Gaming is a dearly beloved pastime in geek culture. And even if you don’t identify as a geek, many people still play video games, whether on their phones, consoles, or computers. Additionally, more and more people are taking video games seriously, as the world of eSports has expanded in recent years, and even some colleges have eSports teams representing them in competitions. With the growth of VR headsets and the popularity of many gaming franchises, video games are becoming more and more accessible to the masses. But what about those individuals that just can’t seem to put down the controller? People throw around the word, ‘addiction,’ but when does it actually become a serious problem? Should it be called an addiction at all?
The Concept of Addiction
People can be addicted to a lot of things, drugs and alcohol being some of the most common. Most definitions of the word addiction mention dependency or habit, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.” Addiction involves the endless cycle of chasing a sensation of reward or relief, in which case an addiction to gaming seems plausible.
An Addiction to Video Games?
To some parents, any kid that spends a lot of time on video games is addicted, the same way they claim they’re addicted to chocolate, but how do you distinguish an intense like from a potentially dangerous problem? There are several signs to recognize the difference between addiction and enthusiasm. Video addiction is actually two-fold, and part of this concept lies within game design. Game companies want their users to keep playing. They want players to invest their time and money. Completing tasks and setting scores can induce a feeling of great accomplishment, whereas users in online multiplayer games become enamored with becoming a different person. They may even create their own online family and look for games to avoid their real-world responsibilities.
The causes of various game addiction cases may not be evident at first. Addiction could be caused by the nature of the game, such as withholding the desired reward while making the challenge doable. Essentially, success is always imminent, and the player is always chasing it. Incidents within the real world may push a gamer to continually interact with online friends, where they can create an alternate reality for themselves.
Some physical symptoms may be obvious, but many others could be harder to spot. Eye strain or headaches could result from too much screen time, and using controllers for long periods of time could cause wrist problems. Fatigue and a lack of personal care could result from increased time dedicated to the game. Other symptoms include continually thinking about the game, being antsy when unable to play, and pushing real-life friends and family away.
What’s at Stake?
An intense video game habit could cause some severe health problems later on. Poor diet and lack of sleep could cause various disorders, and if the user spends too much time away from their day job, they may face financial ruin. They could also suffer from little socialization with loved ones and friends. Gaming addiction may even result in depression or influence substance abuse.
So What are the Options?
If an individual displays signs of video game addiction, there’s a strong chance they could benefit from professional help. Since many game addicts also experience depression, antidepressant medication is a common suggestion. These drugs impact everyone differently, and deciding to take them isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Side effects can make recovery increasingly tricky. Professional help can nudge addicts into spending more time with friends or focusing on a career. There are even dedicated rehab treatment center programs.
Video game addiction has been officially recognized as a disorder, bringing professional validity to this serious issue. This type of addiction presents a potential recovery problem, however: games are everywhere. They’re on phones, computers, and even some workplaces provide break room gaming consoles. The potential for gaming is unavoidable for most, and so quitting games altogether as a treatment plan may fail quickly. Therefore, a more controlled system of use is typically advised. Plenty of people are excited and entertained by games, and as a result, spend a lot of their time playing. When this dedication impacts other areas of life, there is still hope for recovery.
For most people, a gaming addiction doesn’t seem to be a possibility in the future, but regardless, just keep in mind any of the potential symptoms so you can watch out for it in any case.