• Question: Why do people get addicted to games? I know a lot of my friends spend a lot of time playing games on their Xbox 360s and I used to and still do spend 100s and sometimes 1000s of hours on just one game? I get addicted to games really easily and have probably wasted about 1/2 my life on games but why do my friends and I get addicted to games? Thank you for reading my question Josh

    Asked by predatorian to Cassie, Greg, Karen, Sofia, Tommy on 8 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Sofia Franco

      Sofia Franco answered on 8 Nov 2013:

      Hi Josh,
      Games can be really addictive! I totally get your questions, since I had my little addiction time also (from Saint’s Row, to Fifa, to Sims, to Little Big Planet! It does not matter!). I guess that it will depend on the game, in some you want to beat the game, hit the high scores (or tokens or whatever they give you!), in others you are just captured into the plot and you become a part of it (like you are living it), while others you just want to know what comes next! Someone told me that they also interact with your brain and you get happier (by producing more dopamine which makes your brain go WIIII!)! This is similar to chocolate that boosts your mood by boosting your dopamine and serotonin levels 😉 so you just get happier! This is why people get crazy about chocolate… there is nothing you can do…except trying to be more moderate! Regarding the games, it can be frustrating, because you really feel like you are getting addicted and all your time is for that! If you are sick of it, just try to fight it! Instead of playing Assassins Creed of Call of Duty for endless hours, just go out and look for your own adventure! The truth is that sometimes we don’t know what we are missing out on 😉 and there is a lot of cool stuff to try!

    • Photo: Cassandra Raby

      Cassandra Raby answered on 13 Nov 2013:

      Hi Josh
      Yep, just like you guys I also have had times where I’ve become a little too addicted to video games (mainly the Sims). But just because a person really enjoys playing video games doesn’t alway mean they are addicted to them… and often enough people grow out of wanting to play on them.

      But as Sofia says.. all the chemicals that get released in the brain when you play these games make you feel pretty happy and excited! And when that stops… you would want those chemicals back again, as soon as possible!!

      You can definitely get those chemicals from other things – like exercise – But when all your friends are stuck inside playing on the games it can be hard to want to change from the computer screen. But maybe try to mix it up a little bit more.. there’s an awful lot of cool stuff to see and do 🙂

      This seems like a good page to look at if you want to know more.

    • Photo: Thomas Doherty-Bone

      Thomas Doherty-Bone answered on 13 Nov 2013:

      I’ve been struggling to answer this, other than dopamine stuff Sofia & Cassie have so eloquently anwered.

      There has been some debate over whether video game addiction is actually an addiciton by definition. The classical definition I found was:

      “a behavior, that can function both to produce pleasure and to provide escape from internal discomfort…characterized by…powerlessness and…unmanageability. “.

      Does that describe you guys? I think at your age I was spending a lot of time with video games: Nintendo, Sega, Playstation. Right up to when I was 18/19. There might be the odd month when I spend lots of time playing minesweeper or computer chess (computer cheats!). I feel it wasted a lot of my time. But I enjoyed them. I assume you do too.

      But lets get back to whether this is an addiction?

      Are we “powerless”? i.e. can we stop any time we want to?
      Is it “unmanageable”? i.e. are we missing out on things we should have been doing?

      Maybe for me it was an addiciton. I am sure I could have had some better grades at school if I played less. I could have gone out and explored more maybe. In fact, I think I slowed down a lot when I was distracted by exploring local nature reserves and the beach with me’ol dawg. Guess I grew out of them and saw their limitations. Glad it was video games and not gambling or heroin. Its good to kick back sometimes though. Loved Command & Conquer and the ability to save games is something that I could have done with on the old Nintendo!

      Guess this is more an ecological than a physiological answer from me.

      I think I’m addicted to I’m A Scientist 😉

    • Photo: Karen Bacon

      Karen Bacon answered on 18 Nov 2013:

      I think this is a really interesting question – I am always amazed at some of my friends who spend hours playing computer games because they have never, ever interested me! I think the longest I’ve managed to play a computer game is about an hour and on and off for maybe a week or two and that’s only when I was playing with a friend. I think that the other scientists have given you lots of great information already, I would think that dopamine and other “happy hormones! are definitely a factor – but why get them from playing computer games? I have no idea! I tend to think that for most people, computer games are more of an obsession than an addiction – people can spend hours and hours on a game but once they finish it then they don’t play that game again. Sometimes they may not even go back to playing games for a while once they have won! So once the mission is accomplished, they are less interested. But then the next game comes along and they are off again!