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How to Overcome Video Game Addiction

Updated on October 05, 2014
davidlivermore profile image

David is an avid video gamer across multiple platforms such as PC, consoles, handheld devices, and mobile phones.

You only start out with one life, don't squander it on video games.
You only start out with one life, don't squander it on video games. | Source

What is Video Game Addiction?

Video game addiction is simply being addicted to video games. Unfortunately this addiction is growing at a fast pace. While it may not affect the body directly like alcohol or cigarettes would, it can still devastate lives when people take things way too far when it comes to video games.

Truth be told, I once was addicted to video games. I let it ruin a lot of things in my life. I still play video games as well, but I learned how to enjoy them in moderation, and to use video games to make something productive in my life.

This article will cover the following:

  • Symptoms of video game addiction.

  • How to overcome video game addiction.

  • The tragedy of Shawn Woolley.

  • My addiction to video games.

Video game addiction can start at an early age.
Video game addiction can start at an early age. | Source

How Often do You Play Video Games?

How many hours per week do you play video games?

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Symptoms of Video Game Addiction

First, you have to identify if you or someone you know is addicted to video games. There are a few signs that will clue you in if someone has a problem:

  • Spends a lot of free time playing video games. It may have just started to be a one hour a day thing, but then you notice the person spending every free moment playing a video game or doing something video game related.
  • Neglects school or work. This one should be obvious. If the person calls in sick or stays home from school to play a game, then there is a problem. Having a vacation day from work isn't a bad thing, but skipping either work or school can be a bad thing if it's for a video game. I know, I skipped college for video games.
  • Ignores family. Choosing a video game over family is always bad, and a sure sign of addiction. If kids are neglected, or a spouse feels alone, then there is a problem. Video games are never more important than family.
  • Lets their personal appearance go. Since the person is always playing video games, personal hygiene won't seem as important. The more someone lets themselves go, the bigger the problem is.
  • Health issues start to come up. If the person stays awake all night playing video games, has mood swings, etc., that could be a sign of video game addiction. A person can even die if they focus on playing video games without a break.
  • Spends money on video games prior to the necessities. Obviously video games are the priority for this person, and not the things they need to survive. If the rent goes unpaid just so the person can buy the latest games, then there is a problem with addiction.

What Video Game Addiction Affects

What Video Game Addiction Affects
Feeling neglected and ignored. Feels like video games are more of a priority.
Feels ignored, friends eventually will go away after awhile.
Work performance suffers, could eventually lose job.
Physical Health
Gain weight, seizures, fatigue, etc.
Mental Health
Anger issues, depression, withdrawal.
Loss of income could result in not being able to buy food, losing house, etc.
How someone addicted to video games can affect their life around them.
Someone addicted to video games ignores the world around them.
Someone addicted to video games ignores the world around them. | Source

Are You Addicted to Video Games?

Do you think you are addicted to video games?

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If you don't think you are addicted to video games, take this quiz.

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How to Overcome Video Game Addiction

Fixing an addiction to video games, like all other addictions, can be a difficult process. However, in time someone can learn to enjoy video games without being addicted to them. The following tips can be used to curb a video game addiction.

  • Don't stop cold turkey. Video games, unlike some other addictions, can fill in a lot of time. Stopping altogether may leave a huge void in your life, and cause you to relapse and sink more time into video games. The goal is to curtail how much time you spend playing video games.
  • Play in moderation. Set a specific number of hours (or minutes) to play video games per day. With today's technology, it's easy to set up a time. Once that timer goes off, you stop playing.
  • Eliminate how many systems you own. Between console, handheld and other gaming systems, there just isn't enough time in the day to play them all. People try. Instead, only have one system you play games on. This will allow you to be focused on one system only, without feeling the need to play games on each and every system.
  • Avoid MMO's. If you have a severe addiction to games, MMO's are the worst games you can play. MMO's are huge time sinks. People have been known to die while playing a MMO, since they play them for days at a time without a break.
  • Take a break every hour. For each hour of gameplay, stand up, walk around, etc. for a few minutes. It's unhealthy to sit in front of a PC for hours at a time without a break.
  • Limit how much you spend on video games. If you set aside $60 a month on video games, then for the most part you are just buying 1-2 games per month. If you limit your spending, you limit your addiction.
  • Choose games with physical activity. Games are becoming more movement based. Some require you to stand and move your body. While they are still video games, they can encourage exercise.
  • Include your family. There are a lot of video games that families can play together. Not only will it allow you to play a video game, it will include your family as well. Just remember to teach your children moderation, and if you have to, stop their game time as well.
  • Seek help. There could be underlining issues why someone is addicted to video games. Seeking mental help isn't a bad thing.
  • Find other hobbies. Start a collection of some sort, do some gardening, etc. Something else to keep your hands and mind busy. Some of these you can also include your friends and family.
  • Review your life. Look at your life as it is now. What could be better? Maybe there is a job you missed out on due to your video game addiction. Maybe you missed a child's event at school. Take those wrongs and try to make them right.

Those addicted to video games can develop anger issues.
Those addicted to video games can develop anger issues. | Source

Know Someone Addicted to Video Games?

Do you know someone addicted to video games?

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Tragedy of Shawn Woolley

In 2001, Shawn Woolley killed himself. His mother discovered him, and on his computer screen Everquest, a popular MMO at the time, was running. The mother blamed the game for her son's suicide, while the CEO of Sony disagreed.

There was no proof that Everquest resulted in his suicide. His mother stated he was addicted to the game and his suicide could be due to a possible love interest in the game. However there is no concrete proof that was the cause.

Video game addiction may have played a big part. Shawn also had a lot of medical issues, which could have been worsened by the fact he was on his computer all of the time.

Who is to blame? That's hard to say. His mother tried to get her son help, and it was not Sony's responsibility to ensure people seek help. But this is proof that video game addiction is a real issue.

Shawn's mother founded On-Line Gamers Anonymous to help others addicted to video games in 2002.

It's up to the addicted person's friends and family to confront the person about their addiction. They have to take responsibility as much as the addicted person. They can't just say, "It's only a video game." They have to step in and help.

Video game addiction should be taken as seriously as any other addiction.
Video game addiction should be taken as seriously as any other addiction. | Source

My Addiction to Video Games

I had been playing video games for as long as I could remember. It caused major issues throughout high school, but I was able to graduate.

When I had my first job, around the age of 18, video games were becoming even more popular. The Playstation had just been released, PC games were becoming all the rage, and I had the money to buy a lot of them.

That same year I also started college. I would have had time to work on my studies, but I spent a lot of my time playing video games. My addiction was so bad that I would skip classes to go to work, just so I would have more money to buy video games.

Eventually, I dropped out of college and worked full time. My addiction, along with other factors, made me lose almost everything. I lost friends and family, and had no direction in my life.

In time I took ownership of my life, and put myself on a better path. I still play video games to do this day, and I enjoy them a lot. But if I still had an addiction issue, would I be writing this article? No. I learned to play video games in moderation. You can too.

World of Warcraft Addiction


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    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      I'm aging myself here, but my very first computer was a Comodore 64. I remember getting Frogger for it from a boy down the street and I stayed up all night until I beat the game! My grandmother bought an Atari system for me. She became addicted to PacMan. She got a score of 100,000 and then the shut the system off to show off her score. When she turned the system back on, it had erased her score! LOL It's amazing how video games have become so realistic now.

      For a while I went through a phase. Friday nights was Halo night at my friend's house. We all got together and played until the next morning. There were just as many ladies playing as there were men. The last game I played was my son's Mario game. I had to beat the entire game and wouldn't stop playing until I did. So I don't play any more. Because you are right, it is addicting!

    • davidlivermore profile image

      David Livermore 3 years ago from Bakersfield, California, United States

      Quite true. I know I've stayed up all night playing games once, but only usually when I'm off work.

    • video gamer 2000 profile image

      video gamer 2000 3 years ago

      I don't play video games that much these days. When I was a kid I all ever wanted to do was play all the new video games on my super nintendo. Now as an adult I do still play but not as much and i would not say I was addicted to playing games, i sometimes rather watch movies.

    • profile image

      CraftyPepe 21 months ago

      Well,i was addicted to Clash of clans for a while. Id pay little or no attention to family and my friends would be on the game also. Then summer came and i just stopped. Every once in a while i will casually open the app and close it back down,realizing there are better things to do than burning away time and family because of one game.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 19 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      "Seek help. There could be underlining issues why someone is addicted to video games. Seeking mental help isn't a bad thing."

      This is the answer. Find out the underlying cause. Set new ideals and goals to improve your life. Video games are a huge waste of time and money.

    • profile image

      AshD 16 months ago

      Lol..this article is helpful for me.. I still addicted to age of enpires 2 mmo game...its very hard to overcome the thought of game or relative thoughts...i have gone cold turkey but it increases my addiction... Gaming wasting my time..cauae of late night playing i cant get enough increases fatigueness and mood swinging...

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