Washington, April 23 : A new study by researchers at the University of Bolton in England has revealed that video game addicts exhibit the same personality traits as people with a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome, sufferers of which find social situations stressful.
The study has fuelled concerns that video gaming may lead to a rise in mental health problems like depression.
During the study, John Charlton and his university colleagues examined nearly 400 gamers, most of whom were male.
The subjects were questioned about how much they played video games.
The researchers revealed that they did not specifically tested people with Asperger's syndrome during the study.
They said that that the higher the time the participants spent playing video games, the more likely they were to show three specific traits usually associated with Asperger's syndrome-neuroticism and a lack of extraversion and agreeableness.
Charlton reckons that people with Asperger's may have a higher likelihood of becoming video game addicts, for it allows them to escape into a world where they can avoid face-to-face interactions.
"Our suggestion is that people with Asperger's might be prone to addiction to MMORPGs (massive multi-player online role playing games)," Discovery News quoted Charlton in an email.
"It is definitely not true to say that playing games can cause Asperger's syndrome," he added.
People with Asperger's often can't make eye contact and fail to pick up social cues, like boredom, in others.
The researchers say that the condition tends to isolate children and can trigger depression, which video games may encourage.
Treatment for Asperger's usually consists of improving social skills and breaking repetitive behaviour, the very things video games discourage, they say.
"I worry about the mental health of these kids," Eileen Costello, a pediatrician and author of the book "Quirky Kids", said about children who spend many hours playing video games.
"Video games don't prepare them for interacting with real people. You can't walk into a college interview and say that you are really good at playing Xbox," she said.