Video Gaming Addiction
While there are many people who like to make jokes about the stereotype of the basement-dweller subsisting on snack food while raiding, the fact is that video gaming addiction is a serious problem. Though the American Psychiatric Association has yet to classify this type of addiction as a disorder, studies suggest that video gaming addiction is a type of impulse control disorder like any other. For many gamers, video games are just a hobby, but for others, they can become a matter of life or death.
Part of the problem of this addiction lies in the way it connects people. For those suffering from an addiction, in-game interactions and relationships become more important and realistic than real-life ones. This makes it difficult for the gamer to disconnect from the game for prolonged periods of time in much the same way it would be difficult for someone to block out all real world interaction. Part of this comes down to a need these gamers feel to belong where their social identities are constructed through the game's parameters. In many instances, it may be an escapist fantasy life where the person is the star.
Like most addictions, video gaming addiction has symptoms that may be obvious to outside observers but unknown to the person involved. Initial symptoms may center around prolonged periods of gaming where basic needs like sleep, hygiene and sustenance are ignored. The person may shut out any outside forces like friends or family. If the person is forced away from the game for any reason, a period of withdrawal sets in with increased irritability and anxiety. Even if the person genuinely wants to quit playing, a relapse may be imminent without assistance.
Video gaming addiction may seem relatively harmless, but there have been many instances where this addiction has had severe consequences. In South Korea, a couple was jailed for negligent homicide after their baby died from starvation while the couple raised a virtual child. In a somewhat similar turn of events, a couple in China sold all three of their children to fund their gaming addictions. Meanwhile in Taiwan, an 18-year-old died of cardiac arrest after playing a game for 40 consecutive hours.
While video gaming addiction can lead to serious consequences, there is assistance out there. A therapist specializing in addiction therapy or an addiction center can help on the path to recovery. One problem addicts frequently face is an underdeveloped ability to interact with others in person, which is why this addiction often afflicts children and teens with anxiety or difficulty in social situations. Part of the road to recovery is learning how to interact with people face-to-face and understand real-world consequences versus the fantasy presented in a video game. During treatment, it's important that the person receives support in a nurturing environment as these people are often already shy or uncertain, and placing them in a stressful environment can do far more harm than good. Fortunately, with a little time and the desire to rid themselves of addiction, these people can go on to live perfectly fulfilling lives.