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Game Dependency in Singapore – Secondary School Students 2020

Game Dependency in Singapore - Secondary School Students 2020


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.


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 ( 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.


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.. 


  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

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Game Dependency in Singapore Secondary School Students 2020
Infographics of Game Dependency in Singapore Secondary School Students 2020
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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

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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.