Computers, the internet, and gaming are some of the best examples of the technological advancements made in the past few years. While for the vast majority of us, these advancements have done nothing but supply us with hobbies, tools for work, or sources of information, for other it can have a somewhat darker role. So, what is gaming addiction?
A perfect example of this is gaming addiction. While it can be hard for those without addiction tendencies to empathize, let me paint you a rather dark portrait. In 2007, there was a recorded death due to video game addiction. The man in question had spent the last 72 hours playing video games in an online cafe, finally dying of exhaustion on the fourth day. Addiction is caused when the brain becomes compulsive over actions or substances that trigger a rewarding response in the brain. While there is nothing inherently addictive about video games, it is a common activity that triggers reward centers almost constantly, making it an easy rabbit hole to lose yourself in.
Gaming addiction, like most addictions, causes a shift in priorities. Responsibilities, relationships, and hobbies that were once important to you, tend to fall to the wayside only to be replaced by the addiction. This kind of centralized focus is what becomes most prominent when users become addicted to gaming. While most cases won't be as extreme as the case from 2007 I mentioned, gaming addicts may lose sleep, obsess over, and rarely part from their games, computers, and consoles.
Symptoms of game addiction can range in variety, but include things like: inability to reduce or stop play games, cravings when not playing, neglecting prior obligations and responsibilities for gaming, and mood swings or irrational anger when not playing.
Video game addiction is entirely mental. There may be physical consequences and side effects, but at it's core gaming addiction is caused by a mental obsession or illness. Because of this, treatment for video game addiction focuses heavily on psychological treatment, social factors, brain development, and positive coping mechanisms to prevent further usage. Activities like one-on-one and group therapy can be the difference needed to reshape an addict's way of thought, putting them on a better path. In addition, gaming addiction commonly appears in people with other mental disorders, for instance: social anxiety and depression are fairly common as co-occurring illnesses for gaming addiction.
While it may be hard for those who do not have experience with gaming addiction to understand, it is still a very real and serious threat to the lives of those who live with it. It's important that anyone struggling with gaming addiction get the help they need before creating irreversible consequences to their own mind and body.