Is playing video games bad for the relationship?

Can (computer) gaming be harmful?

Deutsche Welle: Professor Müller-Lietzkow, you are currently at Gamescom. Now I've bothered you in the car racing simulator - how much would you like to talk to me about computer game addiction now?

Müller-Lietzkow: Always happy. Digital games are my passion, my field of research and something that I'm actually always burning for, from different perspectives - also politically.

All the better. The WHO has now officially recognized computer game addiction as a "gaming disorder" as an independent disease that requires treatment. What do you think is this the right step?

No! and yes! Globally speaking, in Asia we have an increasing number of people who find it difficult to break away from gambling. The situation can certainly be described as "critical". In Germany, on the other hand, the studies that are also normatively shaped fluctuate. In other words: Asia cannot actually be compared with Germany - and yet both are linked.

So from a global perspective, the move is absolutely correct. Because we have to think about it - when the gambling is so strong - how one can help. This is also important with regard to the health insurance companies in order to finance the necessary therapies.

And what do you have a problem with?

Müller-Lietzkow is professor for media economics and media management at the University of Paderborn. The console is only in his office, not at home.

With the question of evaluation. In other words: If someone plays like this and for so long, he is immediately dependent. I think if someone - let's say - plays eight hours a day, and he sometimes does that for six weeks in a row during the summer holidays - then he is not immediately dependent. If you present this as pathological across the board, you naturally come into a critical area.

Eight hours of gaming a day is therefore not yet an addiction criterion for you. But what then...?

Exactly, because I would never attach it to hours. After all, there are people who watch TV for hours or read books for hours. The consumption of a medium in itself is not yet an addiction criterion for me. And I wouldn't fix it in terms of time either, but rather in terms of effect.

For example, there are people who seek recognition in games that they don't get in the real world. If you need that over and over again because you often fail in the real world, then you should assume a certain addiction. If you neglect other things - and let's not just say friends or school - but also basic needs, then I would describe it as critical. These are the cases where you have to help and where you should go back to the normal.

The second thing is, when we talk about such relationships of dependency, then one has to see whether it is a dependency on a game world where one enters into parasocial interaction - drifting into this parallel world - or whether it is the successes in the course of the game that are the reward center in the Respond to the brain, whereupon dopamine is released.

I would also look at that very carefully. Because there are actually games that are demanding for a very long time and that can also make it difficult to quit. But that doesn't mean that you are dependent on it, but that you get a very interesting offer.

This is the second point that I find problematic about the WHO's step: a priori, games are more likely to make you sick than they are helpful.

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    Push up!

    It's hard to imagine HOW, but the Japanese Toshiyuki Takahashi actually did it: He pressed a key 16 times - in one second! Fast and frequent pressing is particularly important in shooting games and here he also set a record. In the game "Star Soldier" he shot 12.3 times per second.

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    Plumber becomes world star

    The somewhat plump, mustachioed Italian with blue dungarees is the most famous game character worldwide. He entered the world of games in 1981 following a human example: a certain Mario Segale, the landlord of the Nintendo storage rooms. With "Super Mario" the "jump 'n' run" games became even more popular - running and jumping from level to level.

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    New stage for Hollywood stars

    For many young people, computer games are replacing the cinema. The visuals have become more graphically sophisticated and realistic, the stories more narrative. So it's no wonder that actors are now also appearing - Ellen Page made the start, here in "Beyond: Two Souls". But it also works the other way around: "Tomb Raider" or "Resident Evil" are computer games that were later made into a film.

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    Gambling saves lives

    Some say: video games make you aggressive. The others: They calm you down and increase your ability to react. An agency report from the USA fits in with this: When surgeons play around, they operate faster and more error-free. Another study showed that medical students achieve better results in laparoscopic simulations if they play half an hour of first-person shooters a day.

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    Are computer games to blame?

    The accusations can be heard reflexively in rampages - especially in schools -: The first person shooters are to blame. These are computer games in which the player shoots everything that comes before the revolver through the eyes of the character. Whether this virtual also leads to real violence remains controversial. After the Erfurt rampage in 2002 there was a controversial discussion about a possible ban.

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    Life threatening virus

    "Corrupted Blood" - a virtual plague that was initially only intended for a certain dungeon in "World of Warcraft". But the virus spread to the whole WoW world. Some players even hid virtually in basements or avoided large game cities. After a week the plague was defeated. To this day, epidemologists are studying the course of epidemics using the virtual plague.

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    Life as a game?

    Run away or bribe the border policeman? Serious games make cruel realities tangible as an interactive experience. In "Frontiers - you've reached fortress Europe", the players try to overcome Europe's external borders as refugees. Other serious games delve into the Syria conflict or clarify famine in Dafur.

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    This is sport!

    Only one man, Abdulaziz Alshehri from Saudi Arabia, won the World Cup in 2015 - albeit on screen. The fight for the fastest and best daddlers reached professional level a few years ago. Whole international professional teams like Fnatic or Luminosity Gaming compete against each other in disciplines like "League of Legends" or "Counter-Strike: GO".

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    Highest prize money for Dota Champs

    $ 18,000,000. In words: eighteen million. The highest prize money in an e-sports tournament to date. Dota 2 was played, a team game. Five players each defend their base in a virtual arena and try to destroy their attackers. When the championship was held for the first time in 2011, the prize money was just 1.6 million.

    Author: Nadine Wojcik


You see it differently ...

Correct. If we talk about the future of the digital society and see how much has actually been derived from the game world over the years, then that is the wrong keynote. You shouldn't think about it in black and white, but you have to see that the shades of gray also play an important role.

Those who don't care about digital games often find it difficult to understand technology transfer or the opportunities in other industries. For example, it is about technologies, game mechanics, multimotivational logics [a term from psychology that describes that people are driven to their actions by various influences], which can be used, for example, in the context of digital education.

Speaking of digital education, what do you think about the media literacy of children, parents, students and teachers?

I would primarily speak of digital competence here. This is under-pronounced with parents in many areas, with teachers too. Digital literacy is not an integral part of their training, even if a lot of teachers have probably heard of it before,

And with children and young people, I no longer see digital literacy as a problem, but rather the question of alternatives. That means: They live in a digital world and then tell them to leave the digital. But if you've never shown them how to leave, then they're left. Literally.

Does that mean everyone has to learn something new?

In short: parents, yes, you would have to do a lot. Most of them have a smartphone, but they are not digitally competent. Teachers, yes, because they have a mediating role and can be trained much better in the field of digital skills, also in the form of further training.

And with children and young people, it is more about making the alternatives so attractive that they are also understood and accepted. Index finger logic is of no use; you have to generate understanding. Index finger logic only triggers the stimulus, as always with all things that were forbidden. It used to be like that with smoking, for example. This is not going to work. You have to achieve understanding on a cognitive level.

Are there rules at home?

My daughter is now 16. I believe that she can learn to use media in a very healthy manner.

What about you?

In fact, I don't play at home. The reason for this is that I work a lot and therefore have two principles: I don't work at home and I don't gamble at home.

My console is in the office, which is a good thing because it is part of everyday work for me. But to be honest: The social contact with my family - especially with my wife and daughter - is worth significantly more to me than any computer or video game.

Prof. Dr. Jörg Müller-Lietzkow is professor for media economics and media management at the University of Paderborn.

The interview was conducted by Hannah Fuchs.