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What is Video Game Addiction?

What is Video Game Addiction?

What is Video Game Addiction?

Video game addiction (internet gaming disorder) is when people have severely reduced control over their gaming habits. As a result, it can harm their daily lives and function, like personal, social, educational, and any other responsibilities. However, millions of people play video games, and only a small percentage will develop video game addiction.

Even though gaming has existed for nearly 50 years, studies about its adverse impacts are still early. Different groups have come to varying conclusions about whether problem playing should be considered an addiction.

In addition, The World Health Organization added “gaming disorder” to the 2018 version of their medical reference book, the International Classification of Diseases. However, the American Psychiatry Association’s manual, the DSM-5, has not, with only gambling being listed as a potential addiction. 

This article will discuss video game addiction, what it is, and resources for getting help. 

What is video game addiction?

As previously mentioned, video game addiction (internet gaming disorder) is a condition where a person has severely reduced control over their gaming habits. These gaming habits can negatively affect their relationships, school, work, and self-care. 

This condition can involve gaming on the Internet or any electronic device; however, most people with significant gaming issues play online. Whether internet and video gaming addiction should be considered an addiction or mental health condition is a hot topic of debate among researchers. Many consider video game addiction a behavioral addiction like gambling disorder, in which the rush of winning is one of the primary reasons for playing.

Others believe this comparison to gambling is flawed because no financial or material losses are involved when playing video games. Also, winning a video game requires sharp cognitive skills, while winning at gambling mainly relies on chance. 

With all that in mind, any all-consuming activity that negatively affects your daily functioning can lead to extreme mental and social distress and adverse physical health impacts. It’s essential to seek professional medical care if you think your video game habits are cause for concern. 

What are some signs of video game addiction?

Here are some signs to look for in yourself or a loved one. There must be five or more of these signs in a 1-year timeline to indicate a problem, according to criteria compared in the DSM-5 for gambling, as a cross-reference:

  • Thinking about gaming all the time or much of the time 
  • Feeling bad when you can’t play a video game
  • Needing to spend much more time playing video games to feel good
  • Having issues with being able to quit or even playing less
  • Not wanting to do other activities that you once enjoyed 
  • Having issues at work, school, or home due to your gaming
  • Playing video games despite any problems in life 
  • Lying to people closest to you about how much you are playing 
  • Using gaming to reduce bad moods and/or feelings

Of course, only some people who play video games have their mental health impacted. According to some experts, labeling people who are merely enthusiastic about gaming can be harmful. One thing many experts agree on is that the criteria for addiction to video games are small. More specifically, it’s approximately between 1% and 9% of all gamers, both adults and kids. 

Internet gaming disorder can be higher in those who experience severe symptoms of depression and poor sleep quality. It is also more common in people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Treatment For Video Game Addiction

The primary treatment option for video game addiction is talk therapy (psychotherapy). Psychotherapy is a variety of treatment techniques that can assist in you identifying and changing distressing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Research shows that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective method for treating internet gaming disorder. CBT is a common type of therapy that can be used with other interventions like mindfulness to be successful. Goals in therapy can involve:

  • A reduction in video game usage.
  • Enhancing social relationships.
  • Lowering levels of depression or anxiety.

Many people with internet gaming disorder likely experience other co-occurring mental health issues, so any other mental health condition would be helpful to discuss with a mental health professional. As a result, a person can address all their mental health requirements. 

Individuals can also benefit from learning other coping skills, like support groups, to be more connected to others. Support groups are an excellent option because they are generally free, and in face-to-face settings, whether in person or online. That way, a person can increase their level of social connectedness. 

If you are looking for help for yourself or someone you know, you can ask your doctor for a referral. In addition, you can use a web search to find a provider specializing in treating people with gaming or technology addiction. At LGBTQ and ALL, we make this process simple by listing mental health professionals in our directory. To find a gaming addiction specialist, browse through our many listings in your area to find the care you require.   


Video game addiction can negatively impact many areas of a person’s life. We hope that our resources and solutions can be of help to your unique situation. If you are a mental health provider specializing in video game addiction, be sure to list your services in our directory so that you can connect with patients looking for this type of treatment. 


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