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“Games aren’t the problem” – psychologists call for context on gaming addiction

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When it comes to pathological videogaming habits, we may have been too quick to blame games and their design, rather than considering the wider context of compulsive gamers’ lives. That’s according to new contributions from mental health professionals.

Speaking with PC Gamer magazine in this month’s issue (#337), Kourosh Dini, a psychiatrist who has written a parenting book on videogame addiction, says: “Every single time I’ve interviewed a kid, a teenager, or even someone in their 20s, who is stuck playing games and can’t seem to find a way to sustain themselves and lead a meaningful and fulfilling life, the trouble almost every single time is something besides games.”

“It’s not games that are the problem,” research psychologist Dr Rachel Kowert agrees. “Games have been identified as providing emotional self-medication. They’re a vehicle that different underlying problems are being funnelled through.” Kowert says only 0.2% of players use games in a way that’s “maladaptive,” though PC Gamer points out that other studies have produced a wider range of numbers, with one result finding “pathological patterns of play” in as many as 8% of gamers.

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