Excessive video gamers may have higher levels of anxiety and depression, according to preliminary studies at Victoria University.
Video gaming researcher Daniel Loton is conducting a global study comparing academic results, relationships and physical and mental health in excessive gamers - who spent on average more than 33 hours a week playing video games - with more balanced players who devoted 21 hours to the pursuit.
Preliminary results show the excessive gamers reporting15 per cent more stress and anxiety and 25 per cent more depression than balanced gamers.
"Both groups averaged levels of stress, anxiety and depression well above norms reported in past studies," Mr Loton said. "But most alarming was that excessive gamers scored more than half the maximum measure for each and enough to determine clinical significance."
He said excessive gamers also showed different coping styles than balanced gamers.
"Excessive gamers displayed higher avoidance coping and lower approach coping styles compared to balanced gamers," he said. "This may be reflective of video games being used as a coping mechanism to relax and as a distraction from difficulties."
He said while it appeared some problems were associated with excessive video game play, including lower mental health, the severity of these problems and whether they came before or after excessive play was yet to be determined.
Meanwhile excessive gaming did not appear to affect success or satisfaction at work or study. In fact, excessive players showed marginally higher success in their studies, failing fewer subjects and scoring higher grade averages than they had intended.
Mr Loton said more data was needed to definitively answer the question of how much video game play was too much and invited adult gamers to take part by visiting www.videogamestudies.net
Participation involves completing online surveys monthly for a short period, and all participants who complete the study go into the draw to win $500 Australian dollars.