By Maria Tedesco - Clinical Psychologist
The Australian Psychology Society recently published an article investigating 1,945 video players and their type of game use, and compared this to levels of psychopathy (a condition where people experience behavioural problems which includes callous and uncaring acts towards others)(1).
This study looked at “massively multiplayer online role-playing games” – these games have become very popular recently. They are games with no end goal and they are often played for hours or days-on-end (frustrating many parents and partners!). This type of gaming was compared to games that were played on a console – console games have an end point, they are less interactive and are usually played for shorter periods of time.
It comes as no surprise that the level of disruption to the lives of those who played the ‘massive multiplayer’ games was far higher. They were more likely to experience weight gain, sleep disturbances, and their relationships were poorer in quality.
The question is, do these games produce even more dire consequences? Do they increase psychopathy?
According to this study, fortunately, they do not. However, it raises an interesting health concern. The study showed that individuals who engage in the ‘massive multiplayer’ games struggled to control their game use. Their gaming presented more like an addiction and this can be problematic.
Engaging with anything sedentary for hours or days affects long term health and quality of life. Like so many things moderation is key. This can be difficult in the case of modern day gaming and it may require psychological counselling to help children, teenagers and adults learn healthier ways of interacting and relaxing.
(1) Berle, D. et al. (2015). Are some video games associated with more life interference and psychopathy than others? Comparing MMORPGs with other forms of video games. Australian Psychology Society. 67(2), 105-114.