One in Ten Australian Gamers Exhibit Signs of Addiction

Posted on November 1st, 2009

In Australia, a recent online poll of 2,000 video game players found that one in 10 gamers showed signs of addicted behavior, prompting a Sydney University professor and gaming addiction expert to call for the establishment of Australia’s first video game addiction rehabilitation center.

The plea by Vladan Starcevic follows the opening of a video game addiction treatment center in London. Starcevic told the Herald Sun that the same kind of treatment center is desperately needed in Australia.

"We have people in this country who do have a problem with that, just like with gambling and other addictive behaviors," he said.

The British residential rehabilitation unit Broadway Lodge, which treats about 400 addicts a year for issues ranging from drug and alcohol addiction to gambling, has opened its doors to gaming addicts.

The facility reportedly uses a 12-step method to wean residents off their gaming obsession. Treatment involves a mix of group therapy, self-help tapes and videos, along with therapeutic tasks such as cleaning and engaging in recreational activities.

"I think it’s good that someone has taken this seriously," Starcevic said of the British initiative. "I think it should be recognized that this is a problem for some people."

Starcevic and a team from the department of Psychological Medicine at Sydney’s Nepean hospital performed the online survey of about 2,000 gamers, and found that one in 10 participants exhibited signs of addiction.

Starcevic, whose work is due to be published in this month’s issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, decided to delve deeper into the issue of video game addiction after more patients began exhibiting warning signs. He said about 70 percent of problem gamers played for more than four hours a day.

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