The word “addiction” might be a humorous term for some of us. It is even used in romantic occasions as a pick-up line, “I’m so addicted to you,” and to make humor of something funny, “Milk Teas are so addicting.”
In reality, addiction is a complex brain disease that manifests a compulsive action, substance, or abuse which results in a harmful consequence.
But, have you ever heard of “Video Game Addiction” or “Gaming Addiction?” and no, it’s not the type of playing games inside a casino kind of addiction which is called “Gambling Addiction.” It’s different and it matters, more evenly so today.
Video Game Addiction – Definitive Definition
Video game addiction is categorized as an impulse control disorder. It describes video game overuse, pathological or compulsive/excessive use of playing video games regardless of platform and medium of the gaming system. Most importantly, it does not involve any form of an intoxicating substance such as alcohol or drug.
In July 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) has included a section in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) about “Gaming Disorder.” The aforementioned section focuses on disorders caused by the addictive nature of excessive playing of video games regardless of system or platform.
The section also states that merely playing video games for long periods of time doesn’t necessarily qualify a person as having an addictive disorder – the behavior has to significantly impair a person’s personal, family, social, or educational life.
Undeniably, video game addiction, as a disorder, has been around since the emerging of various video game consoles, whereas the Magnavox Odyssey as the first gaming console ever made in 1972. However, it took the World Health Organization about 47 years before they recognize gaming addiction as a mental health disorder.
We believe that what made the World Health Organization consider this addiction as a disorder is due to the emerging of technology, more specifically, the demand and popularity of mobile gaming in the past recent years and up to this day.
As you can see from the chart provided by Newzoo, Mobile Gaming dominates the market share with over 50% globally. Whereas the rest is shared by PC gaming and console gaming.
Mobile Gaming – The Substantial Contributor
In the past recent years, one platform that really emerged is mobile technology. As the years go by, manufacturers fill up the market with smart technology that’s more advanced and better than the previous years. More specifically, smart devices such as smartphones and tablets.
We’ve now come to the point that our smartphones and tablets can work, function, and provide convenience far more than what we can get from our computers. This is also the sole reason why the market for smartphones and tablets became so big in a matter of years.
Far more importantly, such devices are now more capable of handling and performing well with video games.
But how did mobile gaming contributed to video game addiction? The answer is quite simple but let’s first look at the problem. Video games as is are a form of entertainment that lets the players indulge themselves into a fantasy world where it’s fun, free, and it’s a kind of system that cannot be replicated or be done in real life.
In most cases, video games are used as a substance that provides players a form of escape from real life problem momentarily. From that alone, we can already pinpoint what causes video game addiction. Fortunately, the World Health Organization doesn’t define that as the cause of the disorder.
What the organization qualifies as addiction is characterized:
- impaired control over gaming,
- increasing priority is given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities,
- continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences,
- and significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
So, how does mobile gaming contributes to the problem? The answer is availability, portability, hardware performance, and all the free games that you can get from having a smartphone alone. That equates to free entertainment at the palm of your hands.
Free to Play (F2P) Video Games – The Consequential Structure
One of the things that invite people to play games on the mobile platform is the wide variety of free to play games. As of this writing, the most popular free to play video games on mobile are:
- Player’s Uknownbattlegroun (PUBG)
- Arena of Valor (AOV)
- Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (ML)
- Clash of Clans
- and many more…
These are free games that are well developed to provide the best gaming experience to any players and this results in a satisfactory experience that then results in a desire to want more or play more. In which, technically, is not a problem or an issue to look at.
This then becomes a cycle and a habit, and it’s similar to other addictions in terms of what it does to your brain. The structure is simple and gives the player a dopamine rush – a sense of feeling good or satisfied.
The Psychology of Game Addiction
Some people debate whether you can actually get addicted to gaming in the first place. According to studies in 2013 that was done in Missouri,
Gamers who are really into getting to the next level or collecting all of the in-game items seem to have unhealthier video-game use. When people talk about games being ‘so addictive,’ usually they’re referring to games like Farmville or Diablo that give players rewards, such as better equipment or stronger characters, as they play. People who are especially motivated by these rewards can find it hard to stop playing. – Joe Hilgard, Department of Psychological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science.
Experts and professionals across the world recognize the addiction to be a worldwide concern.
The Author – Suffered and Got Cured
Yours truly has also been a victim of video game addiction. I’ve suffered from it for years. It also took me years before I realized that I am suffering from this disorder.
Before, I find great joy, happiness, entertainment, and the feel of self-achievement for playing video games. Getting stronger, becoming skillful and good are some of the feats that can get anyone addicted to video games. It is also something that I believed I can’t do in real life no matter how hard I try to be good at something.
I even reached a point where I started to stop hanging out or spending time with my friends and family for more hours of gaming. I even quit my day job and applied for part-time work at home job to meet the minimum daily living expenses to simply have more time for gaming.
Fortunately, though, I was lucky enough that it did not post any other health risk for me. I was also fortunate to get my senses right, that my lifestyle and what I was doing are not healthy for me as a human anymore. And what really hit me in the head really hard to make me realize what was wrong is my wife.
My wife and I were boyfriend and girlfriend for 7 years before we got married. I was satisfied with how things are between us back then until she gave me something to think about. She wanted a better life for us while I was satisfied with the things are and to be honest with you, that means living at the bare minimum of a decent life and to have more hours of playing video games.
After that, I started to think, I said to myself that I could lose someone who loves me and whom I really love. I could lose someone who was always there for me in my hardest times. Someone who never left me despite having a poor lifestyle and no sense of plans in the future. That’s where it hit me. I don’t want to lose someone who loved me and only wanted the best for both of us.
So I started to change my mindset. I started losing time for playing games and devoting myself to livelihood productivity that’s beneficial for both of us. It was hard from the start as all I could think about was the games I was playing. I gradually got used to it and got out of my video game addiction.
On the bright side though, I still do play games from time to time whenever I get the free time to do so.
Video Game Addiction – The Truth & Reality
One thing is for certain after what we have discussed above. Video game addiction is real, it is a mental disorder, and it is a real problem. On the bright side, video game addiction can be cured, it can be stopped, and it can be prevented. The best way to prevent it is to observe your loved one, family, friends that spend so many hours playing video games. If these people prioritize playing video games over other things such as socializing, work and other sorts of responsibility that has been neglected over gaming, then it’s a great sign of video game addiction.
How to Stop/Cure Video Game Addiction?
There are a couple of ways to stop/cure video game addiction and some of those are:
- Get help from a professional psychiatrist – A professional help is always a good option.
- Have a different mindset – Set time for yourself to simply think. Think of your future and your dreams and ask yourself, “Will playing games help me achieve my life goals and dreams?”
- Prioritize responsibilities over gaming – Think of a way to reward yourself for prioritizing what really matters in your life.
- Seek others who also suffer from the same issue – Having people to talk to with similar experiences can greatly help to turn a new a leaf. The StopGaming subreddit has a lot of people that have similar experiences that might be able to help you.
The JoyofAndroid Tips to Stop Video Gaming Addiction
We are well aware of this disorder and we devised a simple way to cure or stop video game addiction especially if you’re the one who’s suffering from it:
- Cutting down should be the first step. Set an alarm if you don’t trust yourself, and stick to the time you said you would stop.
- Measure the time you spend playing games for a month with a productivity app and multiply it by 12. Is that really how long you want to spend gaming each year?
- It’s drastic, but selling everything could be useful if you know you can’t trust yourself.
- The Google Play store can be configured to limit your spending or even stop all IAP’s from your Google account.
- If you have nothing to do, you’ll probably end up gaming. Planning activities throughout the day could be enough to help see you through the week.
Ultimately, mobile gaming addiction is a true and real disorder. It’s a problem and a mental disease that the World Health Organization recognizes. There are many factors that can contribute to this problem but playing for a long period of time is not one of them. Basically, playing video game qualifies as an addiction if you start to cut ties between your families, responsibilities, and that results in any form of harmful consequences.
On the bright side, playing for long hours doesn’t count as long as what must be done and the basic function of being a human is not neglected.
Most of us can strike a balance and still have fun, but it must be tough for the people affected by a compulsion to keep spending or playing when the fun stops.
Has mobile gaming been positive or negative in your experience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!