The stereotype of the spotty teenager sitting in a darkened room playing video games all day and night is apparently all wrong.

According to an Australian psychology graduate, gaming addicts are, in fact, not socially inept nerds but perfectly social beasts who just like playing games.

Researcher Daniel Loton quizzed 621 adults in an online survey and found that 15% of these were what he termed "problem gamers", or people who spent more than 50 hours a week playing games.

But of these, only 1% were people who appeared to have poor social skills, specifically being shy.

Loton said: "Our findings strongly suggest that gaming doesn't cause social problems, and social problems are not driving people to gaming".

"What is important to note is that even problem gamers did not exhibit significant signs of poor social skills or low self-esteem."

In fact, added Loton, "problem gamers" were often fans of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, and as such part of a social network of 10 million subscribers worldwide.

Loton, who is gamer himself, concluded that fears about addiction to games have been blown out of proportion.

"There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence about gaming addiction. Online forums abound with tales of people who can't get off the computer", he said.

"But from a clinical point of view, an addiction is a mental illness with very serious consequences. In this context, we need to ask whether gaming is responsible for causing people's lives to fall apart in the same way we see with gambling, alcohol or drug addiction."