How Can You Beat A Video Game Addiction?

Were you one of many who accidentally spent your entire holidays playing video games? Do you have hundreds of hours sunk into Fallout 4? Do you routinely stay up until the early hours of the morning because you just find it too hard to put down the controller? You may be addicted to video games.

Gaming image via Shutterstock

Video game addiction is an increasingly well-documented problem, often compared to compulsive gambling in its nature. Detox centers are popping up around the world to help the most dependent video game addicts -- who are largely young men and boys. A man in Russia even sued Bethesda late last year, claiming that the addictive nature of Fallout 4 caused him to lose both his wife and his job.

The Center for On-Line Addiction lists the following warning signs for video game addiction, among others.

• Playing for increasing amounts of time • Thinking about gaming during other activities • Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression • Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming • Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming

Treatment for video game addiction tends to mirror that of more well-known cases of addiction, although with game-ready technology as prevalent as it is today, it can be far more difficult to go cold-turkey. This means that gaming addicts need to learn to use computers responsibly -- which includes not booting up any games, at least until you break your dependence on them.

For those looking merely to cut down on their gaming hours instead of cutting it out completely, there are a few simple steps you can take. If a particular game is proving problematic for you, try deleting it off your computer or device. If it's a console game, lend the disk to a friend. You can always re-install it, but this means that next time you go to open the game file, you'll have to go through the long process of downloading before you get your instant gratification.

When setting limits on yourself for the night, make them time rather than goal-based. So instead of saying you'll turn the game off once you complete this next quest, promise to turn the game off after half an hour. You never know how long a quest could stretch out to be, after all, and if you're getting drawn into the story you could very well end up playing for another few hours. If you need help with this, try automating your computer to shut down or log you out at a certain time in the evening.

If you still want to experience the fun of gaming but don't want to let it consume your life, try making gaming into a social activity. Only break your games out when you've got friends over to play with you -- that way you can enjoy it together, and you're limited in your play time by another person's schedule.

For more on video game addiction, watch this video in which Addictions Specialist Paul Hokemeyer outlines what it is, and what you can do to combat it.

If you feel like you have a serious problem that is negatively impacting your life, the best thing to do is to seek professional advice.

Originally posted on Lifehacker.


    No need, "my demons and I are closer than ever!"

    Lots of drugs... 9 out 10 psychs recommend medication straight after your first consultation

      I'll take gaming to escape my real world problems instead.

        Me too more often than not Gaming has helped me in dark times and it will continue to do so.

    Thanks to ___(insert games industry insult here)___ I don't have to worry about being addicted!

    I feel as though my heart isn't into this.

    Good article, Hayley! Changing to a time based restriction made such a change for me. No more "WE PLAY UNTIL WE WIN A GAME OF LOL" means I actually get to sleep each night.

      But redemption games!

      Now if only I could follow my own advice...

        Advice is best served, not best taken! Keep going your own way :P

    i think about games all the time, then again when i was kid and before i had a console or computer i though about lego, G.I.J.O.E. and Transformers all the time.
    I also have 250hrs in fallout 4, but then im self employed and really only have to "work" when tenants dont pay rent or break the rules of my caravan park.

    I definately play games to escape reality just like i do with movies and would do if i read anything other penthouse and hustler.

    I dont lie to friends or family about gaming though i wish did because talking to non gamers about games is just like to being a gear head and talking to non gear heads especaily when non gamers ask "so what tpye of games do you play? cause i play candy crush and farmvile"

      this guy^ gets it. why is gaming automatically a bad thing. People wouldnt bat an eyelid if you watched television.

      one more thing : clearly the author hasnt tried high level taming or breeding in Ark Survival Evolved. We're working on a Quetz hatching which is gonna take a global team 16 hours.

        I dont think it is automatically a bad thing, but when you have a family and work involved and you choose to game over these things then it is a problem. It is all about time management.

      I definitely don't think a lot of gaming is a problem, but some people will definitely recognise that they have a problem. To me, the most problematic warning sign would be the "Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming"
      At that point it's less escapism and more dependence.

        eh i just love taking the piss out of warning signs because they often so vague and many many people often overreact when they are generalised.
        but you are right with the last point. I game roughly 16hrs a day which many people would call an addiction yet i still go and cook dinner, go and do 1hr of aqua at the pool 3 days a week with an extra hour on a wednesday afternoon and im also on call with my local RFS. I dont have a Social Life at all but then in my town the only night life is going to the pub or RSL and hammered and i dont drink so why go out in the first place

        Feel like that's kind of a cop out as well as confirmation bias. Someone can't defend themselves lest it be an assumption of guilt and ignorance? There's got to be more to it than that, there has to be some way you can allow others to challenge your perspective the way you challenge theirs, surely.

    I can stop any time I want to!


      I just don't wanna!

    I see nothing wrong in using gaming to escape from inner turmoil. That's a valid use IMO and totally healthy. One could also use music or films.

      Video games are also a much more socially acceptable method of venting than physical violence also.

    I have the opposite problem. In my downtime I find it hard to motivate myself to fire up any games - Whether it's something I have been meaning to complete or replay an old fav.
    It's far too easy to just read about games on Kotaku instead :-)

      Same. I used to play a lot of games but recently I don't feel like playing anything at all. Finally yesterday I fired up Tales of Zestiria on my PS4 and played for 4 hours, the longest gaming session I had for months.

    The whole psychological addiction industry is such an unmitigated pile of garbage.

    Being passionate about something is not an addiction. Stay up late reading books? Addict! Binge watch House of Cards? Addict! Go hiking or skydiving every weekend? Addict! Work day and night to prove a scientific hypothesis? Addict!

    Calling any of those things addictions is no more or less ludicrous than calling avid gamers addicted. Not to mention what an insult it is to actual addicts. Anyone who has ever watched a close friend struggle with heroin or methamphetamie withdrawals, let alone experienced those withdrawals themselves, will tell you what real addiction means and feels like.

    Comparing that to some guy who has nothing better going on in his life than a dope Warcraft character, is insulting and absolves people of the personal responsibility required to face up to the shitty decisions they have made and take steps to improve their lives.

      10 years ago i found myself in an odd (and rather shitty) situation. I had acquired multiple drug habits (yay working in the entertainment industry) - cranked up on whatever working up to sixteen hours a day and then bombing myself out on opiates n weed in my downtime. Add to this a huge gaming habit (ive had games in my life since 3, im now 39) and a divorce... Perfect shitstorm. I lived like this for about 5 years then finally got my shit together. The weird thing was that after cleaning up my act sadly i couldnt play games either. They felt linked to me since i was only playing while wasted. So i spent a year avoiding work in my regular industry, gaming, old friends with bad habits and even had to move away from the city i was living in as i knew too many dealers. It was the hardest year of my life. These days im drug free, pretty healthy and have a moderate, controlled love of games.
      TLDR - too much anything is bad, too much everything is worse.

        Wow, congratulations on getting out. Five years of that lifestyle is a deep hole to crawl out of.

    I had a life long addiction to video games. I'd play from the minute I got home from work till 2am each weekday. Weekends as much as I could fit in.

    It was a problem. My ex left me because of it. When I sat down and thought about it, gaming too much made me depressed.

    But I always used excuses. "I could have worse addictions." , "But gaming has lots of positive aspects." , "Well watching TV is acceptable." Etc.

    I was making excuses. Excuses not to do anything with my life. It was an escape and an addiction like any other that was detrimental even if I didn't realise it.

    So I quit, cold turkey. It was the only way. And I feel much better for it. I've picked up other hobbies. It wasn't the end of the world.

    I'm positive there's also a direct correlation between depression and (over) gaming.

    Everything is alright in moderation. Nobody is telling you to drop your hobby. And it's a great hobby at that.

    But if you're doing it hours on end, every day, and that's all you do, it's an addiction and a problem. Just like anything else.

      There's a world of difference between gaming because you're depressed and games causing depression.

      Better advice - if you think you're doing any activity too much and get depressed, speak to a counsellor (and note that psychiatrists are not always the best counsellors!).

      The fact that you can write "I quit cold turkey...and I feel much better for it" without skipping a beat, goes to show just what a pile of bs "game addiction" is.

      You were depressed my friend. You found more fulfilling activities to occupy your time and felt better for it. Congratulations, that is no small accomplishment, but what you described was not clinical addiction.

        I had the sweats for weeks man! The desire to go back and play was constant. I had to sell all my stuff to avoid caving in.

        A month into it I held a controller again, and just the feeling of having it in my hands. Jesus it felt good.

    I wonder how many will use this article constructively versus how many will use the information to generalise and judge others based on one dubious criteria?

      Hence why they're tips for someone who has identified a problem with their own gaming habits rather than "how to call out a friend/family member/significant other who you think has a video game addiction" :)

    I'm addicted to the idea of gaming more than I am to gaming itself. I'm constantly reading, thinking, talking about it, but I don't actually spend very much time playing games. Mostly due to job, young family, etc.

    You can replace 'gaming' with any activity in that list of warning signs, eg;

    • Pooping for increasing amounts of time
    • Thinking about pooping during other activities
    • Pooping to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
    • Lying to friends and family to conceal pooping
    • Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on pooping

    OMG how many people are addicted to taking a dump?

      - Pooping for increasing amounts of time
      Sure I've had diarrhea before

      - Thinking about pooping during other activities
      Especially when I've been gaming long enough

      - Pooping to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
      Because of a food that makes me miserable afterwards? Sure

      - Lying to friends and family to conceal pooping
      I've never lied about it, or never not-announced that I've successfully pooped

      - Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on pooping
      I've never tried to stop mid-poop before... I should try that...

      • Pooping to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
      • Lying to friends and family to conceal pooping

      I feel so guilty now...

    Edit: Daruburu Postu

    Last edited 08/01/16 10:29 pm

    I don't game enough my girlfriend tells me i should play more, how ironic

    ^ I was going to say get a girlfriend/boyfriend...

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