Video Game Addiction
Online games are popular daily entertainments for millions of people, but a large number of people (approximately 15% of all gamers) will go on to develop an addiction to video games which has a detrimental effect on their lives.
Playing games is supposed to be an enjoyable pursuit. Games are made to be fun, and this includes video games which millions of people enjoy playing without any problems. However, when gaming starts to take over a person’s life to the extent that it comes first before all other things, including family and work, then it may be the beginning of a serious addiction to gaming. There have even been extreme cases whereby a gamer refused to eat, wash or sleep because they were so obsessed with playing a computer game. Video game addiction is often listed alongside internet addiction and computer addiction as they can all be part of the same problem.
What is Video Game Addiction?
It is also recognised by mental health professionals as an addictive behaviour and is regarded in the same way as any other addiction because it can lead to poor physical, emotional and mental health.
The technology of online gaming has rapidly developed within the past twenty years. Remember, video games are designed to get people hooked. There is always another level to reach, or just one more game to play to earn a few more points. The games are interesting and challenging, and the player gets completely immersed at each stage. There are other worrying aspects of video game addiction which are centred around in-app purchases and random rewards. These practices include token wagering, loot boxes and social casino spending. Many of these procedures are linked to problem gambling because placing bets is normalised through gaming.
Video Game Addiction Symptoms
There are a number of signs to look out for if you are worried that someone you know is becoming addicted to video games. The most common symptoms of addiction include:
- Putting gaming before school, work, time with family — school grades, work level or relationships start to suffer.
- Becoming totally obsessed with their last or next game — it will be all they think or talk about and gaming becomes a major part of their life.
- Having no control over whether they play or not — they feel unable to stop and are compelled to play even when they promised to do something else.
- Feeling angry or irritable when they cannot play.
- Feeling irritable after playing — mood swings, frustration after a game.
- Telling lies about the amount of time they spend playing games — lying to family and friends.
Video game addiction is as real and as serious as other addictions, such as gambling. There is help available to treat video gaming addiction and, as with all addictions, the first step is recognising there is a problem. You can speak to your GP or a counsellor who should be able to provide details of the types of support available.