In other words, sexist dudes are A chart from the Halo study that shows how nice male gamers were to other males (dotted line) and females (solid line) during gameplay. But the better a player gets, the more likely he is to be nice to ladies.(Kasumovic et al) In today’s online environment, alas, this is not an idle observation.

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"I was surprised we didn't think of it here in America," says Kimberly Young, Psy D, clinical director of the Center for On-Line Addiction and author of .

"I've had so many parents call me over the last year or two, particularly about the role-playing games online.

But there's more to addiction than brain chemistry. There's a psychological component to the addiction, knowing 'I can escape or feel good about my life.'" Bakker agrees.

"The person is trying to change the way they feel by taking something outside of themselves.

For their latest study, published in the journal PLOS One last week, the duo watched how men treated women during 163 plays of the video game Halo 3.

As they watched the games play out and tracked the comments that players made to each other, the researchers observed that — no matter their skill level, or how the game went — men tended to be pretty cordial to each other.

He plays for three to four hours almost every day -- more on weekends -- occasionally putting off meals or sleep. Spending a lot of time gaming doesn't necessarily qualify as an addiction.

"Eighty percent of the world can play games safely," Bakker says.

Kasumovic argues that video games actually make incredible proxies for studying real-life behavior — Halo 3, especially.

There are three things you should know about the game, for the purpose of understanding this study: (1) players are anonymous, and the possibility of “policing individual behavior is almost impossible”; (2) they only encounter each other a few times in passing — it’s very possible to hurl an expletive at another player, and never “see” him or her again; and (3) finally, and perhaps predictably, the sex-ratio of players is biased pretty heavily toward men. In each of these environments, Kasumovic suggests, a recent influx of female participants has disrupted a pre-existing social hierarchy.

Male players who were good at the game also tended to pay compliments to other male and female players.