Video games were created to be enjoyed and shared with family and friends, but what if you played more than you should? This could lead to an alarming video game addiction without you even noticing it.

According to the World Health Organization or WHO, a lot of gamers suffer from what they call the “Gaming Disorder”. This disorder has been categorized in their International Classification of Disease stating that gaming disorder is a “pattern of persistent gaming behavior, online or offline, as manifested by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over the life interests and daily activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequence.” That being said, being addicted to video games can become unhealthy and could destroy your life. It is also important that you know the signs and symptoms so you can identify whether or not you or someone you love has a gaming disorder.

What Makes a Person Addicted to Video Games?

Video games are fun and as time passes by, graphics have improved to be even more inviting to gamers. But what makes a video game player addicted?

Technically, video games are designed using behavioral psychology to keep gamers hooked. Because these are created to stimulate the brain, overexposure can increase the amounts of dopamine release and change the structures in your brain. That being said, players live in a world that makes them expect instant satisfaction. Players could not even realize that they have been playing for hours on end due to the immersive gameplay. In fact, with newer games designed for players to interact with others and create a world where you feel secure and in control, it is not surprising to see people get hooked.

In order to create more profits, game developers and companies often deploy games that are manipulative in design. This means players can buy things in order to customize their avatars, do micro-transactions, find loot boxes, go on a quest, etc. to keep them invested. In order for the player to get all they need, one has to actually purchase materials, skins, armor and many others that they need with actual money. Governments have even declared online video games loot boxes as illegal because it has been branded as a form of gambling.

Classic Signs and Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

Playing video games for a couple of hours is fine, but to play for more than 10 hrs straight could be destructive. Now, if you or someone you know loves playing video games all the time and has no sense of limitations, gaming disorder treatment could be something to look into. Studies conducted by the American Psychiatric Association say that there are 9 signs that you should watch out for when it comes to diagnosing gaming disorder:

  1. The individual is preoccupied with video games; in short, this person sees, thinks and breathes video games. Not an hour goes by that they don’t think about video games. In fact, it is all they look forward to once they are done with work or school. It is the one thing that is dominating their life.
  2. Mood swings occur once video games are taken away. The person could be irritable, depressed, bored, have uncontrollable cravings, become dull and sad the moment games are taken away from them. This is similar to withdrawal.
  3. A person can play games for hours without any break. They are very much focused on playing, even if it takes them hours to finish something in-game. These people are often motivated by competing with other players, completion of a quest or goal, or simply because they fear that they are “missing out” on the game.
  4. Loss of interest in previous hobbies.
  5. Unsuccessful attempts to control participation in video gaming.
  6. They use video games as a means of escape. It could be used as a way to escape anxiety, helplessness, guilt, etc.
  7. Has lied to their families, therapists or friends about their gaming habits.
  8. Does not care if they have lost a job or relationship, education or even career.

If you or someone you know has exhibited five or more signs on this list, gaming disorder may be the explanation for these actions.

Treatment for Video Games Addiction

If you are diagnosed with video game addiction, it is best to seek help immediately. Treatment for this kind of addiction has a similar approach that is used to treat people with addictions like drug and alcohol abuse. Centers offer residential and outpatient addiction programs to patients that are looking for ways to be treated.

One of the most common treatment therapy is behavioral therapy, self-help groups, and 12-step rehabilitation programs if the case is severe. Since gaming addiction is considered an impulse control disorder, you may struggle with managing your urges to play video games while in therapy. Withdrawal symptoms are very common at this stage, but you will be able to establish a dependent routine that can satisfy your urges.

There are also a number of self-help treatments and therapies that you can try in order to manage your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors related to gaming addiction. They will also teach you ways to divert your urges to something more productive and creative.

Final Thoughts

Video games are great if done in modest amounts. They can be a great way to really pass the time when you are bored or not doing anything. But the truth is that it can quickly turn into something more sinister. This is the digital age and more and more inventions are created each day to help our lives become easier. However, at the same time, it has affected our well-being. We use computers on a daily basis and it is unavoidable to create an addiction may it be to video games, gambling online, or addiction to other things that the computer world offers. If you have developed any addiction and noticed it at an early stage, seek help as soon as you can. Keep in mind that video game addiction can be avoided. You just have to take control of your life and not allow ANY video games to control you.

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