Video game addiction

Video game addiction is hotly debated by scientists, researchers and doctors interested in deciphering what causes gaming addiction as well as how to categorize it (currently listed as an impulse control disorder, similar to gambling). Some experts consider gaming addiction a ‘nonsubstance addiction.’ Regardless of whether a person receives a gaming addiction diagnosis, clear evidence exists which demonstrate 8-13% of gamers develop a pattern of gaming behavior which is problematic and interferes with daily life. Gaming addiction has serious consequences on a person’s emotional, physical and social life.


Video Game Addiction

A person may become addicted to gaming because of the reward that is felt. The brain is activated while gaming which transmits dopamine in the brain’s reward circuits, providing a euphoric feeling or ‘high.’ Some predictors exist to determine who is more likely to develop a gaming addiction. The following are just some of the predictors:

  • Male
  • Younger ages
  • Teens engaged in large online gaming communities who share similar personality traits (shyness, external locus of control, use of gaming to deal with negative emotions)
  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Poor self-control


Signs of Video Game Addiction

It is important to notice the signs of a possible gaming addiction before it becomes a serious problem. Some of the following are a few signs and symptoms to look for:

  • Conflicts at home, school, work due to video play
  • Diminished empathy
  • Gaming high
  • Feeling poorly when not playing games
  • Increased aggression
  • Physical pain from too much game time (wrist, nerves, muscles)
  • Promises not to play which fall through
  • Time distortion while playing (forget how much time goes by)
  • Need more game time to feel the same effects (tolerance)


Impulse Control Disorder

In order to be considered an official addiction, the following criteria must be met prior to a mental health professional considering a diagnosis:

  • Cravings, urges or growing tension before video gaming
  • Relief or pleasure after gaming
  • Repeated gaming in spite of negative consequences
  • Failed resistance to impulse of game play even if playing is harmful to self or others


An individual who has a problem with video gaming addiction may play games 2-3 hours or more a day and feel it is difficult to limit or stop playing altogether. In order to quit, a person needs to do honest self examination of the reasons for using games (escape reality, difficulty in school, etc) which can be scary but a worthwhile endeavor, nonetheless. If a person wants to speak with someone about potential addiction, resources exist which can help identify and support recovery from gaming addiction.


Hired Power is committed to providing the best resources and information to support individuals through recovery of addiction. If you or a loved one needs help overcoming video or other gaming addiction, call us for support. We are here to answer questions and provide the right resources to support your recovery journey.

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