Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

January 17, 2011 -

A new study from Iowa State professor Dr. Douglas Gentile concludes that there are "hints of causality" between excessive gaming and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and social problems. You may recall that the ESA issued a statement on Friday calling the study deeply flawed.

The study, "Pathological video game use among youth 8 to 18: A national study," was conducted by Gentile, who is also the director of research for the National Institute on Media and the Family.

Gentile and his group of researchers surveyed 3,034 Singapore schoolchildren about their gaming habits, looking for children who were "pathological gamers." The groups were broken up into several groups: children who were pathological gamers throughout the study, children who became pathological or stopped being pathological during the study, and children who showed no signs of affect.

The survey questions were crafted using existing questions used to find pathological gambling, because gambling is the only medically recognized behavioral addiction.

Participants were asked 10 questions to determine if areas of their lives were being affected by excessive gaming. Did they skip doing homework? Did they fail at cutting back on gaming? Did they play games to escape problems or bad feelings? Has they ever stolen money so they could play games? Respondents had the option of answering "yes," "no," or "sometimes." "Sometimes" answers would count as half of a "yes." If a child has five or more "yes" answers, Gentile concluded that they were considered pathological gamers. The participants were followed over a two year period to gauge if there were any positive or negative changes in their gaming behavior.

"When you play the games, your biochemistry does change," Gentile said, "and it changes in many of the same ways that it does if you take cocaine. Your brain does release dopamine. That adrenaline rush you feel from playing violent games is really adrenaline. That's epinephrine coursing through your veins. You also get other stress hormones—glocucorticoids and catecholamines like cortisol and testosterone. And over time, you get desensitized. You get a tolerance for them, and so you need more new games to get that excitement back again. And that looks an awful lot like a substance addiction."

Gentile also tried to tackle the ESA's preemptive strike on his research:

"They don't really provide any evidence in their statement of anything being seriously flawed," Gentile said. "That doesn't mean all studies don't have limitations; they certainly do. But just having limitations doesn't necessarily invalidate any of the results from it, either."

If there is one positive take-away from this study, it's that Gentile isn't necessarily blaming games, he's blaming impulse control disorders:

"I tend to believe--and there are people who disagree with me--is what we're looking at here is an impulse control disorder," Gentile said. "You know you should do your homework, but you just can't stop playing. You know you have to go to bed, but you have to get just one more level. What needs to be changed is not the game. What needs to change is players need to learn to put it back into balance."

You can read the 12-page study results here (PDF) and judge for yourselves.

Source: GameSpot


Comments

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

Adrenaline rush from playing violent games?  What the hell is he talking about?  If you are getting some sort of rush, of any kind, from playing violent games then you probably are some sort of spaz.  I can say that I can play nearly any violent game and stay baseline calm.  Separation between fantasy and reality and all of that.

That isn't to say that I've never gotten any sort of an adrenaline rush from games.  But that is from the difficulty rather than the violence level.  But that is neither here nor there in the point he is trying and failing to make.  But a game such as Tetris is much much more likely to send me into an elevated state than something like Call of Duty.

Also his notation on tolerance to bodily chemicals is strange.  Supposedly you can form a tolerance to these chemicals, but then if you buy a new game you get the high again... from the same chemicals.... yeah.

-Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person's fear of their own freedom-

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

There is no way he can prove one way causality with that data. If anything I find it very likely that children with pre-existing conditions are more likely to engage in excessive game playing. Exactly like you would expect people with pre-existing mental conditions to be more at risk for substance abuse.

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

Are they saying that excessive gaming makes people depressed and anxious?  I think he got it backwards.  Depressed, anxious people are more likely to "pathologically game." 

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

every time I read one of these articles I just mentally substitute games for sports/football and hey, it still makes sense, but no one would dare say sports is evil

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

He never said they were evil.

 

 

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

Well duh kids want new games.  I love the crap out of the Uncharted games still wouldn't want to play them and only them forever. 

I'm also disturbed that this scholar is arguing that having an emotional reaction to a game is pathological.  Considering that games are a (still developing) storytelling medium, not having an emotional reaction is either a sign that the developers made some serious miscalculations with story or it's simply not a story that appeals to you.

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

He's said absolutely nothing about emotional reactions to games. He's talking about actual chemicals being produced in the brain that produce a "rush" or a "high." (you can argue that emotions are similar chemicals, but I don't think many people equate an adrenaline rush with an emotion)

In that sense, he's just saying that people get pathological reactions to some other things for similar reasons. An adrenaline junkie who does stunts/skydiving/whatever does it for that rush, which comes from chemicals in his body. A drug addict does drugs because the chemicals in his body feel good. A gamer plays games they find exciting (could be violent fast-paced games, strategy games, or tricky puzzles) because that excitment can generate a rush, which is the same as the adrenaline seeker.

Some people want to feel that rush all the time, at any cost, even if it becomes a hindrance to their daily lives. Hence, why people want to recognize THAT level of gaming as a behavioral disease.

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

But why is he talking about chemicals when his study has no biochemical element to it.  That's just irresponsible.

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

Where are these "hints of causality" the article speaks of? All I see is talk of correlation. We already know there's a correlation between excessive video game playing and depression. What we need to know is which one is the result of the other.

As for "When you play the games, your biochemistry does change," Gentile said, "and it changes in many of the same ways that it does if you take cocaine." - the same can be said of any activity that increases happiness. Watching the sunset in Hawaii could also cause a similar effect. So should we ban holidays to Hawaii? I don't think so.

I'm sure depressed kids in Hawaii go out and look at the sunset. I'm sure there's a correlation between excessive sunset-watching and depression. I just don't know for sure if the sunset-watching is a cause of the depression, or an attempt to self-medicate. Though I have a pretty strong hunch that it's the latter. I think the same is probably true for excessive game-playing.

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

"As for 'When you play the games, your biochemistry does change,' Gentile said, 'and it changes in many of the same ways that it does if you take cocaine.' - the same can be said of any activity that increases happiness. Watching the sunset in Hawaii could also cause a similar effect. So should we ban holidays to Hawaii? I don't think so."

Whoa, let's not jump the gun here. First, I doubt that the biochemisty change he's talking about, harmful or not, is the same as one might get watching a sunset, whether in the type or the intensity. Second, he said nothing on banning anything. Seems to me some of us are getting worked up way to soon. I worry that us gamers may be jumping the gun on anyone who may show gaming in any sort of negative light. Has anyone here actually looked at his study? Or at ESA's counter? Or at his own counter of the ESA?

 

 

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

I've seen all of the above.  And he is jumping the gun.  His study is riddled with flaws (poor measures, poor controls for other variables...the relations between pathological gaming and the mental health outcomes are all near zero in effect size, so he's exaggerating them here.  His measure of pathological gaming is controversial at best, probably vastly overidentifying cases, which probably relates to why the effect sizes with the mental health outcomes were so low).

There's nothing in this study about "biochemical changes" so for Gentile to start talking about cocaine comparisons is utter nonsense, and vastly "jumping the gun."

A very poor, deeply flawed study, matched only by unreasonable and irresponsible rhetoric on the part of Gentile.  Course we've seen this from him before.  Anyone else notice that most of the "bad news" on games comes from Iowa State and their close colleagues?

 

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

Don't you get the same biochemical reaction from sports/film/music/makeing out?


I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

Yes, but 'sports addicion' and such do not generate anywhere near the headlines or speaking dollars.

Re: Douglas Gentile's Research on "Pathological Gaming"

I ment playing sports, but that works too. :P


I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Will the FCC preempt state laws that limit municipal broadband services?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
PHX CorpI'm going to do a test stream later today, if anyone is intrested07/31/2014 - 2:40pm
Andrew EisenYes, I'm such a big Nintendo dork that I read Nintendo's quarterly financial reports.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenCool tidbit - Mario Kart 8 sales account for more than half of total Wii U software sales for the last quarter even though it was only available for the last third.07/31/2014 - 2:09pm
Andrew EisenStill a pretty cool promotion. Unfortunately for me, I'm not interested in purchasing Mario Kart 8 and I already owned or didn't want any of the free games on offer.07/31/2014 - 1:43pm
Andrew EisenInteresting that EU had 10 games to choose from while North America only had four.07/31/2014 - 1:41pm
MaskedPixelanteIt certainly worked, I probably would never have bought Mario Kart 8 if it didn't come with a free copy of Wind Waker HD.07/31/2014 - 1:14pm
Andrew EisenI imagine will see similar promotions like "Buy Mario Kart 8 get a download code for one of these specific games" but almost certainly not for all of its (however you would define) biggest releases.07/31/2014 - 11:24am
MaskedPixelanteI wonder if Nintendo is going to be doing "buy one get one free" promos for all their biggest releases going forward.07/31/2014 - 10:48am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/special-report-retail-revolt-over-pc-code-strippers/013614007/31/2014 - 8:27am
ZippyDSMleeWouldn't they be able to afford and get done in a timely manner a general gba emluator for the 3DS? It seems to me if they want to make money off sales they need to do it.07/31/2014 - 7:25am
Sora-ChanAmbassador program, that's what I was looking for. Anyway the other games that have been made no longer exclusive to the early adopters got updates in their software. It'll only be a matter of time more than likely for the GBA to get the same treatment.07/31/2014 - 5:35am
Sora-ChanI might be naming it incorrectly when I say "founder" i mean the program for earlier adopters.07/31/2014 - 5:34am
Sora-Chanthe 3DS's GBA emulator was a rush job due to the founder program. No other GBA titles have been released on the 3DS yet. If/When they do get around to it, they'll more than likely update the emulation software.07/31/2014 - 5:32am
Zenemulator...it's not just a slap job that makes "some" work..they do it for each which is why they work so well. I would rather have the quality over just a slap job.07/30/2014 - 5:48pm
ZenMatthew there is a difference between "worked" and "accurate". You play the Nintendo VC titles they play as damn close to the original as possible. The PSP would just run them as best they could, issues and all. And Masked...EACH VC title has their own07/30/2014 - 5:48pm
MaskedPixelanteOnce again, the 3DS already HAS a GBA emulator, it just can't run at the same time as the 3DS OS.07/30/2014 - 4:54pm
Matthew Wilsonyou cant street pass in ds mode ether, and if moders can make a gba emulator that runs very well on the psp as I understand it. you are telling me that Nintendo devs are not as good as moders?07/30/2014 - 4:49pm
Zenperformance. Halo 1 and 2 worked great because they actually did custom work on each of them...just like Nintendo does now lol07/30/2014 - 4:08pm
Zenexisting hardware while the GBA has to be emulated completely. Same reason the 360 couldn't run most Original Xbox games correctly, or had issues because they just did "blanket approach" for their emulation which led to game killing bugs or horrible07/30/2014 - 4:07pm
ZenSora/Matthew: It's not just Miiverse, but the whole idea of streetpass and things like that would be affected if the OS is not running. And just because a 3DS game can be downloaded and run does not mean that GBA can as easily. Those 3DS games use the07/30/2014 - 4:06pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician