Everyone enjoys a good game, and most adults today remember the days of video arcades. Even the first video game consoles brought the joy of gaming to the living room. Thirty years ago, video games were almost inextricably linked to arcades, and no such condition as gaming addiction existed. However, today we have a massive population of video game consoles and a wide variety of genres for gamers of all ages. Therefore, the likelihood of video games to be the subject of addiction is growing regularly.
Along with all other behavioral addictions other than gambling, gaming addiction is not listed in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). It may seem to be no more than an excuse to play games for some people. However, the effects of gaming addiction cause unmanageability in the lives of addicts.
Gaming addiction is not limited to teenagers and children. Many adults also isolate themselves to engage in compulsive gaming. With such a wide variety of game genres, there is something for gamers of every age. In fact, all video games come with an ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating. This rating categorizes the appropriateness of a game for a target audience.
These ratings are as follows:
|C||Early Childhood – Content is intended for young children|
|E||Everyone – Content is generally appropriate for all ages and may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence, and use of mild language|
|E 10+||Everyone 10+ – Content is generally suitable for everyone aged 10 and up, and may contain more instances of a cartoon, fantasy, mild language, and minimal suggestive themes|
|T||Teen – Content is appropriate for teenagers 13 and older. A game may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and infrequent use of strong language|
|M||Mature – Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up, and may contain intense violence, blood, and gore, sexual content, and strong language|
|A||Adults Only – Content is suitable for 18 and older and may include prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic sexual content, and gambling with real currency|
These ratings have been assigned to all games. The goal is to keep inappropriate material from gamers who are considered too young for it. This is similar to the purpose of movie ratings. However, the appropriateness of games for specific age groups does not seem to be the cause of gaming addiction.
What Causes Gaming Addiction?
Like all behavioral addictions, gaming addiction is considered to be an impulse control disorder. It is characterized by a person’s obsession with video gameplay. For most people addicted to video games, the problem often begins in elementary or middle school. For others, gaming addiction can come later in life. It is not generally the first experience with a particular behavior that initiates an addiction. Rather, underlying problems prompt a need for escapism. In other words, compulsive gaming is not the problem, rather a symptom of the problem within the individual. The causes of game addiction are as varied as the individuals affected.
How Video Games Hold a Player’s Interest
Video games are designed to be addictive in the sense that they are fun and hold a gamer’s interest.
This does not make games addictive in the clinical sense. Rather, it is to make a gamer not want to stop playing.
- Games now are open-ended, meaning the player can pick up where he left off, versus having to start over.
- The allure of topping a previous high score is among the simplest and most common methods of drawing gamers in.
- Beating the game itself is another compelling feature of video games. As gamers go from one level to the next, encounter increasingly difficult challenges, and achieve accomplishments and more rewards within the game.
- Gamers can develop an attachment with their avatar as they guide it through the various stages of the game.
- Gamers can explore fantasy worlds while discovering various objects, powers, characters, and phenomenon along the way. This thrill of discovery can strongly compel the gamer to continue playing and exploring.
- Gamers create a character (or avatar) and meet others throughout the game, which has no end. In this process, they develop relationships with other people (their avatars), which for many people with social issues and insecurities, can be their only sense of social acceptance.
Do Video Games Create Gaming Addicts?
Game designers create games that have these addictive qualities. But, it is not the game that creates a gaming addict any more than sex creates a sexual addict. Many people play all kinds of video games. But, they can turn it off when it’s time to go to bed or address obligations.
The key to gaming addiction, as with most any other addiction, is a closer look at the individual. Significant implications are surrounding the environment, temperament, and mental health of those who may be susceptible. There is no one single cause for gaming addiction. However, there are several factors that may classify one to be “at risk.”
Signs and Symptoms of Gaming Addiction
Of course, a person can develop an addiction to gaming for a multitude of reasons. This leads to increasing isolation and more destructive behavioral patterns.
Gaming Addiction Signs for Youths and Adults
The signs of youth gaming addiction will have a slight variation from signs of gaming addiction in adults.
- Thinking obsessively about playing the game when doing other things.
- Spending abnormal amounts of money on computer upgrades and gaming consoles.
|Signs of Addiction for Youths||Signs of Addiction for Adults|
|Preoccupation with the game and continually talking about the game when not engaging with it.||Lying about the amount of time spent gaming.|
|A justification for gaming by claiming a “need” to play or be online||Spending increasingly more time to get the same levels of enjoyment from gaming.|
|Inability to stop, or control the amount of time spent gaming. Also, spending more time gaming than initially intended.||Shame or embarrassment about time spent gaming. May become secretive about the activity.|
|Neglect of responsibilities such as a failure to study or do homework to continue to play games leads to poor performance in school.|
|Avoidance of confrontations, disappointment, or discomfort by hiding in gameplay.|
|Defensiveness, when confronted about the extent of gaming, can often result in fits of rage and uncontrollable anger.|
Gaming Addiction is a Serious Disorder
The unmanageability of gaming addiction is apparent to those around both teenage and adult addicts. And it only gets worse as the addiction progresses. In rare and extreme cases of gaming addictions, gamers have lost their lives due to exhaustion and malnutrition. Plus, some children have suffered from severe child neglect as a result of multiple-day gaming binges.
Like any addict, if a person addicted to gaming does not receive the proper help to address the issues that led to the addiction, nothing will improve. Classified as progressive, addictions do not get better independent of professional help.
How A Forever Recovery Can Help
At A Forever Recovery, we know how hard it is to live with addiction. That is why we work on an open-ended basis to treat the mind, body, and spirit to overcome addiction, sadness, and despair.
If you or a loved one are suffering from gaming addiction, call us now to speak with a trained counselor. We will create an individualized treatment plan to address the underlying issues behind the addiction, and develop awareness and empowerment to live a healthy and happy life free from addiction. Don’t wait. Call now!