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Anti-Depressants Used Against StarCraft Addiction

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 52 comments

It's safe to say I went a bit nuts during the launch of StarCraft II. Though grown-up responsibilities kept me from playing all day long, I did queue for upwards of two hours to get it at midnight and there were definitely times when I passed up the chance to leave the house or eat lunch because I was too engrossed. "Gimme a sec, I'm kinda low on Vespene gas," was my default response to any questions or comments thrown my way. However, it seems my 'problem' is not as bad as bemused friends and family would think. After all, I don't need anti-depressants to stop the cravings, do I?

According to research carried out in Korea, Bupropion, a popular anti-depressant sold under a variety of different names, has the ability to decrease cravings for Internet game play as well as the brain activity triggered by video game cues. Gamepron reports that a team of Korean scientists decided to test this theory on a group of StarCraft-addicted gamers and found that those who took a short course of the drug seemed to improve significantly.

The team rounded up 11 gamers who all admitted to playing SC for at least four hours per day, or 30 hours per week. Though it doesn't sound like much, Gamepron reports that more than half of these gamers had been absent from school for two months, and two of them had been through divorces as a direct result of their affinity for StarCraft. Also in the test group were eight more StarCraft fans that claimed to play SC for about an hour a day, three days per week.

Scientists recorded the gamers' brain activity at the start of the test using an MRI machine and a bunch of StarCraft cues. Results revealed that those with heavy addictions showed higher left-hemisphere brain activity when shown the cues.

The addicted gamers were then put on a six-week course of slow-release bupropion to try and combat their addiction. Once the course of treatment had been completed, they were retested with the MRI machine and game cues. Gamepron reports that though they still showed levels of left-hemisphere brain activity higher than the casual gaming group, the left-hemisphere brain activity was lower than at the beginning of the study. The gamers also reported experiencing fewer cravings, played for fewer hours and a reported a decrease in their Internet Addiction Scale scores.

Read the full story here.

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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    kinggraves , August 25, 2010 8:44 PM
    I think I just heard a giant CHACHING coming from the direction of Pfizer
  • 20 Hide
    JMcEntegart , August 25, 2010 9:01 PM
    sliemReally? Jane is addicted to SC2? I can't believe it.


    It's not an addiction it's an interest.
  • 20 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , August 25, 2010 8:38 PM
    Why not just enroll in a swimming class or some other form of activity? Geesh. No need to make the drug companies rich over a video game.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , August 25, 2010 8:38 PM
    Why not just enroll in a swimming class or some other form of activity? Geesh. No need to make the drug companies rich over a video game.
  • 22 Hide
    kinggraves , August 25, 2010 8:44 PM
    I think I just heard a giant CHACHING coming from the direction of Pfizer
  • 2 Hide
    griddlez , August 25, 2010 8:44 PM
    Hmm, I play more than that. In-fact I leave SC2 on all the time just so when I return from work I can log in quicker.

    Who's for some FFA?!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 25, 2010 8:52 PM
    Welbutrin is also a drug to treat drug addiction. Go figure.
  • 9 Hide
    sliem , August 25, 2010 8:52 PM
    Really? Jane is addicted to SC2? I can't believe it.
  • 8 Hide
    ncarlson , August 25, 2010 9:00 PM
    I just read the words 'farmville' and 'starcraft 2' in close proximity.
  • 20 Hide
    JMcEntegart , August 25, 2010 9:01 PM
    sliemReally? Jane is addicted to SC2? I can't believe it.


    It's not an addiction it's an interest.
  • -7 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , August 25, 2010 9:15 PM
    JOSHSKORNWhy not just enroll in a swimming class or some other form of activity? Geesh. No need to make the drug companies rich over a video game.
    You gonna tell that to an addict? Hey man, just put down the pipe and start swimming... you'll feel better in no time. These people are ADDICTED to this crap.
  • 11 Hide
    gnookergi , August 25, 2010 9:19 PM
    Why is it so hard just to say no more and put it down? It isn't, it's just immature and weak willed/minded people.

    I bet this will get down thumbed by those who can't face the cold hard truth.
  • 7 Hide
    tetracycloide , August 25, 2010 9:52 PM
    mlopinto2k1You gonna tell that to an addict? Hey man, just put down the pipe and start swimming... you'll feel better in no time. These people are ADDICTED to this crap.

    Compulsive gaming is not an addiction. Compulsive disorders can fixate on gaming the same way they can fixate on washing hands or eating but they're not the same thing. There's no such thing as 'gaming addiction.'
  • 4 Hide
    Camikazi , August 25, 2010 9:54 PM
    mlopinto2k1You gonna tell that to an addict? Hey man, just put down the pipe and start swimming... you'll feel better in no time. These people are ADDICTED to this crap.

    It doesn't take much to get up and do something else :p  I had a friend who would play games for hours and hours each day, eventually I just went over and dragged him out of his house to go out. Worked out well for him, he still played but found out RL could be more fun then the games.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 25, 2010 10:03 PM
    @gnookergi
    You really have a very narrow view on things, I used to think like you before, that is until I went trough some very heavy personal issues which lead to me having some kind of ptsd, before that I used to think you just have to decide to do stuff it's just strong will that you need, but there was nothing I could do, I went to work but could not really concentrate, I was very nervous, I could not take coffee as I started shaking with less than a cup, I just told my boss I was going on vacation, I did not ask, had I stayed I would be wasting time and not getting better, that experience has opened up my eyes and I no longer think that strong will is all that you need, some times it just isn't enough, we all have a limit and when we go over it we simply break down
  • -3 Hide
    motamedn , August 25, 2010 10:12 PM
    This has been posted at several sites and it is consistently misleading.

    Buprioprion CAN BE USED as an anti-depressant but it has another very important property: it is useful in fighting addiction. It is specifically used for smoking (one of the strongest addictions next to heroin), and would be used for things like alcoholism and other compulsive diseases (anorexia/bullemia) if it didn't have the side effect of lowering seizure threshold, which is dangerous in those populations.

    Long story short: You're right. Buproprion is being used to treat starcraft addiction-and there's a story there. I just wish you wouldn't leave it described solely as an anti-depressant-which leads to all sorts of imprecise/inaccurate conclusions ("I don't need anti-depressants to stop my cravings, do I?")
  • -4 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , August 25, 2010 10:31 PM
    tetracycloideCompulsive gaming is not an addiction. Compulsive disorders can fixate on gaming the same way they can fixate on washing hands or eating but they're not the same thing. There's no such thing as 'gaming addiction.'
    People have lost marriages and jobs over this crap. Your preaching to the choir. You can "think" what you want but that's all it is, just a thought.
  • 0 Hide
    cyrusfox , August 25, 2010 10:34 PM
    griddlezHmm, I play more than that. In-fact I leave SC2 on all the time just so when I return from work I can log in quicker.Who's for some FFA?!


    Me too!
  • 2 Hide
    Haserath , August 25, 2010 10:45 PM
    I'm sorry Jane, you just disgraced SC2 by associating it with Farmville. Now bow you're head in shame for ever thinking of "Like farmville, but with the attack function" ;)  .

    I used to be addicted to video games(at least in my opinion), but for some reason I suddenly just got bored of every single one. I don't know why I was enjoying them so much before. Now I just play those games with friends/online friends that are fun.

    Some people are more prone to becoming addicted to things(can't think of a better word >
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 25, 2010 11:15 PM
    As someone with a lot of psychology training, I can assure you that although people CAN become addicted to gaming, particularly if you can talk to other people in real time (Team Speak, Ventrilo, etc). This does not mean they WILL be. Compulsive gaming is like compulsive anything else, do you play a lot, single with no job? Probably not to huge of an issue; gaming (or any other 'addiction' becomes a issue when it interferes with real life (losing job, friends, marriage, etc). If you play 8 hours a day, fine, but if you play then lie about what you did for those 8 hours...it's time to get some professional help. Buproprion IS a anti-depressant, and ONE study said it was mildly effective. All I am saying is this: consider the source of whatever you are reading.
  • 2 Hide
    sockso , August 25, 2010 11:18 PM
    ‎"The participants also underwent MRI scans that showed they responded less strongly to seeing pictures of Zerglings..." hee hee hee...
  • 0 Hide
    sockso , August 25, 2010 11:19 PM
    By the way, I love the poster.
  • 6 Hide
    eklipz330 , August 25, 2010 11:21 PM
    JMcEntegartIt's not an addiction it's an interest.

    that's what i say about marijuana!!
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