Australian scientists have opined that roughly 8 per cent of people who play computer games could be addicts.
The research team, led by associate professor Vladan Starcevic at the Psychological Medicine Department of Nepean Hospital in Sydney, conducted a study on almost 2000 computer-game players aged 14 and above, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
They found that 156 responded differently to the questions they posed, and appeared to have a problem.
According to their research, symptoms of a problem are if gamers admitted playing longer than they had planned, or were playing games "despite knowing one should not do it."
People who spent a lot of time playing computer games and had lost control were more likely to play multiplayer online role-playing games, such as World of Warcraft, have few real friends and drink more caffeine.
"For a significant number, escape into virtual reality becomes a compelling experience worth sacrificing considerable periods of time as well as real-world activities and responsibilities," the authors said.
Mario Wynands, chief executive of Wellington company Sidhe - New Zealand's largest computer-game maker - acknowledges some gamers have a problem, but believes much of the stigma associated with video- game playing is unfair.
"Video games can be a very compelling hobby, just like going to the gym or reading," Wynands said.
But people spending longer than they planned playing games might not be an indicator of a problem.
"You can become engrossed in a good book and time flies by and before you know it you have spent an hour longer reading than you intended," Wynands said.
The research has been published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.