Helping Shape Your Future

Since 1986

Helping Shape Your Future

Since 1986

Personal Development theme of the month:

Gaming addiction

What is it?

Video game addiction (VGA), also known as gaming disorder or internet gaming disorder, is generally defined as the problematic, compulsive use of video games that results in significant impairment to an individual’s ability to function in various life domains over a prolonged period of time.

What are the symptoms of gaming addiction?

Gaming addiction can cause various symptoms and the severity will vary from person to person. Some of the symptoms can also be caused by other kinds of stress, so it can’t alway be assumed that it is gaming that’s the cause of any problems. The symptoms of gaming addiction are as follows:

Gaming behaviour:

  • Preoccupation with games, constantly thinking about previous games and anticipating playing the next game. Gaming becomes the dominant activity in daily life.
  • Self-imposed isolation in order to guarantee uninterrupted play.
  • The use of gaming to relieve negative moods, such as guilt, anxiety or hopelessness.
  • The need to spend increasing amounts of time gaming.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away. These symptoms are often described as irritability, restlessness, anxiety, or depression.
  • Deceiving family members or others about the amount of time spent gaming.
  • People with increased gaming symptoms may have greater levels of depression and also an increased tendency to become aggressive.

Effects on other activities:

  • Loss of interest in real-life relationships, previous hobbies, and other entertainment as a result of gaming.
  • Risk of losing, or actually losing, a job, educational or career opportunity, or a relationship due to gaming.
  • Persistent tiredness due to lack of sleep.
  • Continued excessive gaming despite being aware of the problems it’s causing.
  • Being unable to reduce playing and having failed attempts to quit gaming.
If someone spends many hours at a time gaming, this does not necessarily mean that they have gaming addiction. However, that amount of time along with the signs listed above indicates a problem. If there is any chance an addiction exists, early recognition and treatment are very important.

How common is gaming addiction?

Many millions of people throughout the world regularly spend time gaming. But gaming addiction is much less common. It is estimated that gaming addiction affects between 1 and 9 out of every 100 gamers. The risk of gaming addiction is greater for people who tend to be impulsive. The risk also increases with increasing time spent gaming.The games most likely to lead to addiction seem to be the massive multi-player online role-playing games. These role-playing games involve an ongoing story that is never quite finished. The story evolves with every play, and this encourages players to keep playing to keep the story going. However, even less intense games can lead to gaming addiction.

How can gaming addiction be treated?

There is currently a lack of very strong evidence on the best treatments for gaming addiction. The most widely used psychological help has been cognitive behavioural therapy. Other approaches, including family therapy and motivational interviewing, have also been used. Treating gaming addiction is based on an assessment of each individual person and the severity of their gaming addiction. The aim of treatment is usually to help the person completely avoid gaming because even a small amount of gaming may steadily increase back to a problem in a person who is susceptible to gaming addiction.
  • Treatment is based on helping a person with gaming addiction to:
  • Gradually reduce the amount of time spent gaming.
  • Recognise their own addictive behaviour.
  • Understand the causes or triggers of their gaming addiction and so develop strategies to overcome them.
  • Understand the harm their gaming addiction is causing.

Useful links to offer support:

Patient connects people with knowledge that makes them healthier, at every stage of their life.

UK Addiction Treatment Centres

Providing excellent care and treatment to enable all those suffering from addictive disorders to achieve a goal of life-long recovery.

Addiction Helpline

Addiction Helpline (0808 163 9632) is a free confidential support helpline for anyone affected by addiction abuse. Your call will be answered by a fully trained addiction treatment expert and not a call centre. Our lines are open 24 hours a day 365 days a year.