Video Game Addiction: what is it, signs, risks

Video Game Addiction: what is it, signs, risks

Whether played on a mobile device, gaming console, or computer, video games have become a daily ritual for many people. And while playing these games has been proven to have psychological and (sometimes) intellectual benefits, compulsive use of video games can lead to what is known as video game addiction, also known as gaming disorder.

This article will teach you how to cope with the new trends in the gaming industry, including online games, MMO, and DLCs, and better understand the risks associated with an uncontrolled video game habit.

What are the risks associated with video gaming?

Video game addiction (VGA), also categorized as an internet gaming disorder, can significantly impair a person's quality of life and make it difficult to function in the family and community. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the danger of a gaming disorder. Online games are more addictive than offline video games as they generally have no "true" ending (the games are regularly updated with new content). Furthermore, they often include various features designed to keep the users connected to the virtual world.

What are the symptoms of video game addiction?

Video game addiction happens more frequently than people would imagine and should be treated with the same consideration as any other addiction (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or gambling).

Video game addiction can significantly impact personality, health, and social relationships. Prolonged and uncontrolled use of video games may cause gamers to experience severe psychological and physical effects, including irritability, insomnia, sadness, anxiety, aggressiveness, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, and discomfort.

Most video game addicts are unable to control their urge for games and will spend most of their free time playing games - often at the expense of other activities (sports, social relations, work…). As a result, video game addicts are prone to experience major health issues resulting from their unhealthy lifestyle, lack of sleep, and poor eating habits.

If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, then it is time to question yourself about your gaming habits and try to adopt a healthier lifestyle. If you cannot break from your addiction, it may be time to consult an addiction specialist or psychiatrist.

While this topic is rarely discussed, the financial risks related to video games are real. Video games can be a budget-buster — you should think twice before purchasing new games. An indie game can cost around $10-30, while a Triple-A game can cost between $40-60.

In addition to the base cost, DLCs, expansion packs, monthly subscriptions for online gaming, and in-game content also add to the cost of a video game. In addition, thanks to the resurgence of Pay-To-Win games, users are keener to spend money to progress more rapidly in the games.

How to keep your gaming habits healthy?

Here are a couple of simple tips and good advice to prevent or cure video game addiction:

  • Reduce time spent playing games: Try to spend more time with your friends and family, find a new hobby, or participate in outdoor activities.
  • Don’t play games for consecutive hours: You should take a 15-minute break from your screen every hour. In doing so, you'll also help prolong your console's life (reduce overheating).
  • Make a budget and stick to it: You can keep your expenses to a minimum by opting for pre-owned games (often cheaper), or trading your old games with your friends. Don't spend all your money on games.
  • Follow the PEGI recommendations: Some games can affect the thinking and behavior of younger gamers. To prevent this from happening, one should adhere to the PEGI ratings, which indicate the suitability of games for specific audiences.
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