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What is Gaming Addiction?

What is Gaming Addiction?

A Gaming Addict. We often hear this label being used to describe someone who is playing video games excessively. While everyone has their own take on how much is considered excessive, many can agree that the line is crossed when real life priorities are neglected. For some, this may mean skipping school, avoiding social activities, or even neglecting personal relationships in a bid to play more. Does this mean the gamer is addicted?


Around the world, there are roughly 3%1 of the population who might be addicted (i.e., meet the clinical diagnosis for gaming addiction). That is roughly 1 in 33 gamers.

Things are much less optimistic in Singapore. Even back in 2010, the numbers were already close to a three-fold increase, going around 8.7%2 of the population. One can only imagine how the situation has become in recent years, particularly with a rapid shift toward the online space as the Covid-19 restrictions came. In fact in 2020, our team at COMEBACK had surveyed roughly 2700 Secondary School students, and found that roughly 1 in 5 students had exhibited some levels of video gaming addiction (https://www.comeback.world/category/reports/).

This would hardly come as a surprise for many. After all, Singaporeans are one of the most active gamers in Asia, clocking an average of 7 hours and 36 minutes gaming per week. In comparison, even other tech savvy countries like Japan and South Korea only averaged at less than 7 hours per week.

In addition, the mobile penetration rate in Singapore comes close to 150%. This means that the average Singaporean would own about 1.5 mobile phones. With the rise in video games being increasingly developed on the mobile platform, video games are thus now becoming so much more accessible for the average Singaporean.

With the odds so heavily stacked against us, we find ourselves wondering about a particular question: why aren’t there more gamers that are addicted? After all, if games were so addictive and being played for much longer hours, wouldn’t there be more addicted gamers than non-addicted ones?

The reality is that gaming addiction goes beyond the number of hours spent. The World Health Organization4 classifies gaming addiction as beyond just excessive gaming, but also having “impaired control over gaming”, “increasing priority given to gaming over other activities”, and the “escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences”. Similarly, the American Psychological Association also proposed a list of diagnostic symptoms to identify someone has Internet Gaming Disorder (i.e. addiction) although they state that more research is required. For a clinical diagnosis to be met, the gamer must meet at least five or more of these symptoms over a period of one year6

  • Preoccupation with gaming
  • Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away or not possible (sadness, anxiety, irritability)
  • Tolerance, the need to spend more time gaming to satisfy the urge
  • Inability to reduce playing, unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming
  • Giving up other activities, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities due to gaming
  • Continuing to game despite problems
  • Deceiving family members or others about the amount of time spent on gaming
  • The use of gaming to relieve negative moods, such as guilt or hopelessness
  • Risk, having jeopardized or lost a job or relationship due to gaming

Hence, a diagnosis for gaming addiction does not appear so simple and straightforward. But why is such a diagnosis necessary?

To reiterate, gaming addiction is not just about playing excessively. Similar to other forms of addiction, the defining characteristic of a gaming addict is the enduring biochemical changes in the brain as a result of continuous, prolonged gaming, which results in the aforementioned symptoms and an impaired sense of control over their own behavior. Oftentimes, the gamer may find it difficult to stop even if he or she wants to, resembling a state of entrapment in the behavior. The altered neurobiological changes in the brain is one reason why addiction has often been referred to as a brain disease7.

So if someone does not meet the criteria for a gaming addiction, does that mean he or she is fine?

In most cases, gamers may fail to meet the full diagnostic criteria of an addiction. This is in line with our own experience on the ground, observing that many excessive gamers exhibit just one to two symptoms, or just showing the beginning stages of impairment in their own lives. Such cases are what we at COMEBACK would refer to as a game dependency, as opposed to an addiction.

While game dependency is not an official term, the word dependence has been widely used in the addiction literature, denoting a state of physical dependence which typically exhibits the symptoms of tolerance (requiring a higher dosage) and withdrawal (side effects following the absence of the substance or behavior). If left unchecked, what usually follows after dependency may very well be a full blown addiction8.

How then can we know if someone has game dependency?

At COMEBACK, we have a publicly available, self-report screening tool, Game Dependency Test, that encompasses the proposed symptoms by the American Association Psychology. Completing the 20-questions test would provide a score that is an estimate for the level of game dependency. While the test provides a quick snapshot of how problematic the gaming has become, it is important to consult a psychologist for a more accurate assessment.

What can be done if someone has game dependency, or even a full-blown addiction?

It is never too late to intervene. At COMEBACK, we provide intervention through 1-to-1 individual consultations and group-based therapy for gamers. Our psychologists are highly experienced working with video gamers, being avid gamers in the past (and present) themselves.

As video gaming has been widely shown to enhance positive development in multiple aspects of the gamer’s life (e.g. cognitive, psychomotor and social skills), our approach at COMEBACK has always been toward striking a healthy sense of balance between their games and real life priorities – harnessing the positive elements of games to ensure a holistic development in their lives. As the saying goes: work hard, play hard!

If you or your child needs help with game dependency, please feel free to contact us at https://www.facebook.com/comeback.world/.

References

  1. Stevens, M. W., Dorstyn, D., Delfabbro, P. H., & King, D. L. (2021). Global prevalence of gaming disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 55(6). 553-568. doi: 10.1177/0004867420962851 
  2. Choo, H., Gentile, D. A., Sim, T., Li, D., Khoo, A., & Liau, A. K. (2010). Pathological video-gaming among Singaporean youth. Academy of Medicine Singapore, 39(11), 822-829. 
  3. Channel News Asia. (2018). ‘As if it was something my whole life depended on’: For some gamers, hitting pause seems impossible. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/technology/online-gaming-mental-health-disorder-who-10534450
  4. World Health Organization. (2020). Addictive behaviours: Gaming disorder. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/addictive-behaviours-gaming-disorder
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596
  6. American Psychiatric Association. (2018). Internet Gaming. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/internet-gaming.
  7. Heilig, M., MacKillop, J., Martinez, D., Rehm, J., Leggio, L., & Vanderschuren, L. K. M. J. (2021). Addiction as a brain disease revised: why it still matters, and the need for consilience. Neuropsychopharmacology, 46. 1715-1723.
  8. Juergens, J. (2021). Understanding The Dependence Vs. Addiction Debate. Retrieved from https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/addiction-vs-dependence/
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Parenting Challenge Workshop: Communicating & Engaging Gaming Youths at Home through Role Play May 2022

Parenting Challenge Workshop: Communicating & Engaging Gaming Youths at Home through Role Play May 2022

This 2-hour workshop is a follow-up to our Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Addiction. During the Webinar, communication strategies and theories on games and gamers were introduced. The application of the strategies and theories in a real-life family situation is not easy. Role play is a good tool to help contextualize the strategies and theories for home situations and deepen the adoption of strategies by reenacting them in a safe environment. For example, role play is used to rehearse the diffusion of difficult situations to prevent confrontations that can jeopardise parent-child relationships. COMEBACK psychologists will put out common scenarios in families and through role play to illustrate the application of the strategies and theories discussed.

Note: 

  • For those who have not attended our Parents Webinar, you are welcome to register but do bear in mind that we will not spend time explaining and going through the strategies and theories in detail due to time constraints. 
  • Each session is similar in its framework, structure and objectives. 
  • Please wear your masks throughout the workshop.
  • All sessions are in-person. There is NO online option.

SESSION 1:
Date and Time: 22 May 2021 (Sun) 5pm – 7pm
Venue: Suntec Convention Centre, Level 3, Summit Rooms 1-2
Limited to 20 registrants
Register here: https://pcw2022-1.eventbrite.sg

SESSION 2:
Date and Time: 28 May 2021 (Sat) 10am – 12pm
Venue: [email protected] Class Room 2
Limited to 10 registrants
Register here: https://pcw2022-2.eventbrite.sg 

SESSION 3:
Date and Time: 29 May 2021 (Sun) 10am – 12pm
Venue: [email protected] Class Room 2
Limited to 10 registrants
Register here: https://pcw2022-3.eventbrite.sg 


Cost: Free
We are very thankful for the support of Tencent in making this possible.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Nicholas Gabriel Lim

Nicholas Gabriel Lim is the principal psychologist and a board of director at COMEBACK.

As a registered psychologist, he has worked with youths for 2 decades. He is the co-founder of the Youth Work Association (Singapore), a clinical supervisor to young budding psychologist, a youth mentor, and an author of the book Parents’ Playbook for Helping Youths Succeed and the ebook Understanding Adolescents, both under the main theme of Clash of the Mind and Heart.

He has spent his career in the people, private and public sectors. All of which have been with youths, families, and advocates of youths.

Given his depth and breadth of work with youths, he has been on various government advisory councils, like the Media Literacy Council and the National Council for Problem Gambling.

Nicholas not only has Degrees in Psychology from the University of Queensland and the Nanyang Technological University, but also various clinical and practice certificates like for Youth Work Coaching and Supervision, Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, Adventure Therapy, and Therapeutic Behavior Management, just to name a few. He is currently reading law.

In his free time, Nicholas enjoys reading a good book and heading to the gym. Together with his beautiful wife, he has three children. He lives by his favorite mantra, a life well reflected would be a life well lived!

Nicholas Lim’s Website: https://nicholasgabriellim.com

Poh Xing Yong

Xing Yong is an Associate Psychologist with COMEBACK. He has struggled with game dependency since Primary school, and now aims to help others overcome their similar struggles in game dependency using his past experiences and background in Psychology. He has completed his Psychology Degree (Honours), and is currently pursuing further studies in Counselling Psychology to further hone his skillsets.


Other Programmes in May 2022

Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Dependency 21 May 2022

The 5th Edition of Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Dependency

We are running the 5th edition of our Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Dependency this year! We are thankful for Tencent’s support to be able to make this webinar free for all.

For this Parents Webinar, we seek to equip parents with frameworks to help parents better understand games, gamers and game addiction, which we termed game dependency. With better understanding of games and your child’s gaming motivations, parent-child communication and relationship can be improved. Developed from the understanding of a youth’s brain development, various communication strategies will be examined. We will also do a brief introduction to neurofeedback intervention that is noninvasive and non-medication-based, that can help programme the brain to achieve greater mastery over ineffective or dysfunctional behaviours, i.e. game dependency, poor relationships, etc.

The speakers are Nicholas Gabriel Lim (Chief Psychologist, COMEBACK), Poh Xing Yong (Associate Psychologist, COMEBACK) and Ruth Lim (Esports Coach, SOOS OIO).

DATE: 21 May 2922 (Sat)
TIME: 10.30am – 1.30pm
Zoom webinar
Free registration

For more information about the webinar and speakers, go to the event page https://uggg5.eventbrite.sg

TeleTrip Festival – Bonding with Family and Friends through Video Games

We are kickstarting this upcoming June holidays with TeleTrip Festival where we gather families and friends to play three popular video game titles, Pokemon UNITE, Brawl Stars and Roblox: Super Striker League. The three game titles are family-friendly and a great activity to bond.

TeleMatch is a friendly tournament with a positive culture to reap the benefits of playing together. We encourage parents whose children are already playing these games to form a team with their child and participate. The rules of TeleMatch are designed to create a safe environment for teams and players. Parents can use the TeleMatch rules to inculcate good gaming habits. There will be an online Zoom briefing a few days before TeleMatch so that parents and teams know what to expect.

TeleTrip Festival is a hybrid event. Registrants can choose to play onsite but slots are limited. Our Esports coach will be onsite to provide very brief team coaching after every match for teams that are playing onsite. 

Click on the respective links to go to the event page for more details and registration. 

Registration Deadline: 15 May 2022 (Sun)

21 May 2022 (Sat) 3.00pm – 6.30pm – Pokemon UNITE https://www.teletripgaming.com/events/telematch-pokemon-unite-21-may-2022/

22 May 2022 (Sun) 10.30am – 1.30pm – Brawl Stars https://www.teletripgaming.com/events/telematch-brawl-stars-22-may-2022/

28 May 2022 (Sat) 3.00pm – 6.00pm – Roblox: Super Striker League https://www.teletripgaming.com/events/telematch-roblox-28-may-2022/

29 May 2022 (Sun) 2.00pm – 7.00pm – TeleTrip Festival Finals

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Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Dependency 21 May 2022

Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Dependency 21 May 2022

We are running the 5th edition of our Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Dependency this year! We are thankful for Tencent’s support to be able to make this webinar free for all. 

In 2020, we had 2765 Singapore secondary school students complete COMEBACK’s Game Dependency Test. 19.4% of the students have game dependency, with 4% being significant. This means that one out of five teenagers in Singapore have some form of disruptions in their lives related to gaming. To read the full report, go to https://www.comeback.world/2020/10/08/game-dependency-in-singapore-secondary-school-students-2020/

Games are here to stay and will be part of our lives. Complete embargo of games for your child and youth will mean social and technology isolation. This is not possible when students are required to go online for some school classes or assignments. On the other hand Game Dependency is a very real challenge for many parents. Yet, game dependency is rarely on the clinical radar as a cause or contributor to educational or behavioural difficulties for which psychological services were being sought as compared to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, insomnia, and mood deregulation.

For this Parents Webinar, we seek to equip parents with frameworks to help parents better understand games, gamers and game addiction, which we termed game dependency. With better understanding of games and your child’s gaming motivations, parent-child communication and relationship can be improved. Developed from the understanding of a youth’s brain development, various communication strategies will be examined. We will also do a brief introduction to neurofeedback intervention that is noninvasive and non-medication-based, that can help programme the brain to achieve greater mastery over ineffective or dysfunctional behaviours, i.e. game dependency, poor relationships, etc.

Date: 21 May 2021 (Sat)
Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm
Venue: Zoom Webinar
NOTE: A unique zoom link will be emailed to you to join the webinar. Please sign up using the email address you use for your Zoom account. Otherwise you might have problem logging into the Zoom webinar as the zoom links are linked to the email provided during registration. 
Cost: Free
Eventbrite Registration: https://uggg5.eventbrite.sg

Special and sincere appreciation to the follow parents group for your support for this webinar and all the work you do for the parents:

  • [email protected], Catholic High School
  • Parents’ Support Group (PROED) Hwa Chong Institution
  • Chapter Zero Singapore
  • Parents Support Group Geylang Methodist School (Secondary)
  • Mum’s Space
  • Yuying Secondary School Parents Support Group (YYSSPSG)
  • Chung Cheng High School (Main) PSG

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Nicholas Gabriel Lim

Nicholas Gabriel Lim is the principal psychologist and a board of director at COMEBACK.

As a registered psychologist, he has worked with youths for 2 decades. He is the co-founder of the Youth Work Association (Singapore), a clinical supervisor to young budding psychologist, a youth mentor, and an author of the book Parents’ Playbook for Helping Youths Succeed and the ebook Understanding Adolescents, both under the main theme of Clash of the Mind and Heart.

He has spent his career in the people, private and public sectors. All of which have been with youths, families, and advocates of youths.

Given his depth and breadth of work with youths, he has been on various government advisory councils, like the Media Literacy Council and the National Council for Problem Gambling.

Nicholas not only has Degrees in Psychology from the University of Queensland and the Nanyang Technological University, but also various clinical and practice certificates like for Youth Work Coaching and Supervision, Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, Adventure Therapy, and Therapeutic Behavior Management, just to name a few. He is currently reading law.

In his free time, Nicholas enjoys reading a good book and heading to the gym. Together with his beautiful wife, he has three children. He lives by his favorite mantra, a life well reflected would be a life well lived!

Nicholas Lim’s Website: https://nicholasgabriellim.com

Ruth Lim

Ruth is on staff with SOOS OIO as an Esports Coach and co-developed TeleTrip, an offline gaming community event. She conducts DOTA 2 foundational classes and workshops for Esports Academy under SCOGA and also teaches the module “Team Management” in Informatics Diploma for Esports and Game Design.

Ruth Lim coached a competitive DOTA 2 team TenTwenty in 2017 that won CPL Championship DOTA 2 Edition 2017, came in 1st in Dew Challenge 2017 and represented Singapore in Asia Pacific Predator League in 2018. Ruth managed Team Impunity FIFA Online 3 who got 3rd in EA Champions Cup (EACC) Winter Cup 2016 representing Singapore. In 2017, she coached Team Impunity FIFA Online 3.

Ruth graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with Diploma in Games & Entertainment Technology and SIT-University of Glasgow in Bachelors of Science with Honours in Computing Science. She also holds a CoachSG coaching certificate.

Well recognized in the DOTA 2 community, Ruth attended numerous international gaming tournaments, got to know and learnt from many of the top players worldwide. Ruth hopes to share her knowledge and experience to gamers in Singapore and beyond.

Poh Xing Yong

Xing Yong is an Associate Psychologist with COMEBACK. He has struggled with game dependency since Primary school, and now aims to help others overcome their similar struggles in game dependency using his past experiences and background in Psychology. He has completed his Psychology Degree (Honours), and is currently pursuing further studies in Counselling Psychology to further hone his skillsets.


Other May Programmes

Parenting Challenge Workshop: Communicating & Engaging Gaming Youths at Home through Role Play May 2022

Following up with the Parents Webinar, we are doing the Parenting Challenge Workshop: Communicating & Engaging Gaming Youths at Home through Role Play. 

This 2-hour workshop is a follow-up to our Parents Webinar. During the Webinar, communication strategies and theories on games and gamers were introduced. The application of the strategies and theories in a real-life family situation is not easy. Role play is a good tool to help contextualize the strategies and theories for home situations and deepen the adoption of strategies by reenacting them in a safe environment. For example, role play is used to rehearse the diffusion of difficult situations to prevent confrontations that can jeopardise parent-child relationships. COMEBACK psychologists will put out common scenarios in families and through role play to illustrate the application of the strategies and theories discussed.

The sessions will be conducted by COMEBACK Psychologists Nicholas Gabriel Lim and Poh Xing Yong. 

SESSION 1
Date and Time: 22 May 2021 (Sun) 5pm – 7pm
Venue: Suntec Convention Centre, Level 3, Summit Rooms 1-2
Limited to 20 registrants
Register here: https://pcw2022-1.eventbrite.sg

SESSION 2:
Date and Time: 28 May 2021 (Sat) 10am – 12pm
Venue: [email protected] Class Room 2
Limited to 10 registrants
Register here: https://pcw2022-2.eventbrite.sg 

SESSION 3:
Date and Time: 29 May 2021 (Sun) 10am – 12pm
Venue: [email protected] Class Room 2
Limited to 10 registrants
Register here: https://pcw2022-3.eventbrite.sg

Cost: Free
We are very thankful for the support of Tencent in making this possible.

TeleTrip Festival – Bonding with Family and Friends through Video Games

We are kickstarting this upcoming June holidays with TeleTrip Festival where we gather families and friends to play three popular video game titles, Pokemon UNITE, Brawl Stars and Roblox: Super Striker League. The three game titles are family-friendly and a great activity to bond.

TeleMatch is a friendly tournament with a positive culture to reap the benefits of playing together. We encourage parents whose children are already playing these games to form a team with their child and participate. The rules of TeleMatch are designed to create a safe environment for teams and players. Parents can use the TeleMatch rules to inculcate good gaming habits. There will be an online Zoom briefing a few days before TeleMatch so that parents and teams know what to expect.

TeleTrip Festival is a hybrid event. Registrants can choose to play onsite but slots are limited. Our Esports coach will be onsite to provide very brief team coaching after every match for teams that are playing onsite. 

Click on the respective links to go to the event page for more details and registration. 

Registration Deadline: 15 May 2022 (Sun)

21 May 2022 (Sat) 3.00pm – 6.30pm – Pokemon UNITE https://www.teletripgaming.com/events/telematch-pokemon-unite-21-may-2022/

22 May 2022 (Sun) 10.30am – 1.30pm – Brawl Stars https://www.teletripgaming.com/events/telematch-brawl-stars-22-may-2022/

28 May 2022 (Sat) 3.00pm – 6.00pm – Roblox: Super Striker League https://www.teletripgaming.com/events/telematch-roblox-28-may-2022/

29 May 2022 (Sun) 2.00pm – 7.00pm – TeleTrip Festival Finals

Posted on

Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Addiction

Parents Webinar: Understanding Games, Gamers and Game Addiction

In 2020, we had 2765 Singapore secondary school students complete COMEBACK’s Game Dependency Test. 19.4% of the students have game dependency, with 4% being significant. This means that one out of five teenagers in Singapore have some form of disruptions in their lives related to gaming. To read the full report, go to https://www.comeback.world/2020/10/08/game-dependency-in-singapore-secondary-school-students-2020/

Games are here to stay and will be part of our lives. Complete embargo of games for your child and youth will mean social and technology isolation. This is not possible when students are required to go online for some school classes or assignments. On the other hand Game Dependency is a very real challenge for many parents. Yet, game dependency is rarely on the clinical radar as a cause or contributor to educational or behavioural difficulties for which psychological services were being sought as compared to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, insomnia, and mood deregulation.

For this Parents Webinar, we seek to equip parents with frameworks to help parents better understand games, gamers and game addiction, which we termed game dependency. With better understanding of games and your child’s gaming motivations, parent-child communication and relationship can be improved. Developed from the understanding of a youth’s brain development, various communication strategies will be examined. We will also do a brief introduction to neurofeedback intervention that is noninvasive and non-medication-based, that can help programme the brain to achieve greater mastery over ineffective or dysfunctional behaviours, i.e. game dependency, poor relationships, etc.

Date and Time: 26 May 2021 (Wed) 10am – 1pm
Venue: Zoom Webinar
NOTE: A unique zoom link will be emailed to you to join the webinar. Please sign up using the email address you use for your Zoom account. Otherwise you might have problem logging into the Zoom webinar as the zoom links are linked to the email provided during registration. 
Cost: $15/registrant
Eventbrite Registration: https://uggg2021.eventbrite.sg

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Nicholas Gabriel Lim

Nicholas Gabriel Lim is the principle psychologist and a board director of COMEBACK. As a registered psychologist, he has worked with youths for 2 decades. He is the co-founder of the Youth Work Association (Singapore), the author of the ebook Clash of the Mind and Heart: Understanding Adolescents, a clinical supervisor to young budding psychologist, and a youth mentor!

He has spent his career in the people, private and public sectors. All of which have been with youths, families, and advocates of youths. Given his depth and breadth of work with youths, he has been on various government advisory councils, like the Media Literacy Council and the National Council for Problem Gambling.

Nicholas not only has Degrees in Psychology from the University of Queensland and the Nanyang Technological University, but also various clincial and practice certificates like for Youth Work Coaching and Supervision, Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, Adventure Therapy, and Therapeutic Behavior Management, just to name a few. He is currently pursuing his law degree.

In his free time, Nicholas enjoys reading a good book and heading to the gym. Together with his beautiful wife, he has three children. He lives by his favorite mantra, a life well reflected would be life well live!

Nicholas Lim’s Website: https://nigel.com.sg/

Ruth Lim

Ruth is on staff with SOOS OIO as an Esports Coach and co-developed TeleTrip, an offline gaming community event. She conducts DOTA 2 foundational classes and workshops for Esports Academy under SCOGA and also teaches the module “Team Management” in Informatics Diploma for Esports and Game Design.

Ruth Lim coached a competitive DOTA 2 team TenTwenty in 2017 that won CPL Championship DOTA 2 Edition 2017, came in 1st in Dew Challenge 2017 and represented Singapore in Asia Pacific Predator League in 2018. Ruth managed Team Impunity FIFA Online 3 who got 3rd in EA Champions Cup (EACC) Winter Cup 2016 representing Singapore. In 2017, she coached Team Impunity FIFA Online 3.

Ruth graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with Diploma in Games & Entertainment Technology and SIT-University of Glasgow in Bachelors of Science with Honours in Computing Science. She also holds a CoachSG coaching certificate.

Well recognized in the DOTA 2 community, Ruth attended numerous international gaming tournaments, got to know and learnt from many of the top players worldwide. Ruth hopes to share her knowledge and experience to gamers in Singapore and beyond.

Poh Xing Yong

Xing Yong is an Associate Psychologist with COMEBACK. He has struggled with game dependency since Primary school, and now aims to help others overcome their similar struggles in game dependency using his past experiences and background in Psychology. He has completed his Psychology Degree (Honours), and is currently pursuing further studies in Counselling Psychology to further hone his skillsets.

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My First Experience with a Gacha Game

My First Experience with a Gacha Game

Recently, there were several  articles about loot boxes and how it can be addictive to players:

“What exactly are loot boxes?” 

Loot boxes are in-game mystery boxes which may contain desirable in-game items such as strong weapons, beautiful costumes and rare characters. It is usually not possible to buy or trade these items directly. The only way to earn them is to try your luck in these loot boxes, which can be exchanged with in-game currency earned while playing or purchased with real cash. Despite the probability of getting the desired item is less than 1 percent, the players are still motivated to increase their chances by getting more loot boxes.  

Games of such nature are also known as gacha games, which stems from the Japanese capsule toy-vending machines called Gashapon or Gachapon. Amongst the gaming community in Singapore or even Asia, we tend to use the term gacha instead. 

So how exactly are these gacha games so attractive? In order to explain, I thought it would be better to share my personal experience from my first gacha game.

My First Experience with a Gacha Game

I have always avoided Gacha games as I hate games which requires me to pay to win. Also, as an explorer player type, I like to collect every single character at least once and I cannot do this in a gacha game without paying a huge amount of money. If you would like to find out what player type you are, you can try the player type test here: https://www.comeback.world/test/gamer-player-types-test/ 

Figure 1 Genshin Impact Advertisement in Serangoon MRT Station

Just before free-to-play role-playing game (RPG) Genshin Impact was released, my friend shared with me about the game and was excited about its launch. Out of curiosity, I asked him to explain what kind of game it is so that I could decide if it was something I wanted to try. Interestingly, the first response I received was “Do you play gacha games? Be prepared because this is a gacha game.”

With my gaming knowledge and prior experience with game addiction, I thought that I would be more resistant to the lure of gacha considering the fact that I hate playing with real cash. Thinking back, I was naïve to think so and the struggle not to think about unlocking a character in Genshin Impact is real.

Figure 2 In-game screen capture

The game as a whole was enticing with fun gameplay, beautiful anime-styled characters and interesting quests to complete. It felt like a full-fledged RPG that I could play for free. Before reaching Adventure Rank 5, there was no mention about spending or in-game currency, which allowed me to experience the world and interact with the characters without much consideration. As the interaction increases, so is my attachment to the characters.

Once Adventure Rank reaches 5, the tutorial guides you on how to exchange the in-game currency for an in-game item. A flashy animation will play while waiting for the item and/or character to appear, making me anticipate for my reward. A common term for this exchange process is called rolling, like how one rolls the dice. 

In a gacha game, the player has no influence on what rewards we receive, and for Genshin Impact, the odds of getting a highly-ranked character is 0.6 percent as informed by the game itself. After completing the tutorial and upon reaching Adventure Rank 7, the players are provided 45 rolls.

After receiving my rewards, I plan to move on with the game. However, after sharing my roll results and watching livestreams , I started to compare and ended up being discontented with what I had. As I progressed with the story, I realized there were characters that I want in my party.

In order to get a specific character without spending initially, the only way was to create a new account, go through the whole tutorial and hope that I get my character within 45 rolls. This process of creating a new account is called a reroll. The time spent to reroll is about 30 to 45 minutes. What happens if the desired character isn’t attained? Repeat.

Although logically 0.6 percent is a really low possibility, the fact that my friends attained the characters made me feel as if I could also get it. Some received theirs in the first few rolls. Despite rolling eighteen times for a certain character, I remembered screaming over the Discord chat with excitement.

I thought that I could stop rolling after this and realized how naïve I was. In order to strengthen this character, I needed to get duplicates of the same character. There was also a character that I wanted which is not available yet, and I was already discussing with my friends if I should start buying the in-game currency to increase my chances. This is before I started on collecting the right weapons and equipment for each character. 

Figure 3 The locks on the right indicates that 6 duplicates of the character are required to unlock it to its fullest potential

At the end of the first week into the game, I have rolled forty accounts and none with my desired lineup. By this time, my friend intervened, and reminded me of our first conversation about the game. That I was losing myself to the temptation of the gacha, becoming one of the others, playing to collect everything instead of simply enjoying and appreciating what I already have. The reason why it was tempting to spend on my characters is that I have already invested so much time to reroll. I felt that it was a waste to not strengthen my favourite character as irrational as it sounds.

How much does it cost to maximise a character?

The calculation below is based on what I want to get and calculation can vary for others.

Figure 4: Cost of Genesis Crystals in Genshin Impact

For Genshin Impact, there are 3 tiers of rarity: 5-star, 4-star and normal. There are also two types of reward: weapons and characters. 

I want to get a highly-ranked 5-star character like most  players  and the probability of obtaining it is 0.6 percent. However, if you have used up 89 rolls without obtaining a 5-star character, the game will give you a free 5-star character on the 90th roll. This is known as a pity roll where you are compensated for your bad rolls. The player is also guaranteed a 4-star or above item/character once per 10 rolls.

During a time-limited event, a promotional 5-star character will be made available. The first time you attain a 5-star character, there is a 50 percent chance that it will be that promotional character. Else, the next character is guaranteed the promotional character. Assuming that I only get a 5-star character through pity rolls, I must perform two pity rolls minimally in order to have a chance at getting the character I want who is not a promotional character.

You would need 160 primogems, an in-game currency, to exchange for 1 roll. The calculation below is based on the smallest package which provides 60 Genesis Crystals for SGD1.48. These Genesis Crystals can be converted to primogems at a 1:1 ratio. Take note that the calculation is an estimate and does not take into consideration the gems you can earn through the game or attain from duplicates.

ResultRolls RequiredPrimogems Required
(160 per roll)
Cost in SGDNotes
1 x 5-star character9014 400$355.20Worst-case scenario
1 x 5-star promotional character guaranteed18028 800$710.40Worst-case scenario
Unlocking maximum constellation on a character which is not a promotional character
(rolling the same 5-star character 7 times)
720
115 200$2 841.60Based on minimum number of pity rolls

After finding out that the entry point to  maximize my character is $ 2841.60 with no guarantees, I decided not to spend this amount of money to keep my false hopes up. 

It took me some days to consider before making the hard decision even though I have not spent on the game. The tempting thought of getting everything through spending lingers. My plan now is to save 180 rolls for a character when he appears as a promotional character, without paying. 

How to self-regulate?

Even with all the prior experiences and knowledge, it is still easy to fall prey into gacha games especially with the influence from other fellow gamers who have spent thousands of dollars to get their desired characters and weapons.

If you are already playing similar gacha games and looking for tips to self-regulate, you can consider the following suggestions:

  1. Constantly remind yourself that you are playing a gacha game. The goal of a gacha game is to get you so immersed that you will spend in order to keep up and maintain your characters. You will never be able to finish collecting as there will be more added into the collection.
  2. Are there ways to find fulfilment with whatever you have in your account? Do you really need all the characters and weapons in order to enjoy the game? Be in control of the game and redefine how you want to play to make it fun. Remember that games are meant to be part of leisure, not a contribution to your stress.
  3. Know your weakness and flee from temptation.  If being easily influenced is one of your weaknesses, avoid watching videos that emphasizes on in-game spending. This includes reaction video on players performing a successful roll. It is encouraging to see streamers like Mtashed taking up the social responsibility not to encourage viewers to roll. https://youtu.be/TsjEIuwywuc 

If you have tried many times to reduce your gacha spending but failed, and it is causing you and/or your family/friends a lot of stress, you can contact us at COMEBACK for help.  

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Game Dependency in Singapore – Secondary School Students 2020

Game Dependency in Singapore - Secondary School Students 2020

Introduction

Game dependency refers to a situation where gamers become dependent on games, engaging in a gaming lifestyle that disrupts some areas of their lives. Some areas of disruption include relationships, school or work performance, and personal health. The National Institute of Education (NIE) conducted a study¹ in 2010 on pathological video-gaming rates in Singapore, and reported a prevalence rate of 8.7%. In addition, Touch Youth Intervention – a division of Touch Community Services – reported local game dependency rates close to 11%, based on their internal findings. With the increased accessibility in gaming and mobile devices, game dependency rates can be reasonably expected to increase over the years. The aim of this study is thus to assess the current game dependency rate among Singaporean youths.

Methods

The survey was conducted on Secondary school students across seven different public secondary schools in Singapore. The COMEBACK Game Dependency Test (GDT) was used to assess for game dependency. It is a 20-question, self-report questionnaire developed by Registered Psychologist, Nicholas Gabriel Lim, that was adapted from the Gaming Addiction Screening survey utilised in the NIE study in 2010. The GDT consisted of additional questions to reflect the proposed criteria of Internet Gaming Disorder in the DSM-5, and can be accessed on the COMEBACK website (https://www.comeback.world/comeback-game-dependency-test/). A reliability analysis demonstrated that the GDT has excellent internal reliability scores, with a Cronbach α score of 0.9, well above the acceptance range of 0.7.

Each participant can possibly score within a range of 20 to 100. Scores between 20 to 59 indicates no game dependency, 60 to 79 indicates moderate game dependency, and 80 to 100 indicates significant game dependency. Game dependency prevalence is calculated based on the total amount of participants with moderate and significant game dependency.

Results

A total of 2765 Secondary school students had completed the survey. The findings reveal a game dependency prevalence rate of 19.4%, of which 15.4% were classified with moderate game dependency, while the remaining 4% were classified with significant game dependency. These results show a significant increase in game dependency prevalence from previous findings, with approximately one in five students experiencing some form of disruptions in their lives due to their gaming lifestyle.. 

Reference

  1. Choo, H., Gentile, D. A., Sim, T., Li, D., Khoo, A., & Liau, A. K. (2010). Pathological video-gaming among Singaporean youth. Annals Academy of Medicine, 39(11), 822-829. 
  2. Channel News Asia (2018). ‘As if it was something my whole life depended on’: For some gamers, hitting pause seems impossible. Retrieved from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/technology/online-gaming-mental-health-disorder-who-10534450

To download a PDF copy of the report, you can go to: http://bit.ly/GDReport2020

Game Dependency in Singapore Secondary School Students 2020
Infographics of Game Dependency in Singapore Secondary School Students 2020
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Gaming OR Studies – Motivations of an Achiever

Gaming OR Studies - Motivations of an Achiever

It is commonly believed that people get addicted due to the exhilarating nature of games. While video games are certainly arousing, my personal experiences seem to point at the cause of something deeper. Take it from me; after all, I used to be described as a ‘game addict’ by my own parents.

My Gaming World

You see, my growing up life was characterized by excessive amounts of gaming. I often gamed throughout the day and into the wee hours of the night, only catching up on sleep the very next day – in class. Skipping school was a routine tradition, as I often alternated between taking MCs, forging parents’ letters, or straight up without reason.

You may wonder: why doesn’t my parents do anything? Do they not care? The thing is, they were both busy working to make ends meet and had little time to supervise me. The situation further expounded when my father was sent overseas to work, leaving the entire burden on my mother to manage both her career, housework, and myself. She did make some effort, conducting nightly spot checks and implementing security locks – measures that were easy to navigate through with time. In the worst case scenario, I could simply head over to a friend’s house, or a nearby LAN shop to play. Gaming meant everything to me.

My motivation toward games was simple: it was a drive toward achievements. I naturally gravitated toward popular, multiplayer games which were competitive in nature, giving me ample opportunities to triumph over others and prove myself (Modern examples included: Mobile Legends, Overwatch). To me, what solely mattered was the recognition and admiration from my peers that followed these achievements.

To be honest, there simply weren’t many opportunities for me to excel outside of games. I was barely coping with my studies and constantly met disappointment from both my teachers and parents. As a result, gaming was the only outlet. As I started to get better at a certain game, I would tunnel vision toward improving at it, sacrificing my studies and any other commitments in the process.

A Comeback Moment

Things began to change during my Secondary school. Somehow, I was scoring well in my English and Humanities subjects, likely due to a good foundation in English and a natural interest toward History. It started as a series of small wins, in the form of occasional awards, and praises from both my teachers and peers. For instance, I vividly remembered my English teacher reading out my compositions to the class as a form of recognition. Even though these little moments were limited solely toward my class, it ignited a desire to do well in those subjects and compete for top place with my fellow ‘rivals’. 

A critical moment happened during Secondary 4. As we belonged to the Normal Academic stream, we had to complete our ‘N’ levels in order to proceed toward Secondary 5. Back then, the ‘N’ level was assessed based on our best 3 subjects. These 3 subject system meant that I needed to only focus on one subject, as I was already proficient in my best two. ‘N’ levels came and went in a flash, although the results were certainly unexpected: I had scored first place for overall score in my cohort. 

The thing is, I wasn’t considered as the forerunner prior to the examinations, although that has certainly changed since then. The entire experience fuelled a desire to repeat the success for ‘O’ levels, which led me to take drastic measures: unplugging the computer, purchasing assessment books, and even seeking my own tutors. My parents were visibly proud for the first time, and wholly supportive in my decisions. I felt unstoppable. Long story short, I managed to achieve first place again among my Normal Academic cohort, and landed in the polytechnic course of my dreams. It was truly befitting of a comeback. 

Not Your Fairytale Ending

This is usually the part where I end with a ‘happily ever after’. The truth is, my Polytechnic years were a dark period, as I struggled to cope with my studies amidst being surrounded by hardworking and capable classmates. On the other hand, I was constantly being known among my peers for being good at games, thanks to the previous years of grinding. My motivation toward studies gradually dipped as I went back into my old ways of gaming.

Looking back at my life, I realized the existence of a swinging pattern – alternating between the extremes of gaming or studies – which continued to manifest itself over the years. The large swings seemed to depend on whichever I was capable of excelling and being recognized for, at that point of time. At least for myself, my game dependency certainly didn’t occur solely due to the thrilling nature of games. 

As I continued pursuing my education in Psychology, I became acutely aware of the motivational tendencies of different individuals. You see, current psychological research on player personalities have indicated the existence of different player motivations – mine predominantly being the ‘Achiever’. This has been widely observed in a competitive striving toward achievements and higher status among my peers, in both gaming and studies, which was facilitated by an ‘all-in’ mentality toward either.

Although gaming still remains an integral part of my life, I find myself capable of managing my priorities and channeling my drive toward long-term commitments (work, relationships), much with the awareness of my own psychological motivation and supportive role models. Could the change have happened earlier? Perhaps, although I take comfort in my story that it is never too late. All these have led me to be fully invested in the COMEBACK program, as my past experiences and Psychology background has equipped me with the critical lens toward understanding the gamers’ underlying motivations, along with the innate desire and ability to connect.

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Game Addiction in Singapore


Game Addiction in Singapore as Reported by Media

Today Online published an article about a gamer with an addiction problem and “It took a US$48,000 (about S$67,000) overseas detox programme for 23-year-old Bernard Lim (not his real name) to kick his gaming addiction. This raises the question if there is many more “Bernard” with game addiction in Singapore. And do these “Bernard” have such financial means to seek help. 

The mobile penetration rate in Singapore as of May 2019 is 154.1%. With an average of 1.5 mobile phones to each Singaporean, mobile phones are a primary medium for social and entertainment. This is especially true for the young. This means that mobile gaming is within the reach of our pockets everywhere we go. In 2011, The National Institute of Education conducted a study concluding that Singaporeans are bigger gamers spending an average of 20 hours per week on gaming than the Americans who played an average of 13 hours per week. 

According to a Channel News Asia article, “The senior counsellor from Touch Youth Intervention, a division of Touch Community Services, cited internal findings that showed that gaming dependency in Singapore is at close to 11 per cent. A 2010 study on pathological video gaming among Singaporean youths stood at 8.7 per cent, it added. This means that for every 100 youths, about 8 of them is losing themselves to games. For every 12 friends of a youth, there can be 1 friend with game dependency. 

What is Game Dependency?

Games Dependency is a situation where you are dependent on your games to some degree, and it is causing some disruption to some areas of your life. The areas could include relationships, studies or work, health, etc. This is technically not addiction because of the lower frequency or intensity of it, nonetheless, it is influencing your life.” – Nicholas Gabriel Lim, Registered Psychologist

To find out if you still have mastery over your own life, click here to find out: https://www.comeback.world/comeback-game-dependency-test/

The Concern

Often times the youths are not able to identify game dependency among their friends. Many gamers do not realise that the friends they play with have problems. Even though they play together but they do not share much information about their lifestyle or even struggles. Peer pressure is real for a youth, for many adults too. Those who fit in will not show or talk about struggles for risk them losing their friends. Or some go to the extreme of using game dependency as bragging rights for approval. Those who do not fit in, nobody notices. Socially isolated gamers are not seen and often forgotten. And although many seek authenticity, keeping up to this ideal can be rather illusive in reality.

Play and Social

Social is an integral part of play. We learn most of our habits and behaviours through social. A key reason why we choose to do COMEBACK in a group setting is to have an environment where play comes alongside with deep social bonding. Through this, gamers can be authentically themselves beyond games.