Since the World Health Organization proposed new diagnoses for "hazardous gaming" and "gaming disorder" last year, there's been an ongoing scientific debate about which way the causation for these issues really goes. Does an excessive or addictive relationship with gaming actually cause psychological problems, or are people with existing psychological problems simply more likely to have an unhealthy relationship with gaming?
A recent study by Oxford's Internet Institute, published in the open access journal Clinical Psychological Science, lends some support to the latter explanation. But it also highlights just how many of the game industry's most devoted players may also be driven by some unmet psychological needs.
Getting at the problem
To study how so-called "dysfunctional gaming" relates to psychological needs and behaviors, the Oxford researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,004 UK adolescents and their caregivers. They asked the caregivers to evaluate their adolescents' levels of "psychosocial functioning:" how well the adolescents are able to internalize or externalize problems in their lives as evidenced by their behavior.