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Drugs & Health Blog

Are Video Games Addictive?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Ethan Guinn, 2008 NIDA Addiction Science Award Winner

Guest Blogger, Ethan Guinn, a winner of NIDA’s Addiction Science Award, describes how his interest in science (and video games) has brought him lots of exciting changes and opportunities.

As a high school student, my strong suit was always the sciences, so my senior year I enrolled in an advanced science class called Science Seminar. We were given the task to do our own research projects that we would compete with over the next year. I decided to do a project on video game addiction in adolescents. This idea came from observations of “addictive” behavior in myself as well as many of my friends with regard to our video game playing; I wanted to see if there were more people in our age group experiencing the same or similar problems.

I created a survey to test the prevalence of pathological video game playing in adolescents 12-18. The survey was also used to assess the negative effects that pathological video game playing may or may not cause. My results proved to be quite interesting and when I felt I had a good enough sample, I wrote a paper and created a presentation board to compete with in future science fair competitions. Judges also must have felt my results were interesting because I won every fair I competed in throughout Oklahoma.

After winning the 2008 Oklahoma State Science Fair I was sponsored to go to the 2008 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Atlanta to compete with over 2,000 projects from 53 countries. Here I was awarded a 2nd place special award given by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). I was flown to Washington, D.C., two times to present my project to many NIDA researchers as well as to the director of National Institutes of Health (NIH). After these great honors, things began to settle down and I started college. So my project was put on hold for a while.

Two years later, I was asked by Dr. Michael Rich of the Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH) at Children’s Hospital, Boston, to intern at CMCH over the summer to try and publish my project. I accepted the offer, surveyed many more students, obtained confirmation of a research grant provided by NIDA, and set off for Boston.

My time spent in Boston was one of the most exciting times of my life. I was on my own in a city very far and very different from my own. But the staff at CMCH took me under their wing and taught me a tremendous amount about the details behind proper research and analysis techniques. I feel that in the 3 months I spent at CMCH, I may have learned more about the scientific process than all of my years as a science student. And to top it all off, I was able—with a lot of help from some great mentors—to finish preparing my project for journal submission, turning it into a manuscript that we hope will be worthy of publication.

For more on Ethan’s project and a video of his presentation at NIH, visit

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Hi. I am in middle school and I have a mom that smokes and I am tired of it.

well talk to her in private an tell her how you feel.ask her to get help

hey how did u figure out that video games can be so addicitive? Was it hard?

Hello, there im Alex and im in middle School. and I have a mom that smoke's all the time, and im getting pretty sick of it. i alway's tell her to stop smoking but she alway's yells at e about it. saying " I will don't worry about what i do"! Wow, she's dumb! she's needs too understand that it's bad for her. and it causes alot of health problem's!

wow that is hurtful
wow that is hurtful

@Jack -- I used to always try to get my mom to quit smoking. I couldn't understand why she wouldn't quit, and she actually seemed to get mad at me for talking about it. I realized she probably couldn't quit, or didn't care about her health.

I wasn't sure, so I decided I would just make sure that I was healthy and would become a parent that my kids could be proud of.

It's hard, but it helps to accept what we can and can't control or change.

Obviously they are addictive and something has to be done, because my kid has been playing Battle of the Immortals [commercial link removed, per guidelines] for more than 8 hours a day and skips school way too much.

Thanks for finally writing about; Are Video Games Addictive? Loved it!
[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

Well if you ask me they kinda are. Once you start playing its all hard to stop..There is always something more to discover etc and you just can stop. [Commercial link removed, per guidelines] Cysis 3 is now releasing and its kinda very expected game and people will play it up to 10 hours a day to finish it in first day and then multiplayer. If you have time you sure can become fast addicted to games.
video games are addictive but i like to say this. in my recent studies on video games i learned that video games can also be good for a persons brain. Games like first person shooter games helps the brain by having it do three things at once. Video games also help with hand and eye coordinations.