A gaming addiction is a behavioural addiction, similar in nature to a gambling addiction, but relates to gaming activities such as online gaming. Specifically, a gaming addiction can be defined as an excessive or compulsive use of computer games or video games to an extent where the behaviour interferes with a person’s everyday life.

As such, this form of addiction is also known as video game addiction and relates heavily to other behavioural addictions, such as Internet addiction and computer addiction.

Gaming Addiction Treatment at The Rutland Centre

While video game addiction is a relatively new phenomenon in recent years due to the surge in popularity of online gaming, it is nothing new to the Rutland Centre.

We at the Rutland Centre have been treating behavioural addictions such as these for decades. Our highly trained staff of counselors have dealt with and helped in many cases where multiple forms of addictions, often both behavioural and substance-based, are present in the one individual.

We have various treatments available for behavioural addictions, such as being addicted to gaming – these treatments range from personal counseling sessions to full residential care. With 40 years of experience in addiction and high abstinence rates, we’re confident we can help those that need it most. For more information, please see our treatment services page.

What Makes Video Games Addictive?

Understanding the Addiction

Many video games are often designed to be addictive (Young, 2009). Game designers know if they can get people to play their games over a longer period of time, they can often make more money from them by selling them additional content (such as new levels to beat, characters to play with etc.).

Consequently, games are often designed to be as challenging as possible to encourage gamers to feel a sense of accomplishment throughout their playtime. This is somewhat similar to gambling, where the house always ensures gamblers get small ‘wins’ to encourage future behaviour. There are numerous ‘hooks’ within games to encourage addictive behaviour:

  • High Scores – One of the most recognisable hooks, attempting to beat a high score can keep a player playing for hours on end.

  • Beating the Game – Typically the ultimate goal of single-player games.

  • Immersion & Role-Playing – Many games allow players to create their own character, often in a fantasy world that can be heavily influenced by their actions within it. As such, players can get highly attached to these characters and world they live in. Sadly, becoming over-attached to these fantasy worlds can lead to negligence towards real-world responsibilities.

  • Discovery – Again, many games have vast worlds to explore and gamers are encouraged to ‘discover’ as much of these worlds as possible.

  • Relationships – This mainly pertains to the realm of ‘online gaming’, where players ‘group-up’ with other players in order to achieve a common goal. The most famous example would be a game like World of Warcraft where this behaviour is heavily encouraged. Players can often feel like they are most accepted in these online communities, which can help draw them back again and again.

Gaming Addiction Symptoms

It is important to note that not all gamers are video game addicts. Many people who play video games have the capabilities to game responsibly – to balance the enjoyment of playing video games with everyday responsibilities. However, there are signs and symptoms of being addicted to video games – these can be seen at both a physical and emotional level.

Physical Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

  • Fatigue due to lack of sleep and prolonged periods of gaming.

  • Migraines due to intense concentration or eyestrain.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the overuse of a controller or computer mouse.

  • Poor personal hygiene.

Emotional Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

  • Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play.

  • Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session.

  • Lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing.

  • Isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming.

  • Dual Diagnosis: Depression and Video Game Addiction

Two studies concerning the potential links between video game addiction and depression showed an alarming correlation between the two. If both conditions are present, it’s important to seek help at a treatment facility like the Rutland Centre that can address both issues. If depression in not treated in conjunction with the addiction, the addiction is more likely to recur. As such, those addicted to video games may be so blind to their damaging nature that they cannot see that video games could be the root of their depression. Instead, they may see video games as a potential ‘escape’ from depression, hence becoming a vicious cycle.

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Call us any time for advice and support or to make an appointment. We’re ready when you are!

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Getting Help for Video Game Addiction – Contact Information

We at the Rutland Centre have dealt with behavioural addictions such as video game addiction, for years - we can help. If you have any concerns about your own gaming habits or those of a loved one, please pick up the phone to contact us. We are firmly of the opinion that, in Ireland in particular, people wait far too long to make the call to seek addiction treatment. The first step in overcoming dependency is being able to recognise that it exists. Rehabilitation and change are much more attainable if treatment is sought at an early stage.

Allow us to help you today - call (01) 494 6358. You may also want to visit our treatment services page for a list of the various treatments we have available.

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