Dr John Charlton of Bolton University has discovered that game playing can dominate users' lives, causing them to miss sleep and meals.
Dr Charlton studied almost 400 regular players of online role-playing game Asheron's Call. The studied showed that the closer the gamers came to being addicted, the more they were likely to show traits of low self-esteem, introverted behaviour and anxiety.
These traits are found in Asperger's syndrome, a type of Autism in which sufferers find it hard to interact with others.
The thinking in the field is that there is a scale along which people, even those considered to be ‘normal', can be placed upon,” said Charlton.
And that people such as engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists are nearer to the non-empathising, systemising, end of the spectrum, with people with Aspergers syndrome even further along again.
Our research supports the idea that people who are heavily involved in game playing may be nearer to autistic spectrum disorders than people who have no interest in gaming.”
Inevitably, the press have jumped all over the research – with the Daily Mail and Metro (pictured) leading the way.