1 in 10 Aussie Gamers Shows Signs of Addiction

A leading academic has called for the establishment of Australia's first rehabilitation facility designed to tackle video game addiction.

The plea by Sydney University psychiatry professor and gaming addiction expert Vladan Starcevic follows the London opening of what is believed to be the first clinic in the Western world for gaming addicts.

Prof Starcevic welcomed the initiative, which he said was desperately needed here, the Herald Sun reports.

"We have people in this country who do have a problem with that just like with gambling and other addictive behaviors," he said. British residential rehabilitation unit Broadway Lodge, which treats about 400 addicts a year for issues ranging from drug and alcohol addiction to gambling, has opened its doors to gaming addicts.

The facility reportedly uses a 12-step method to wean residents off their gaming obsession. Treatment involves a mix of group therapy, self-help tapes and videos along with therapeutic tasks such as vacuuming, washing up and recreational activities.

A recent online poll of 2,000 players as part of a study by Prof Starcevic and a team from the department of Psychological Medicine at Sydney's Nepean hospital revealed up to one in 10 gamers showed signs of addicted behaviur.

"I think it's good that someone has taken this seriously," Prof Starcevic said of the British initiative. "I think it should be recognized that this is a problem for some people."

Prof Starcevic, whose work is due to be published in this month's issue of The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, decided to delve deeper into the issue of addicted video gamers after more patients began exhibiting warning signs. He said about 70 per cent of problem gamers played for more than four hours a day.