February 20, 2024

Are Video Games Really Addictive? And If So, What Can We Do About It?

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Games have often been the target of many forms of criticism but one of the most persistent has been the concern over their addictive nature. This issue has compounded over recent years, with the

medium becoming more and more prevalent—especially since the introduction of smartphones.

The question of whether video games are truly addictive is a complex one. But understanding the nature of potential addiction is crucial for developing strategies to address it; both on the developer and player level.

So let’s dive into the debate to explore whether video games are really addictive? And if they are, what we can do about it.

The Nature of Video Game Addiction

The DSM and ICD—two compendiums of classification for mental health conditions—both mention forms of video game addiction in their pages. This is testament to the prevalence and seriousness surrounding video game addiction; both exclaiming that yes, video game addiction is a serious condition that we need to take seriously.

Like other forms of addiction—such as gambling, smoking and substance addiction—gaming addiction involves complex brain chemistry and behavioural responses.

While not everyone who plays games will develop addiction—and not every urge to play games is a form of addiction—it is important to recognise that some players will develop videogame addiction.

That said, it’s worth noting that developers often use techniques to ‘encourage’ players to keep playing; some of which may cause susceptible individuals to become addicted to them.

Understanding the Factors Contributing to Video Game Addiction

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the formation of game addiction. These include:

  1. Predatory design:

As already mentioned, many developers build features into their games to keep players playing and

coming back. These range from loot boxes to progression to in-game challenges to daily rewards.

While these have the goal of providing a fun, rewarding experience to players, sometimes these

mechanics can go overboard and cause players to form addictive behaviours.

  1. Stress relief and escapism:

While games are fun and can offer a good amount of respite from daily stresses, using games as a key way to cope with stress, anxiety, depression and more can lead to excessive and compulsive forms of engagement.

  1. Individual susceptibility:

While there are reasons why games can become addictive, it’s worth remembering that certain individuals may be more susceptible to addiction due to a variety of reasons: from personality to genetics to existing mental health issues.

Identifying Signs of Video Game Addiction

Recognizing the signs of video game addiction is essential for early intervention. Common signs include:

  • Loss of Control: Difficulty in controlling the amount of time spent playing video games.
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Neglecting personal, social, educational, or occupational responsibilities in favour of gaming.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Irritability, restlessness, or agitation when unable to play games.
  • Tolerance: Needing to play more to achieve the same level of excitement or satisfaction.
  • Interference with Real Life Relationships: Negatively impacting relationships with family,

friends, or partners due to excessive gaming.

  • Lack of Interest in Other Activities: Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities apart from

gaming.

What Can Be Done to Address Video Game Addiction?

Approaching video game addiction is complex; requiring a supportive, multifaceted approach. It’s the responsibility of the industry, educators, gamers and family members to create and execute such an approach. Some good starting points are:

  1. Education and awareness

The first step to dealing with any issue is learning about it. Thus, educational resources and awareness is fundamental. This ranges from public awareness campaigns to the risks of gaming addiction to educational programs about how to recognise, identify and assist those with gaming addictions.

  1. Support and guidance

Once aware, building strong ways for people to gain the guidance and support that they need is a must. This includes everyone involved—from those with the condition to those around them. In order to create such a supportive environment it’s necessary for us to keep open discussions about videogame addiction, and to keep that dialogue consistent.

While support from outside is important, we also need to be aware of ourselves. If possible, providing self-assessments and, if possible, scheduling breaks and disconnection sessions in order to reduce the chance of developing games addictions.

  1. Clinical support

Beyond local support, if the issue becomes a serious hinderance it’s important to be aware that there are lots of places where you can seek clinical support. Thanks to the inclusion of games addiction in the DSM and ICD, video game addiction has become much more widely appreciated by psychologists and other professionals in recent years, making resources and support more widely available.

  1. Responsible design

It’s also important for videogame developers to take proactive steps to help combat the formation of addiction. This will include limiting, reducing or entirely removing addictive mechanics and predatory mechanics from existing and future games. Regulators may play a clear role in ensuring that this happens.

Don’t worry—you can enjoy games. Only few gamers will ever experience true video game addiction; meaning you can probably continue playing your favourite title. If that’s CS2, you can get high level accounts simply buy CS2 accounts!

Ultimately, video game addiction is a small part of gaming culture—but one that should be taken seriously. By increasing our awareness of and support towards video game addiction we can help to ensure that games remain fun, for all.

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