Video Game Addiction: Definition, Common Signs & Options For Help


Playing video games is one of the best ways to spend your free time. Video games improve your critical thinking skills and teach you to interact with others. Although doing the things you enjoy is good for your mental health, addiction is a real possibility.

Many people worldwide suffer from game addiction and may be unaware of it. Fortunately, there are several ways you can deal with this issue.

In this post, we’ll explain the meaning of game addiction, its common signs, and the options for help. Let’s get cracking!

What Is Video Game Addiction?

Video game addiction, also known as internet gaming disorder or gaming disorder, is a psychological addiction characterized by problematic, excessive usage of video games, significantly impairing a person’s ability to perform in other areas of life over time.

This condition normally affects gamers who play online and offline. However, most people who experience serious gaming problems play online. Examples of video online video games that are likely to cause addiction include League of Legends, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and PokemonGO.

There are two main categories of video game addiction. The first type of addiction is related to single-player games, while the other is linked to multiple-player games.

Single-player games are normally played by one person at a time and have a clear objective, like saving a princess or beating a specific high score. Video game players obtain dopamine from achieving the objective. If they don’t, they’ll keep playing until they succeed and may eventually get addicted.

Multiple-player games involve playing with other people. The main thing that makes these games highly addictive is that they have no end.

Video game players who struggle with this type of addiction enjoy creating and adopting the behavior of an online character briefly. They may use this chance to escape reality, especially when facing challenges.

Video Game Addiction Statistics

The concept of video game addiction is controversial, just like other addictions. While studies on video games have revealed some unsettling effects, especially among younger players, no evidence shows that regularly playing video games leads to addiction.

Studies indicate that only 1% to 16% of gamers fit the addiction description. However, different organizations have different statistics. According to WHO (World Health Organization), only 3% of video game players become addicted.

The International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction also conducted a study, and their results show that only 3.1% to 6% of video game players suffer from addiction issues.

The American Medical Association figures are quite high compared to the others. Their research indicates that 12% of video game players become addicted.

The American Psychiatric Association figures are the lowest. According to their research, video game addiction only affects 0.3% to 1% of the players.

What Are the Signs of Video Game Addiction?

Video game addiction displays some warning signs. If you or someone you love is a gaming enthusiast, it’s critical to spot these warning signs to avoid future addiction issues.

Self-imposed Isolation

Video games require a lot of concentration to accomplish a specific mission. Playing video games around other people can make concentrating difficult, and you may get stuck on one level. As a result, most video players prefer to play alone in a quiet room.

If you discover that you self-isolate most of the day to go and play video games, you have an addiction problem.

Preoccupation With Video Games

As an avid gamer, you may find yourself reminiscing on your previous gaming experience or thinking about the next one. Although it seems normal, thinking about gaming for most of your day is a sign of addiction.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Sometimes you may not be able to play your favorite video game due to power outages or if you have a lot of school work. Your parents may also take away the game if they discover it takes up most of your time. Feeling sad, anxious, or irritated when you can’t play indicates addiction.

Continued Excessive Use

Another common sign of video game addiction is continued excessive use despite knowing the consequences. You may even promise that you won’t play any video games for a specific period, but you backslide after a few days and continue with the bad habit.

Lying to Family Members

Your family members may be the first to notice when you become addicted to video games. They may try to stop you. Since quitting can be difficult, you may sneak off to play when someone is not watching.

Poor Performance at School

Most video games are time-consuming, and you may not find enough time to study. Sometimes, you may stay up late to play. Lack of sleep makes it difficult to focus in school. As a result, your performance may drop drastically.

Loss of Interest in Other Hobbies

Hobbies are essential since they keep you engaged during your free time. Having multiple hobbies is important for personal development. However, developing extreme interest in only one hobby, such as video games, can indicate addiction.

You Ignore Personal Hygiene

Excessive video gaming can take up most of your time, and you may find it difficult to clean yourself or your room. You may be unbothered by your lack of hygiene so long as you can continue playing video games. This is a serious sign of addiction.

What Is the Main Cause of Video Game Addiction?

Researchers are still working towards identifying the exact cause of video game addiction. So far, the only evidence is that playing video games triggers the brain’s reward center to release dopamine.

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that plays a major role in body functions like a pleasurable reward. If you derive pleasure from playing video games, the brain will link the activity with dopamine. After some time, you’ll develop the desire to play the game regularly, seeking the same pleasure.

This brain chemical also maintains your interest and attention. It encourages you to stay glued to your screen the entire day, and you may not even realize it.

Another common cause of video game addiction is that they’re designed that way. Video games are a business investment for many people looking for ways to make more profit.

One of the strategies game developers use is making the games complex, so you keep coming back for more – but not so difficult that you eventually give up.

How Video Game Addiction Affects the Brain

Your brain may get affected in various ways depending on the types of games you play or the amount of time you spend on them.

One of the common effects that you may experience is dopamine deficiency. Prolonged and regular video gaming sessions lead to the release of huge amounts of dopamine doses. When this happens, the brain will attempt to maintain equilibrium by reducing its dopamine production.

In response, you’ll feel the urge to play more to continue experiencing the same pleasure as before. The brain will adjust by further reducing its ability to produce dopamine.

This cycle will eventually cause the brain to produce fewer amounts of dopamine, leading to dopamine deficiency, causing various effects on your body.

Common signs of dopamine deficiency include irritability, anxiety, and exhaustion. Additionally, your ability to concentrate will be reduced.

Another effect of video game addiction on your brain is that it causes unnecessary fight-or-flight responses. When you face danger, your body naturally produces a fight-or-flight response to protect you from trouble.

Playing violent video games for a prolonged period may make your body release unnecessary fight-or-flight responses. Your brain may begin to believe that the threats and assaults are real and that the game is an actual conflict, making you angry and aggressive all the time.

Constant exposure to video games can also cause depression. Most video games are intense. As you play, your brain produces cortisol to counter the stress.

High cortisol levels can hinder the functions of other hormones, such as serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for uplifting your moods. Cortisol affecting it can lead to depression. If you look at the faces of addiction images in most treatment centers, you’ll notice that most video game addicts look sad.

Other studies have shown that regularly playing video games may affect the development of the front part of your brain, commonly known as the cortex. The cortex is the brain part responsible for helping you make decisions, self-control, and judgment.

Poor cortex development can make you a game zombie since you can’t control yourself. You may also put gaming ahead of your basic needs, such as eating, resting, exercising, and personal cleanliness.

How Do I Stop My Video Game Addiction?

When helping somebody with an addiction, advise them to do the following:

Find New Hobbies

Idleness is one of the things that can push you and start playing video games again. The best way to stop this habit is by finding new things to do during your free time. You can choose to watch a movie, enroll in a dancing class, take a walk, or even read a book to expand your knowledge.

Set Limits

Video games aren’t entirely bad. They only become harmful when you play them for a long time and can’t do without them.

If video gaming is your favorite hobby, you can try to do it in moderation. Determine the time you wish to play in a day and stick to it. For example, you can choose to play for an hour a day.

To make this method effective, set a timer to remind you when to stop. You can also ask a friend to keep you accountable.

Remove the Gaming Devices From Your Bedroom

Having gaming devices in your bedroom can be tempting, and you may stay up late playing instead of getting quality sleep. Falling asleep after playing video games can also be difficult due to overstimulation and exposure to blue light.

Fight your gaming addiction by removing all gaming devices like computers and game consoles from your bedroom. Keep them elsewhere.

Adapt Other Relaxing Activities

Video gaming can be one of the best ways to relax when anxious or stressed. However, if you’re not careful, you may get addicted. Adapt other healthy relaxing methods like yoga, deep breathing, and meditation to help you deal with stressful situations.

Go for Psychotherapy Treatment

Sometimes, your efforts to deal with video game addiction may not bear fruits. In such a scenario, the best solution would be to get professional help through psychotherapy.

You can choose to go for group therapy or cognitive behavior therapy. Family counseling is also available for individuals who want to help their loved ones deal with this addiction.

Video Game Detoxification

Another effective method that you can use to deal with video game addiction is video game detoxification. It refers to staying away from any form of video gaming for a specific period to allow the brain to recover.

Stop video gaming for at least 90 days for this method to become effective. You can also go to rehab for treatment. Most rehab centers combine detoxification with other forms of therapy to help you overcome your addiction quickly.

Take Medication

Dealing with chronic video game addiction can be difficult. Sometimes, the only solution would be taking medication to reduce your cravings. A good example of a medication your doctor may prescribe is bupropion.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the frequently asked questions about video game addiction.

How do you balance video games and life?

As an avid gamer, finding a balance between your life and video games is vital. One of the best ways to do it is to attend gaming events and meet with others as you socialize.

You can also choose gaming titles that don’t consume much of your time so you can get a chance to be with your loved ones. Moreover, you can draw inspiration from your favorite video game character and apply it in normal life.

Is video game addiction real?

Yes, video game addiction is real and can unconsciously affect many aspects of your life.

How many hours a day is a gaming addiction?

Generally, playing video games for more than 20 hours a week or over three hours a day is considered an addiction.

Who suffers from video game addiction the most?

Video game addiction affects everyone, including children, teens, and adults. However, adults between 24 to 33 years are susceptible to this problem, especially men.

What country has the most video game addicts?

According to statistics, the Philippines has the highest number of video game addicts in the world at the moment.

Additional Addictions To Be Aware Of

Besides video game addiction, you should be aware of other forms of addiction, as discussed below.

  • Gambling addiction: Gambling addiction, often known as compulsive gambling, is an uncontrollable desire to continue gambling despite its adverse effects on your life. This problem can significantly affect your financial and social life.
  • Shopping addiction: Shopping addiction is a behavioral addiction characterized by the desire to purchase unnecessary things. This problem is common among people who want to feel better about themselves and avoid dealing with negative emotions like anxiety and depression.
  • Love addiction: Love addiction, often known as pathological love, refers to an excessive interest in a romantic partner, resulting in the renunciation of other interests and lack of control. It usually occurs among people dealing with low self-esteem or abandonment issues.

Bottom Line

Video game addiction is a serious issue affecting society. It can affect how you interact with others or your ability to make sound decisions.

Once you realize you’re suffering from video game addiction, look for ways to deal with it before it goes too far.

You can try to handle it by adopting healthy gaming habits. Ask your family members to help you or seek professional assistance if you find it too difficult.


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