News report today on Yahoo about a less-than-convincing survey that indicates nearly 10% of young people in the US are “addicted” to video games. A quote:

    A sizable number of young video game players—fully 8.5 percent—exhibit signs of addiction to gaming, a new study has found.

    These kids aren’t just playing a lot. Their gaming interferes with school performance, disrupts interaction with family and friends and poses health problems, the study reveals.

    Douglas A. Gentile, a developmental psychologist and an assistant professor at Iowa State University in Ames, said the study is the first to document the prevalence of video game addiction using a nationally representative sample of children and adolescents.

    “What’s most concerning to me is really the total percentage, just the vast number of kids that are having real problems in their lives because they play games, and they may not know how to stop it,” said Gentile, whose study appears in the May edition of Psychological Science.

    Experts don’t agree on whether such a thing as “video game addiction” really exists. At present, it is not listed as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The next update of that manual, which describes criteria for diagnosing various psychiatric disorders, is due out in 2012.

    “I think we’re at the same place now with video gaming as we were with alcoholism 40 years ago,” said Gentile, noting that decades of research finally showed that alcoholism is a disease.

    The full article has more critical discussion about the definitions and methodology used, and some of the sample questions. This one made me laugh: “Have you every played as a way of escaping from problems or bad feelings?” Well duh. Isn’t that the point?

    Reached for comment, a Blizzard spokesperson exchanged high fives with the media, then exclaimed, “And that’s just from WoW! Wait until we get Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 out there!”  (Joke.)

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