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What Is Gaming Addiction: Everything You Need To Know

Gaming disorder or addiction is a real problem for many people. If you are one of the millions of people who struggle with gaming addiction, you may feel like you are alone. The good news is that there is help available! This article will discuss everything you need to know about gaming addiction. We will cover the signs and symptoms of gaming addiction and treatment options and get help.

Why Has Gaming Addiction Been Classified As A Disorder by WHO?

According to recent data, around 150 million Americans play video games. A significant number is believed to be addicted to gaming and have lost control over their ability to stop playing video games even when they want to or know that it’s causing them to harm in some way or the other.

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced gaming disorder as a mental health condition. This decision was based on evidence that suggests people who suffer from this addiction cannot control their urge to play video games and keep playing even when it starts hampering their personal or professional life in one way or another.

So, what is gaming addiction? How does it differ from regular video game playing? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Gaming Addiction?

Gaming addiction is defined as excessive or compulsive use of video games that can lead to negative consequences in personal, social, and professional life. 

  • They spend more time playing video games than they can afford to. People who are addicted to gaming often experience the following symptoms:
  • They prioritize video games over other activities, including work and personal commitments.
  • They feel restless and irritable when they can’t play video games.
  • They keep playing video games even when it starts interfering with their personal or professional life. They play video games even when they know that it’s causing them to harm in one way or another.

How Does It Differ From Regular Video Game Playing?

There is a big difference between regular video game playing and gaming addiction. People addicted to gaming tend to exhibit the symptoms listed above, suggesting that they cannot control their urge to play video games. On the other hand, people who play video games regularly can stop playing without any problems if they want to.

Stages Of Gaming Disorder

Gaming disorder can be classified in various stages based on the intensity of symptoms.

Initial exposure

This stage occurs when you first start playing video games. The hype is true, and the excitement of experiencing new worlds is too tempting to ignore.

Binge gaming

At this stage, your desire for more time in the virtual world grows beyond normal levels. You develop compulsive thoughts about spending as much time as possible on a computer or console game. It can lead to skipping meals, sleep, work, and other activities.

Escaping reality

In this stage, gaming becomes your sole focus in life as you try to escape the problems or unhappiness you’re experiencing in the real world. You may withdraw from friends and family, leading to isolation. The line between reality and virtual worlds begins to blur.


You’ve reached the point of no return, as you now experience withdrawal symptoms like irritability and anxiety if you’re not playing a game. Your obsession with gaming has become so severe that it’s taking over your life and causing problems at work, school, or in relationships. You may try to quit but fail to do so.

Cause, Risk Factor, And Treatment Options

Knowing what causes a particular addiction may help you avoid it or prevent the addiction from getting worse. For example, suppose you know that certain medications can cause addiction and are prescribed by your doctor for a medical condition. In that case, you may want to look into alternative treatments that don’t involve taking those drugs.

One of the biggest causes of gaming addiction is boredom. When you’re bored, your mind wanders and starts thinking about things that aren’t important to you at the moment. It can lead to a variety of different behaviors, including:

  • Playing video games longer than average,
  • Spending more money on them (even if it means buying new ones),
  • Or skip out on important activities (like school, work, or social events) in favor of playing video games.

There are also a few risk factors that can make someone more likely to develop an addiction to gaming. These include:

  • Having a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression,
  • Experiencing stress or trauma in their lives,
  • Being exposed to violence at home or in other areas where children are present (such as school shootings); or
  • Having poor self-esteem.

When someone is addicted to gaming, they often need treatment options to help them overcome the problem. These include:

  • Counseling 

Counselors can help addicted gamers understand why they’re addicted to gaming and how it’s affecting their life and give them strategies for overcoming the addiction.

  • Therapy 

Gamers can also participate in therapy which can involve playing games unrelated to video games. It can help them learn to socialize and have fun without relying on gaming as an outlet for stress or boredom.

These treatments can be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video chat with a counselor specializing in treating gaming addiction. The therapy may last anywhere from one session up to several months, depending on the severity of the addiction and how much time it takes for you to overcome it.

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How It Affects Your Brain

When you’re gaming, your brain is releasing dopamine. This hormone is responsible for motivation and pleasure, and it’s what causes people to feel good when they do rewarding things, like playing video games.

But over time, your brain can start to rely on the dopamine release from gaming. So if you suddenly stop gaming, your brain may not produce as much dopamine. It can lead to withdrawal symptoms like cravings, irritability, and mood swings.

It is what’s known as addiction. And it can be just as strong as any other addiction out there. Some people have even died from Gaming Addiction.

Symptoms: Physical and Emotional Signs

You may be addicted to video games if you feel like your life is out of control and that gaming has taken over. You have a hard time doing things that don’t involve playing video games, even though you want to stop.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Your eyesight starts getting worse from staring at the screen for too long
  • You have trouble sleeping because you’re gaming until the early hours of the morning
  • You begin to gain weight from sitting in one spot for too long and not getting enough exercise
  • You get a headache or feel nauseous after playing video games for a while

Emotional Symptoms:

  • You feel irritable and moody when you’re not gaming
  • You feel like video games control your life and that they are more important than anything else in your life
  • You don’t want to do other things anymore

The Takeaway

Health care professionals consider gaming disorder a mental health condition when your relationship with video games leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational, or occupational functioning for at least 12 months. If you suspect you have a problem with video game addiction, talk to your doctor or make an appointment at a mental health clinic.

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