Since the boom of video games in the early 80s and the rise in online gaming in the late 2000s, video games have become a great pastime for children and adults worldwide. An estimated 3 billion people play video games, with over 500 million playing online. But despite the numerous advantages like relaxation, relationship building, and cash income that come with gaming, things can still go far and wrong.
A shocking 2021 study revealed that roughly 4% of online gamers in the world were addicted to video games. That means over 50 million people suffer from video game addiction. The rise in game addiction cases led the World Health Organization (WHO) to classify Game Addiction as an official mental health disorder. But even with the severe side effects that can accompany this particular addiction, many people still fail to recognize it.
Here, we’ll explore eight signs of online gaming addiction and how you can quickly notice them. So if you feel unsure if you’ve been playing roulette online or Call of Duty too much, these signs will help you know if you’re addicted.
Everyone loves playing video games; however, it can get extreme sometimes. Here are eight signs that you’re addicted.
It’s not uncommon to spend long hours playing a particular game. It could be to complete a very difficult mission you’ve been stuck on for a while or when you finally have time to play online with your friends. However, when you start to spend long hours day after day, week after week, you might be suffering from an addiction.
Generally, addicted gamers spend 8-10 hours on games daily and over 40 hours per week. If you’re also finding it challenging to reduce playing time even after multiple attempts, it’s a sign of addiction.
Due to the long gaming hours, game addicts hardly find any time to sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to exhaustion and several other adverse effects like depression, hallucination, and an increased risk of hypertension.
In addition to being tired all the time, you might notice that you’re getting moodier and easily annoyed. You can also no longer complete basic tasks like before and find yourself lacking in several important areas of your life.
Were you formerly a book enthusiast? Did you like taking walks? Swimming? Going to the cinema? And suddenly realized that you no longer have interest in all these, except your games? You might be addicted. It’s common for gaming addicts to lose interest in their former hobbies due to the games using all their available time.
Even when you engage in other activities, you feel restless, anxious, and eager to return to your screen. If you show hostility or strong emotions when your game is taken away, that’s a sign of withdrawal and is common in people suffering from addiction. If you only find peace and calm when playing games and manage to play over long hours, you’re addicted.
When you’re suffering from a video game addiction, you’ll notice that you no longer have time for other things in your life. You’ll feel less urge to go to work, and even when you do, your output will be very poor, either due to sleep deprivation, a lack of focus, or both.
If you’re still a student, you might notice that you no longer want to read your books or complete assignments. It’s all about the next mission, and you’re ready to risk your entire life if it means you enjoy more gaming time. This also applies to basic house chores and simple tasks like shopping and doing the laundry.
When you’re addicted to online gaming, you’ll find it difficult to leave your screen, even if it’s to eat. If you notice that you can’t leave your game until you’re extremely hungry or thirsty, you might have an addiction.
Also, a University of Würzburg study by Markus Appel and Caroline Marker showed a slight correlation between obesity and video game addiction, especially in adults. Roughly 38,000 gamers participated in the research, with 380 admitting that their weight gain was due to long gaming hours.
This is mostly due to the less time spent exercising and the fact that most gamers prefer unhealthy junk food. Sleep deprivation was also said to have been a factor, but there are not enough studies to back this claim.
So, if you notice an increase in body weight or mass over time and that you’ve adopted unhealthy eating habits because of your game, it’s a sign of addiction.
Microtransactions and in-game purchases started in 2006, and despite being met with heavy criticisms, they soared high and have become an integral part of online gaming today. Statista reports that the world gaming population spent at least $54 billion in in-game purchases in 2022.
That doesn’t mean everyone who spends money buying an in-game item is an addict. However, when a considerable sum or all of your earnings start to go into these games, you might have a problem.
Addicts don’t like to spend on anything aside from their game. It’s always about the next computer upgrade, a new game skin, or a rare treasure chest. They no longer prioritize other aspects like feeding well or paying bills. These are significant signs of game addiction.
Sometimes, you might have a feeling that you’re addicted, but instead of accepting this and start making steps toward a solution, you’d rather make excuses. You might start to tell yourself that you’re doing nothing wrong and billions of people are doing the same.
This is a sign of denial as, over time, you might start to notice that you need to play longer hours to get the same level of happiness from the game. Some might even argue that it’s more reason they’re spending their time gaming instead of doing drugs or alcohol. However, no form of addiction is better than the other. Addiction is very dangerous and can cause severe physical and mental damage.
Online gaming addiction takes up almost all of an addict’s free time. They start to isolate themselves from their friends and family. Sometimes, they spend several days without leaving home or interacting with real people.
If you notice that you’re actively and purposely trying to avoid real interactions and rather spend your entire time gaming, you may be addicted. Also, if most of your friends are online and you’re in far more online communities than social communities, there could be a problem. This is not to say you can’t be a part of online gaming communities; however, there must be some sort of balance between your online and real-life relationships.
Online video gaming addiction is a serious mental health disorder that could cause severe damage if not taken care of. Sadly, due to the commonness of online gaming, many people don’t even know when they are addicted. Here, we shared eight gaming addiction signs and how you can spot them. If you spot these signs, you should seek professional help from a doctor or therapist.