Gaming Addiction Counseling

Gaming Addiction

Internet gaming and game systems have become a favorite past time for many people. However, some individuals find themselves involved in a compulsive relationship with the activity.  Compulsive gamers are so obsessed with the game/s they trade face to face interaction and recreation for the thrill of the game.  Their gaming begins to interfere with regular life activities: school, work, sleep, family interaction, dating or marital relationship.  They begin neglecting important responsibilities.  They become so involved in the game and seeking game achievements or status that a broader life perspective is lost. The World Health Organization estimates that 10 to 15% of gamers exhibit addictive signs and symptoms.

Behaviors of internet gaming addiction may include but are not limited to:

  •   Excessive computer, video, console or on-line gaming
  •   Majority of friends are gamers
  •   Feels preoccupied with the game
  •   Activities outside the game are still focused on the game or with other gamers
  •   Adamantly denies addiction
  •   Spends free time surfing internet for game-related websites
  •   Choosing gaming over other important priorities
  •   Exhibiting extreme highs when playing
  •   Withdrawal from real life and other hobbies
  •   Eating at the computer and skipping meals to game
  •    Sleep pattern disruption
  •    Lies about the time spent playing the game
  •    Getting up in the middle of the night to play
  •    Spending money on the purchase of on-line game items
  •    Experiences physical effects from gaming
  •    Exhibits negative emotional states when not gaming (i.e. irritability, depression, anxiety)
  •    Dry eyes
  •   Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  •   Neglecting personal hygiene

Withdrawal Symptoms

As with other addictions, withdrawal symptoms often occur. Among the most common are:

  •   Anger and verbal abuse, sometimes extreme
  •   A feeling of emptiness
  •   Depression
  •   Relief
  •   A disruption in sleep pattern
  •   Fantasies and dreams about the game
  •   The urge to go back to gaming and try to control the time played
  •   Thinking about the game for extended periods of time
  •   Uncontrollable feelings or rampant mood swings
  •   Excessive crying
  •   Anxiety
  •   Fear
  •   Irritability or restlessness
  •   Sadness
  •   Loneliness
  •   Boredom/inability to find an activity of interest
  •   Lack of motivation/direction
  •   Excessive amounts of time spent sleeping
  •   Nausea
  •   Difficulty facing obligations, procrastination
  •   Feeling as though a return to gaming will make you feel better
  •   Physical illness – colds, allergies
  •   Restless, unfulfilling, taunting dreams

Video Game Ratings

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board, a voluntary industry organization, has developed a ratings system that can help parents decide which games their children should be playing based on age. On the front of a game’s box is the simple version of the rating, while the back contains a more extended version. For example, a game rated “E” (for everyone) has content that is considered suitable for people ages 6 and older. On the back of the box, the rating may include additional information such as “may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence.” The complete list of ratings is as follows:

EC (Early Childhood):

content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.

E (Everyone): content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

EVERYONE 10+: content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy, or mild violence, mild language, and/or minimal suggestive themes.

T (Teen): content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

M (Mature): content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content, and/or strong language.

AO (Adults Only): content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.

Mediawise.org, a group that researches the effects of all types of media on families, publishes a yearly report card on video games.

Visit On-line Gamers Anonymous at:   www.olganon.org

Visit video game addiction at: www.video-game-addiction.org