Girl in the Machine
Friday, April 11, 2008
Asperger's and "Video Game Addiction"

A recent study conducted has concluded that those players with signs of "video game addiction" have symptoms similar to those with Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism. This study comes to us from the psychology professors Drs. John Charlton and Ian Danforth, who presented their findings at the British Psychological Society's Annual conference on April 3, 2008. Naturally, I am skeptical of most studies conducted about video games, so it's important to get to the bare bones of each one that crops up. Why don't we filter this study through my patented GitM Study Bullshit Filter:

Who were the Subjects?
Charlton and Danforth used a total of 391 subjects, 86% of whom were male. They are also identified as "computer game players," but that's pretty much it. There is no indication of an age bracket or any other description of these people. While the size of the subject pool is better than a lot of studies I've seen concerning video games, it's still not large enough to justify any findings, in my opinion.

What was the Equipment?
None of the article's I've perused about this study mention any of the equipment Charlton and Danforth used. As far as I could tell, the study was either an interview or a survey, as the subjects were "questioned." There is also no mention of what those questions were, only that said questions were asked to determine whether these subjects showed any degree of "video game addiction," and the relationships between said addiction, "high engagement, and personality."

What was the Subjects' Task?

Considering this study was not an experiment but rather an interview/survey, the subjects only had to answer questions. As for how many, there's no way to tell in the article; it focuses much more of its attention on the results found rather than the process of the study itself.

What are the Results?

Charlton and Danforth claim that the data they found "supports the idea that people who are heavily involved in game playing may be nearer to autistic spectrum disorders than people who have no interest in gaming." They also note that those subjects found to have symptoms of "video game addiction" do not themselves have Asperger's, but that they share similar traits, such as "finding it easier to empathize with computer systems than other people."

What was the Point?

Honestly, there really doesn't seem to be--didn't we already know that people who spend a gross amount of time playing video games aren't socially savvy? First of all, the idea of "video game addiction" has not been accepted as a real disorder, so the basis of the study itself is unfounded. Second, Charlton and Danforth made no definitive link between video game addiction and Asperger's, even stating in the article itself that none of their subjects fit the criterion for diagnosis of Asperger's. The only reason for the existence of this study that I can see is to stigmatize video games even more now that other studies are dispelling the link between video games and violent behavior.

This study seems to imply that playing more video games will give you Asperger's. It doesn't even entertain the idea that, maybe, those people will Asperger's-like symptoms are attracted to not only video games but other forms of entertainment that don't involve direct human interaction. Overall, Charlton and Danforth's study told us nothing new about video games and sure as hell won't cause me to lose any sleep.

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 Posted by PlasmaRit
 2:01 PM + Link to this post

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