What We Often Fail To Understand About Video Game Addiction

It's about being in control and having your priorities straight.

Story Highlights

  • Video game addiction & Internet Gaming Disorder are documented in medical literature. 
  • Continous dopamine hits adversely impact the reward system leading to increased consumption.
  • Improving awareness of these issues & exercising control can lead to an improved gaming experience.

If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’ve been gaming for quite some time now. Maybe a few decades, or years, or perhaps you’re someone new to the medium (which is great by the way). Since you know this piece is about video game addiction, I pose a question to you.

Have you ever felt that you’re unable to put the controller down?

Regardless of your answer, there’s an entire world behind video game addiction. That’s what I’ll discuss in this write-up.

The Psychology Behind Video Game Addiction

Dependency on any medium or substance happens due to its overuse. Without going all scientific, our system grows fond of the thing being consumed and thus we are driven to seek more of it. In my previous article about gamer rage, I briefly touched upon this concept; I’ll get into it a bit more later on as well.

Is playing video games for 7+ hours a day an addiction?
byu/AgreeableAd8687 inpcgaming

Coming back to video game addiction, substance abuse is something that stems from the larger issues a person goes through. For example, even the most food-obsessed folks would generally be more aware of their state & not place themselves in danger. 

However, when under stress or going through difficult times, people often tend to binge and force-feed themselves. Taking a look at nicotine, the main reason for its addiction can be chalked up to peer pressure, habit by choice, environment, or stress.

Addictions are developed not because the substance or medium was used once or twice but because it was over-relied upon by an individual who came under too much pressure. This is also corroborated by several studies done on the subject, including this one which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

YouTube video

Dr, Bernard, known on YouTube as Chubbyemu, made a video on one extreme case of Internet Gaming Disorder quoted in literature. As he aptly mentions, IGD doesn’t describe individuals who think about games a little during class or want to have some fun with friends after school. It also doesn’t cover adults who hold game nights on the weekends.

This condition is indicative of underlying mental issues that are exacerbated due to external stimuli and manifests through video game addiction. Most parents are underinformed about the medium and fear that their child will go off the path if they play 5 hours of Fortnite after school on a Friday.

That said, most sensible people can distinguish between video game addiction, a hobby, and obsessive behavior resulting in self-harm.

And that brings us to the element which fuels this drive of playing video games.

Gratification & The Impact Of Dopamine

In my previous piece, I talked about how dopamine is linked to gamer aggression. As humans, we are naturally inclined to get aggravated when restricted from obtaining that which we crave. Here’s the other angle that contributes to video game addiction.

When you acquire what you crave, you feel fulfilled and continue to seek that fulfillment.

That’s how dopamine works. What makes it problematic is the factor of continuous acquisition that creates a reliance on said resource. In the case of video games, constantly glued to a screen is one of the various forms in which this reliance manifests.

The level up screens are a source of dopamine hits that contribute to video game addiction.
The level-up screens are a source of dopamine hits that contribute to video game addiction.

It’s a grey area, in my opinion. Video game addiction is something that can go a lot of ways, all of which can be either beneficial, neutral, or detrimental to the individual. The way I see it, people need to be more in tune with themselves and control their emotions and impulses. That’s the mark of real strength and mental fortitude.

Continuously and easily getting that dopamine hit corrupts your mind, preventing you from striving towards greater things in life. It’s a philosophy you’ll often hear self-development YouTubers throw around under the wrong pretenses.

That said, it’s actually solid advice.

You’re not being told to move away from gaming at all. It’s all about being the one who has all the control instead of letting impulses and emotions hold sway over yourself. 

Video Game Addiction Isn’t Different, You’ll Get Withdrawal Symptoms

Yes, you read that right. I’m sure you know that any substance or medium that an individual grows overly reliant on will be difficult to move away from. In cases involving nicotine and caffeine, abruptly stopping consumption can lead to headaches and other issues. This results in the person relapsing.

Similarly, the effective technique to combat video game addiction is to gradually reduce playtime. This allows you to gain more control and autonomy, increasing your decisiveness and giving you room to combat the urge to fall back into old habits.

Over 424 days and counting. While I'm not addicted to FF14 anymore, these numbers hold a memory of my darker days.
Over 424 days and counting. While I’m not addicted to FF14 anymore, these numbers hold a memory of my darker days.

Given how much time I’ve spent playing Final Fantasy 14, this is closely tied to personal experiences. For the better part of the last 6 years, the game has been my major focus. While I wasn’t as far gone as the case in Chubbyemu’s video, I still had a rather unhealthy routine in need of a fix.

Did I fix it? Yes.

Take The Reigns

See, the only time you’ll ever face such issues in life is when you’re not the one in control of your emotions and thoughts. A lot of things in this world can heavily influence those elements which often leads to bad decisions. 

Video game addiction is as real as any other form of dependency; so are its consequences. The sooner we accept and take steps to combat them, the better our experiences will be.

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YouTubeAmerican Journal of PsychiatryReddit

Saad is a News writer at eXputer. With vast journalistic experience working for a multitude of websites, Saad currently reports to eXputer with the latest news and dishes out his opinions on a frequent basis. He's currently studying Game and Interactive Media Design, which has further increased his knowledge about the ins and outs of the industry.

Experience: 1+ Year || Covers News Stories on eXputer || Education: Bachelors in Media Science.

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