Aussie Prof Connects A Lot Of Dots Between Games And Gamblin'

A study of young people who are also pathological gamers, sooprise, turns up a connection to video games, in a report on Australia's ABC News. Notably, however, another researcher knocks down the suggestion of a causal link.

Paul Delfabbro of the University of Adelaide led a team studying more than 2500 Australian teens, more than half of whom admitted to gambling in the past year. OK, fine. Delfabbro then brings out his broad brush.

If you look at those young people who are classified as pathological gamblers you will find that they do have a higher frequency of involvement with many different types of videogame. They're much more likely to play games on Xboxes and similar consoles. They are also more likely to play arcade games ... Those sort of young people who've had this need for more sort of unstructured activities probably also drift into gambling a bit more because it's another activity which you can do if you're out on the street.

This is, honestly, a serious question—are arcades in Australia as dead as they are in the US? (It's 5.30am there, I'm not waking Luke up to ask that.) Because if so, it's an incredible—as in, not believable—assumption that arcades, practically made obsolete by consoles, play a role in conditioning or desensitising young people to gambling in a casino.

If it seems like too easy a connection, don't worry, a guy with a diploma bigger than yours or mine thinks so too. Alex Blaszczynski, a psychology professor at the University of Sydney, more or less states what folks learn in Psych 101, or any form of science, really—correlation is not causation.

Does an interest in gambling lead to people becoming involved in video games or do video games lead to people becoming involved in gambling? Or is there a third factor which accounts for both gambling and videogames? There's also the possibility that some people with certain characteristics would then tend to engage in both video and technology type gaming activity and gambling as well. And that may well be linked to things like risk taking or impulsivity or other factors.

Does Video Game Play Lead to Gambling Addiction? [Game Politics]


    Considering how fussy gamers are about the price of a virtual set of clothing, I don't think most of us are stupid enough to piss away all our money on pokies?

    Ever since I first played poker machines on Pokemon red when I was 8, I couldn't wait to try them. I was sure I'd be addicted to them. Yet now that I am old enough to play them, I find no reason to. I'd much rather waste my money on more games. Is that so wrong?

    I read this in the SMH the other day and being a gamer and a science-like person I was sceptical of the study. At first I was sceptical that the study did their analysis and what not correctly and I forgot the most fundamental rule regarding the media; don't trust the damn media. Least not when it comes to them reporting the results of scientific findings.

    Anyhow my curiosity lead to me looking for the paper and having a quick look at it. For those that are unfamiliar with scientific papers, all of them come with abstracts, which are one paragraph summaries of what the paper is about. It really has to be a complete (and honest) summary 'cause no one's gonna have the time to read through the entire thing, so the summary has to state the main points. Here's the part of the abstract that deals with the results:

    "The results showed that, the frequency of video game playing was significantly related to pathological gambling, but that the effect size was very small and largely accounted for by the greater popularity of both activities amongst boys. There was some evidence for stronger associations between technologically similar activities, namely arcade video games and an interest in gaming machines, but other factors discussed in the paper may also account for this association. In summary, the findings suggested that playing video-games is unlikely to be a significant risk factor for pathological gambling during adolescence."

    The main thing I want to point to is the last sentence. Scientists, for the most part, aren't stupid enough to make statements they can't back up. The media on the other hand are very quick to make statements that are interesting to say the least, but sometimes far removed from the truth. I mean how many people are gonna go look up the source and write a rant on a video game site that hardly anyone reads?

    But for those that have endured my rant, I hope you can at least take this away with you; when it comes to "scientific" findings reported in the media, take it with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to something you're familiar with such as video games. Not to say that the science is bad (which it can be sometimes), but more often than not it's the media reporting it incorrectly, trying to spin a tale out of it.

    Of course this is all from a science-like person's perspective; if you're a journalist and think otherwise, share your thoughts. Though to be honest, and I say this with complete conviction on my part, if you're the editor of the mX; I hate you.


      I totally agree.
      If you just watch Media Watch on the ABC you'll get a good grasp of how the media don't ever do their research properly even when using another person's research findings.

      They simply find the sentence that sounds the most eye-catching and find whatever tidbits that will increase sales and then scrap the rest. Whether it be newspapers, radio or other forms - they all do it. One journalist makes an article based on selective research and the other newspapers/radio/etc follow suite without even checking sources.

    I further echo the comments here, having a basic grasp in the laws of probability I stay right away from gambling. I prefer to play games of skill (aka. computer games) rather than games of chance.

    It's a pity the general media jump's on these studies as absolute fact, rather than the peer review that would occur in scientific journals. This site excluded of course with the quote of a dissenting opinion.

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