Video Game Addiction – Fact or Fiction?


Although not yet recognized by the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), video game addiction is widely accepted as an impulse control disorder, very similar in nature to compulsive gambling or shopping. Those who are afflicted with the pathological use of computer or video games will typically participate in multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) or multi-player domain games (MUDs). In both instances, afflicted individuals will spend an excessive and unhealthy amount of time participating in online fantasy worlds, sometimes interacting with other people online – sometimes playing fighting and killing games on a social chat channel, where they are able to compete with and team up with other gamers. Those suffering from this specific disorder will replace real human interaction with online relationships, sometimes even developing deep emotional attachments to online friends. The inability to engage in real-life interpersonal relationships may stem from past relational trauma, or an extreme lack of self-esteem, resulting in stunted social capability.

Video Game Addiction

Studies consistently show that men and boys are exceedingly more likely to develop video game addictions than their female counterparts. Research shows that one out of every ten youth gamers (aged 8-18) can be classified as a pathological gamer. As video game technology continues to develop and progress, rates of video game addiction are at an all-time high. When it comes to video game addiction in children, there are several symptoms and warning signs that may indicate a serious problem.

Signs and Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

These include (but are not limited to):

  • Interrupted sleep schedules, fatigue, and a propensity to fall asleep in class
  • Steadily declining grades
  • Ignoring or failing to participate in extracurricular activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Failing to complete homework assignments on time
  • Isolation from friends and family members
  • Increased time spent in seclusion, playing video games
  • Irritability when gaming is inaccessible

In adults, the personal consequences of video game addiction can be far more severe. It has been reported that those struggling with this disorder have experienced issues in their professional lives and romantic lives, jeopardizing jobs and relationships to continue compulsively gaming. Many adult video game addicts will lie to their partners, friends, and employers in order to mask the amount of time they are actually spending engaged in online gaming. They may try to cut back, and find themselves unable to successfully do so. In the vast majority of instances, video game addicts will turn to excessive gaming as a way to cope with uncomfortable emotional and mental stressors and disorders, such as anxiety, depression, shame, or relational conflict.

Escaping Reality

Because this behavioral addiction typically stems from a deeper, underlying issue, inpatient treatment is often recommended. Aside from interpersonal and career-related consequences, those suffering from this disorder may experience financial hardship as a direct result of time spent gaming. Many online games cost money, and many MMORPGs require monthly subscription fees. In order to recovery from video game addiction, an individual must be gradually reintroduced to real-life, human interaction. Inpatient treatment facilities geared towards the treatment of behavioral addictions are extremely beneficial in this sense. Group and one-on-one therapy sessions will play a vital role, and a sense of self-identity will eventually be reinstated. The first step, as is the case with any addictive disorder, is identifying a problem. If you or someone you love is struggling with a video game addiction, there is help available. Please call us today for more information on our male-exclusive program of trauma and addiction recovery.