What is Video Game Addiction?

The ultra lucrative video game industry is perpetually releasing more complex, realistic and compelling (enthralling for many) video games have been strategically designed to capture and sustain the attention of increasingly sophisticated and able gamers.  The nature of these video games seems, for many to generate an increased compulsion to relentlessly engage in game play to excessive and life-defeating extremes. Although the American Medical Association has not formally designated what many like to call “video game addiction” as a mental disorder, it’s clearly possible for gamers to develop increasingly life-narrowing compulsions — obsessive immersion in various forms of video games. The decompensation associated with such compulsions frequently interferes with vital life responsibilities:  health-preserving recreation, enthrallment and fun, meaningful social interchange and productivity in work or school — it seems that one’s life can get as narrow as your computer game console and control . . .

What is Video Game Addiction?
Out of Control at the Controls!


Game Addict Pictured

The immensely profitable video game industry markets a significant number of video games to the teen and young adult demographic, yet many older adults are somehow dependent on technology too. It seems abundantly obvious that most of our population would admit to loads of  torment and trouble surrounding technology consumption: cell phone texting and other digitally driven compulsions and technical demands. How many passwords can you possibly remember? Have you ever felt abused by phone menus, technical “support” and aggravating life-draining voice message prompts that tell you just what to do — “after the beep?”

In reasonable amounts, video games can be an enjoyable part of someone’s day. However, it is increasingly clear that video games experience a  broad range of behavioral and socio-relational problems.  Techno pass times come to progressively  interfere with daily responsibilities and functional activities of daily living. Similar to other addictions, there is routinely a persistent and sometimes obsessive desire to spend time engaging in cyber-space. Compulsive technology use always seems to create estrangement in our most important relationships.  Responsibilities are squandered as the gamer is entangled in the web . . .

Dangerous Effects of Game Addiction

Impaired gamers frequently begin to neglect interpersonal and professional responsibilities — work, romance, family or school. Academic performance suffers as compulsive gaming infiltrates work — sleep deprivation, irritability and moodiness are routine!  Relationships languish as a gamer spends more time with video games and ignores real-person actions — isolation, alienation and social withdrawal.

Various physical ailments accompany the gamer who spends extraordinary amounts of time using a computer or a game consoles and controls. Carpal tunnel syndrome may affect hands and wrists due to excessive time spent with gaming equipment. A host of physical complains are frequently noteworthy: headaches, backaches, and dry eyes are additional complaints of gamers. Weight issues may plague gamers also, due to the lack of physical activity connected with this lifestyle. The obsession with video games can also lead to emotional problems, with depression being a common issue for gamers.

Warning Signs

People experiencing compulsions to play video games “addictively” typically exhibit warning signs. Common signs of a problem include a clear preoccupation with video games to the point of neglecting relationships and vital-life responsibilities. People having trouble with video game compulsions may lie to hide the time spent gaming. Compulsive gamers also present anger, irritability, or become entirely forlorn when something interferes with gaming time. During time away from gaming, one may complain that they feel anxious and unsettled.

Preventing Video Game Addiction

It is clearly beneficial to avoid the issues that accompany this compulsion. Instituting clear parental limitations for teens on time spent playing video games may help people avoid developing compulsions to playing these games. Intentionally choose to cultivate other vital in-the-world activities, such as outdoor sports, movement and recreation in the fresh air, concerts, cooking together or spending time with interesting friends and cultivating the kinship of family, instead of playing video games. Parents best provide astute and ongoing supervision and limits on the time children spend playing video games to prevent compulsions from starting. Explore the literature about this! It helps to recognize compulsive gamers are always waiting for the next playing opportunity.

Getting Help for Game Addiction in Seattle 

Call: 206-547-HELP | Dr. Patrick J. Hart | Private Practice

If video game compulsions become an issue, it is possible to get help to resolve these feelings. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help a problem gamer move past the addiction. Appropriate therapy can help the compulsive person refocus thoughts and energy on different activities instead of gaming. If a “game addict” has been immersed in an extensive gaming community, spending time with other people who are also playing video games, it may be necessary to change the gamer’s physical environment for a period of time to institute new habits and thought processes. Private therapy or residential treatment facility could provide this temporary environment to help a person move past video game compulsions.

Learn more about therapy and treatment for Internet Addiction Disorder and compulsive gaming here.