Did you know there are people who spend so much time playing video games that they need video game addiction treatment? You most likely know someone who spends a little bit too much time in front of a computer or with a controller in their hands. But there are some people who spend entire days plugged into these online worlds.
Video games provide a fun way to spend some of your free time. Many games nowadays allow you to play with friends, either in person on your couch or online over an internet connection. Most everyone who plays keeps it in check with the average gamer playing about six hours per week. The few that devote tens of thousands of hours to their digital realm have psychologists reeling.
What is video game addiction and what brought on the need for video game addiction treatment? How often are these people playing games and how does it impact their lives? Continue reading to learn more about how the role of video games has evolved in the lives of people around the world.
How Video Games Have Evolved
Most early video games were simple. Early versions of computers couldn’t handle heavy loads and graphics capabilities were limited. This led to the first few decades of video games remaining mostly confined and always with some type of end in sight. Whether it was Pong, Super Mario, or Donkey Kong, there was an obvious ending. The need for video game addiction treatment was far from anyone’s mind.
World of Warcraft was one of the first types of games that dropped players into an open-ended world. People created an “avatar,” or an in-game character that they could customize to their heart’s desire. They chose how their character looked, what they wore, what they did, and where they went.
People could interact with others online no matter where they lived. You could play with people across the country or in entirely different countries without ever meeting IRL (gamer speak for “in real life”). As people discovered the ability to recreate themselves online, they poured more and more hours into the game.
Taking a Look at Video Game Addiction
Blizzard, the creators of World of Warcraft, first released the online version of their game in 2004. There was still no thought of video game addiction treatment in these early days. The need for it became apparent, though, as stories of people who poured hours into the game made the news.
These individuals weren’t playing for an hour here and there. Instead, some of them played for at least eight hours a day. They ate meals at the computer (or didn’t eat at all), withdrew from friends and family, and hardly left the house. In 2009, BBC News reported on a man who collapsed in a computer cafe after playing the game Starcraft for 50 hours straight.
When people think of addiction, they often think of people drinking underneath bridges or doing drugs in the park. They think of homelessness, joblessness, people who drank and used their friends and families away. Not everyone thinks of computer games.
But with the place we’ve arrived at today, video game addiction and the need for video game addiction treatment is a reality. One doctor estimated that up to 40 percent of people who played World of Warcraft in 2006 were addicted to the game.
More About Video Game Addiction
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlines the criteria for all kinds of mental disorders. Drug addiction and alcoholism are included but video game addiction hasn’t made its way in entirely.
The DSM-5 currently calls it “internet gaming disorder” and placed it in the section, “Conditions For Further Study.” This means video game addiction isn’t an official diagnosis but the American Psychological Association wants to continue researching its impact on the lives of Americans.
There are nine criteria for internet gaming disorder, or those who may need video game addiction treatment. In order to potentially receive a future diagnosis, someone must meet five of the criteria within one year:
- Thinking about video games on an almost constant basis.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t playing video games.
- Developing a tolerance, or needing to play games for longer periods
of time to feel good.
- Trying to stop playing games but finding themselves unable to quit.
- Losing interest in activities or hobbies they once found pleasure in.
- Continuing to play games no matter the impact it has on their lives
(dropping out of school, losing a job, losing touch with friends or family).
- Lying to friends or family about how often they play games.
- Using video games to relieve depression or anxiety, or to feel better in general.
- Risking life opportunities or interpersonal relationships as a result of playing video games.
Video Game Addiction Treatment
Some people who qualify for an internet gaming disorder diagnosis need video game addiction treatment. They can’t pull themselves from their online world in order to be present in their real life. When they attend treatment, they learn to log off of the game and reintegrate into the world. Through the help of psychotherapy and mingling with peers, they find their way back.