a communcation department! I have an easier time communicating with others than most people I know. In every place I go it doesn't take too much time for everyone to know me because I will have gone and introduced myself very quickly. Neurotism, lack of extraversion and agreableness? Doesn't fit me at all and it doesn't fit a lot of gamers I know. It fits a lot more people that are not involved with gaming.

You know... I wouldn't doubt that for a minute.

Why do people keep citing video game addiction in scientific studies? I don't get it. For an addiction to be present there must be a physical component as well as a mental component. This pseudo-science, though interesting, should be better peer reviewed...

Heh, I always thought that many MMO-players had self-diagnosed Aspergers anyway.

If engineers and computer science people fit on the systemising side of the spectrum, I would be curious where Artists fit in.

I would also be curious how they came to the conclusion that engineers have less empathy than (some un-named group)?

Which brings up a point any psychologist learns in his psych 101 class, correlation does not prove causation. Are autistic people more likely to game, or are gamers more likely to develop autism?

Heavensake, it's a physiological state with genetic tie-ins. Those traits are associated with many, many conditions. Might as well draw in depression, general anxiety disorder, etc., etc., etc.. It sounds like an attention grab for Asperger syndrome, more than anything else. Show me more than a press release.

Hackangel,

Heavy video game play =|= addiction. And addiction is clasified as such if and only if a person's life is detrimentally effected by it. Being that you are a sociable person, I doubt you have any signs of either Asperger's or video game addiction.

~~All Knowledge is Worth Having~~

Asspies.

Hmm, you know, I'll bet the people he interviewed were shut ins from Deviantart , XBox Live or various MMO players.

Last time I checked, most gamers that are irate, annoying, and have bad behavior often use "Aspergers Syndrome" to excuse themselves.

Hmm... This study will also be presented (according to the UK Telegraph) in the British Psychological Society annual conference (see the gamepolitics news on April 2 for another study). I wonder if there are more video game research to be presented at the annual conference (tried looking for more, but found nothing)

Hmmm... I've found it easier to relate to computers rather then other people ever since I was three and was first taught:
10 ? "hello",
20 goto 10

However, even though I greatly prefer computers to people, I still have gotten a metric ton of Customer Service awards from three of my previous jobs. I'm good at being a people person even though I don't like people.

Go figure.

As far as video game addiction, I love to play. I've been told I was adicted, but lately I've just been too tired to play. Being a grownup sucks. Tonight, I WANT to go home and either practice SSBB for the LAN Party, or bust open some Royal Seals in Lost Odyssey. What I'm going to do is my taxes and vacuum the carpet.

Even though videogame addiction isn't classifiable as a disease by the AMA, psychologists are used to applying therapy for addictions and obsessions for videogames, internet use, cell phone dependency, etc. This appears to be a "middle ground" issue that should not be alarming nor written-off as a non-issue.

As for AS being considered mental retardation, consider that people with AS are often highly intelligent and motivated which can be considered an advantage. The only problem with the article is that it is almost impossible to spot an AS person if you are not specifically trained in psychology.

I like how "normal" on his scale requires people to feel empathetic towards others. I think I see the point he''s making, but this reads to me like a college kid who doesn't want to actually do research for his paper. He seems to rely a lot on his instincts for what "normal" people are like.

Oh, snap. First, they told me that I was being trained to become a murderer. Now they tell me that I'm autistic. I'm like Jason Bourne, with a helmet and kneepads.

I'm fine with the "findings" of this study, so long as I get to park in the handicapped spot now.

I was born with Asperger's. My psychiatrist (who says I'm stable! =D) has me on some pretty good medication for it.

Pretty interesting and it could well be true but the scale they're talking about sounds a bit arbitrary.

@Talouin: I disagree. Gambling can be a real addiction without a physical component. In my opionion anything that can provide some kinds of stimuli can grow into an addiction. People are addicted to the weirdest things..

@Robert Gauss

The thing is, labelling it as an addiction is the part that is wrong. It's not an addiction. I remember reading someone's comments in the last video game addiction thread that used the example of being addicted to owning a dog to reference being addicted to video games.

For myself, I know that I play a lot of video games. However I wouldn't say that I'm addicted to the games themselves, I more play the games to interact with people in different areas of the continent / world via voice chat, etc that I have come to know through playing the game. I also don't see how playing a lot of different games could be classified as any form of addiction. Ignoring the lack of a physical component it's just like reading a selection of different books. By the same logic, this "scientist" could state that I am addicted to reading The Dresden Files.

This article is stupid as a parent of asperger's syndrome I am very discussed with it. So the whole belief is that anyone who has any interest in video games that they are pre-autistic. Crap!!!!!!!!!! these children have difficulty with socialization. They are very intelligent. There are no two children the same. They are very individual. Some are visual which makes them good at video games and working on computers. Some are auditory which makes them able to recall things they are taught. Over and over idiots come up with stupid theories. First off Asperger's was not an acceptible diagnossis in the U.S. until recently My son was diagnosis long before it was in vogue. Now every child that has been diagnosised with ADD or ADHD is being rediagnosed as ashberger's. If it was not for a pariod society trying to find some stupid answer to why children shoot up schools or why they act out we would have nothing to report. Look at society today. Both parents work to survive their children are left on their own with no supervision and in some cases children are just ignored. our society has only itsef to blame for what is happening. Passing the buck and saying it's something else that is the problem is immature and stupid. "Billy leave me alone I'M busy" or what ever . When you have children be them diagnosised with a terminal desease or have a learning disability or are "normal" according to society you are responsible to help them grow into a productive human being. Otherwise don't have children. Printing this article is very unprofessional and stupid. Try to investigate what you are writing before printing it. Doctors are not gods they have no clue as to the cause or the reasons why children are afflicted with this. Now they are saying that children who have asperger's are addicted to video games give me a break. These children have more understanding of their disabilities than most. They are more accepting to people than the normal people. they are not prejudice They just want to be acceptred for who they are. They have a greater capacity to love others than normal people. They asked the questions, "Why do people hate one another?" Give me a brteak from stupid articles and show some responsibility.

Everyone practice you best impresstion!

Hmm is anyone noticing they stressed MALE pertesipants. So let me get this straight.

A study was conductated, where the result found suggest autism, just because of lack of sociability, AND agreeability. But 86% where male..... hmmm.

This could be because like me when I play I really want people to "shut the hell up" and go away when I'm playing DMC, so I just say yes.

Now the 14% female.... I guess because they're female they don't matter only the 86% male. I have a brillant idea for the next study.... go 50/50!

@Adaptor
That is an interesting point. I would have to read more about gambling addiction as I don't know a lot about the causes and triggers of it. The large problem I have with "video game addiction" is the fact that, barring MMO's, most games are designed with a determinable end to them. Think about all of the video games that you own that you haven't played in a long time. I draw a parallel again to books. By the same logic am I addicted to reading? Also by that logic, am I addicted to education? I have willfully participated in and enjoyed education since I was old enough to understand and make the decision for myself about getting more of it.

this study is done by idiots that don't want to face the truth. Video games are not going to go any. Technology is going to continue and instead of putting the blame on different groups just try to educate and work with kids,

I have Aspergers aswell...

And I would say that Aspies are more likely to game than gaming leading to Aspie traits.

Gaming provides a comfortable outlet, in a world where an Aspie may feel as though they have no control over their life and surroundings they can easily become immersed in the game world where they can pretty much do what they like and be in full control

The clear point to this "research" is to stigmatize a particular act. It isn't ACTUAL "research" on the issue of addiction.

Indeed, a broader examination of addiction in general will show similar results no matter what the act or product that the addiction is focused on.

It's simply amazing the narrow focus of so many "research" studies that blame video games for anything and everything.

Violence
Aggression
Desensitization
Addiction
Mental disease
etc.

Yet, if one zoomed out to a broader examination of these and other issues, one would find that video games do not stand alone in sharing all these factors.

They call it correllation instead of causal.

But the mere limitation of a specific product or act IMPLIES, and has been used to IMPLY causal.

If you do research on violence in general, you'll find a great manyfactors, thounsands if not hundreds of thousands in fact, that would lead an individual to be violent. Those factors would seem small in conjunction with all the other factors.

Focus on one factor and its potential link to violence, and that factor suddenly seems large.

"OMG! Violent video games make people violent!"
"OMG! Preaching bigotry and hate as part of religious dogma make people violent!"
"OMG! Watching a video on the news of a grave injustice makes people violent!"

These narrowly focused "research studies" are misleading and misused. There is no intelligent validity to them and the repeatitive performance of these narrowly focused "studies" show the intent to falsely stigmatize a particular act or product.

Nightwng2000
NW2K Software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

3% showed signs of addiction.
that was the quote I read, including such signs as missing meals and sleep to game.

considering the percentage of people that are addicted to 'something' ie: Alcohol, ciggies, those awful 'Soaps' on TV, of course some people are addicted to gaming.
the question is, do you do something for the 3% that doesn't include ruining it for the 97%.
Stop playing to the lowest denominator for crying out loud.

you are right. But if a child becomes to obcessed with a game they can recognize it and try to stop playing that game for a while. that is why I feel that this article is stupid. I have met many asperger's children over the years and believe they have more sense than people who are considered "normal"

As much as I believe that Asperger's is a bullcrap syndrom made up to explain "anti-socialness", the video game link makes sense. Aspergers are supposed to be anti-social, and have no people skills. Therefore, a mechanical companion would make sense.

Using "addiction" was poor choice of word though. They're no more addicted, than social people are "addicted" to their friends.

I would just like to point out that the study only involved 391 people. That is a really small sample size.

And, I can quit any time I want to.

Just about everyone I know under the age of 40 plays video games. However, the only ones (three of em) I have ever known to be "addicted" to games all had some degree of Asbergers (two were formally diagnosed).

One in particular hasn't worked in over two years, but has spent almost every day playing GTA San Andreas. He knows the entire game like the back of his hand, and even falls asleep every night watching replays of his games (through VCR).

asperger's lack social skills but can be taught to develop them. they are not anti-social that just have difficulty with socializing

there are verying degrees of aspergers so those study are they mild, moderate or severe. they don't tell you because it will mess up there study.

@ Mary

That would mean people need to take responcibilty. Instead of suing companies for they're own neglagance.

And speaking of ADD and ADHD, when I was in high school; school wanted to put me on speed err.. ritilan because I "couldn't focus in class" based soley on the fact I slept in class and questioned teachers on why they needed to repeat the same useless info every single day.

That is because today teachers don't want to teach they want to be your friend. I have another son who does not have asperger's and he gets discussed because a large of the students in class continue to disrupt class and teacher does nothing to stop it then when they have a test the teacher goes around and gives them the answers rather than sink or swim. this is what our country has to look forward in the future.

Pretty interesting find. I've been to one gamer message board and the topic of Aspergers was brought up. Someone told us to take an unofficial online test at some place and around 80% of the people that responded said they had some form of Asperger's.

Now this is an interesting "disorder" because it's really hard to find out they have something. Instead, people would just call them weird. But in more severe cases police have arrested people not knowing they were just acting on their Aspie traits. I wouldn't like to call it a disease, but if it were, it would be a disease that hardly anyone will detect, and I consider those the worst kind to have.

We may not all agree on what Asperger's should be called. Disease, BS term or a social disorder. But we can agree it describes a type of personality. The real question is, is it possible to predict which kids will grow up to be Aspies? Is it hereditary?

*headdesk* of course there is going to be a link.

video games provide a wonderful outlet for aspies. So many people with aspergers have such a difficult time interacting with the world already, having an interactive activity that doesn't have social stress to it is a real boon.

[...] GamePolitics wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptA new study maintains that people who are addicted to video games exhibit characteristics similar to those who suffer from Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism. As reported by Videogamer.com, the research was produced by Dr. John Charlton of the England’s University of Bolton and Ian Danforth of Whitman College in the United States: 391 “computer game players”, 86% of whom were male, were questioned… Results found that the closer the players got to [game] addiction the more likely they were to display negative personality traits. With stronger signs of game addiction came three personality traits that would usually be associated with Aspergers: neuroticism, and lack of extraversion and agreeableness. [...]

i have aspergers and i play a lot of games... wheres that leave me?

i still have a social life, granted mostly online, but that hasn't stopped me from finding a loving GF, or surviving 4 years military service....

and my diagnosis came a little late in life, so i never got the proper "treatment" to counteract a lot of the problems it throws at ya (i'm still rather anti-social, but not as bad as i was thanks to self training)

@ Ebonheart
i had the same issue, cept they did give me the drugs and i still asked questions and slept (slept my entire 11th grade year away and still passed clean! My teachers thought i learned through osmosis, cause i could wakeup in a snap and correct them when they were teaching BS things or trying to trick someone)
i was actually kicked out of a couple of schools (a total of 5 iirc) because of my "disagreements" with some of my teachers too.
Teachers really hate having a student whos smarter than they are, and rather than follows the mindless gibbering they (the teachers) spout off, actually questions things and WANTS to learn more (i went so far as to jack one of my teachers college earth science books.... got busted studying it at home so my parents returned it lol)
I actually was told in some classes to stop reading ahead, and to "stay with the class"

whats worse, is all that being forced to "slow down" has screwed me up now, as i can't study for jack anymore and i feel like i've been beaten with the idiot stick and handed in my i.d.10.T forms for processing.
i can't stand to learn things "by the book" any longer due to bad memories of trying to do so before so my brain dumps the info faster than i can read it.

You can be an anti-social asshole without having a mental disease, some people just aren't friendly, and also like video games. I'm not defending them, but I'm also fairly sure that all the nasty, agoraphobic griefers I meet in online games are autistic.

I mean *NOT AUTISTIC... you guys need an edit system

@Monkeythumbs

The difficult part with aspergers (and why people don't usually seek treatment for it) is the support network for anyone other then a small child really, really, sucks. If your doctor even takes you seriously (which many won't) treatment methods are highly skewed at children. Same with support groups. Most groups are for parents with aspie children or group sessions for the children themselves. Adults are generally told to toughen up and go about their lives.

Thus most adults don't even bother.

no one knows. When my son was diagnosed at age 5 There were no sights or information . I do know that the sooner a child is diagnosed they can be taught what they lack and function as anyone else. they some times need speech therapy, socialization classes and even counsilling. But there is no true treatment because their are over 40 traits and most only have 4 or 10 traits. As i said no two are the same. It is a pervasive disorder not a desease. And as far as I know not hereditary

@JustChris
See the link in Monkeythumbs' post. 4th from the top. Also, if you're trolling for this kind of comment, I applaud you sir/ma'am.

Last time I checked, you could be addicted to also anything.

Last time I checked, to be classified as addiction, it must have negative effect on your life such as temporary acts of violence, direct health problems, losing jobs, suffers from withdrawal if not playing video games for a while, etc. I personally know no one who is a video game addict.

Last time I checked, you can not diagnose autism.

@JustChris

"The real question is, is it possible to predict which kids will grow up to be Aspies? Is it hereditary?"

They suspect it is, but have no evidence.
 
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