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How to Overcome Video Game Addiction

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

You only have one life, don't squander it on video games.

You only have one life, don't squander it on video games.

What Is Video Game Addiction?

A video game addiction is simply an addiction to playing video games. Unfortunately, this addiction is spreading at an extremely fast pace. While it may not affect the body directly as alcohol or cigarettes would, it can still devastate lives when people take their gaming habits too far.

Truth be told, I was once addicted to video games. I let it ruin many aspects of my life. I still play video games, but I learned how to enjoy them in moderation.

Lastly, I want to point out I am not a trained mental health professional. The advice I am providing is from my own personal experience.

How to Overcome Video Game Addiction

This article will cover the following:

  • Symptoms
  • Treatment
  • The Tragedy of Shawn Woolley
  • My Addiction
Video game addiction can start at an early age.

Video game addiction can start at an early age.

Symptoms

First, you have to identify if you or someone you know is addicted to video games. Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • 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 or doing something 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 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, 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, games are the priority for this person when it should 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.

Effects of Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction can effect family, friends, and more.

Who/WhatHow

Family

Feels neglected and ignored. Feels like video games are more of a priority.

Friends

Feels ignored, friends eventually will go away after awhile.

Work

Work performance suffers, could eventually lose job.

Physical Health

Weight gain, seizures, fatigue, etc.

Mental Health

Anger issues, depression, withdrawal.

Finances

Loss of income could result in not being able to buy food, losing house, etc.

Someone addicted to video games ignores the world around them.

Someone addicted to video games ignores the world around them.

Do you think that you may be addicted to video games?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Have you stayed up all night playing video games?
    • Yes.
    • No.
  2. Have you called in sick to work/school to play a video game?
    • Yes.
    • No.
  3. Do you get angry when something bad happens in a video game, to the point where you yell or throw things?
    • Yes.
    • No.
  4. Have you lost anything (job, friends, family) because of a video game?
    • Yes.
    • No.
  5. Do you spend more money on video games than food, rent, etc.?
    • Yes.
    • No.

Answer Key

  1. No.
  2. No.
  3. No.
  4. No.
  5. No.

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: You are addicted to video games. Seek help immediately.

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If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: You are showing signs of being addicted to video games. You should start to cut back to get it in check.

If you got 4 correct answers: You show some signs of being addicted to video games, but you keep it in check.

If you got 5 correct answers: You aren't addicted to video games.

Treatment

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

  • Don't stop cold turkey. Video games, unlike other addictions, takes up a lot of time. Stopping altogether may leave a huge void in your life and cause you to relapse. The goal is to curtail how much time you spend playing.
  • Play in moderation. Set a specific number of hours (or minutes) to play per day. Set a countdown on your phone. Once that timer goes off, 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 stay focused, without feeling the need to play games on each and every system.
  • Avoid MMOs. If you have a severe addiction to games, MMO's are the worst games you can play. MMO's are huge time vortexes. People have been known to die while playing an MMO, as they play them for days on end without a break.
  • Take a break every hour. For each hour of play, stand up, walk around, etc. for a few minutes. It's unhealthy to sit in front of a screen for hours at a time without a break.
  • Limit how much money you spend on video games. If you set aside $60 a month for games, then, for the most part, you are just buying one to two 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 games that families can play together. Not only will it allow you to continue playing, but it will include your family in your hobby. Just remember to teach your children moderation, and if you have to, limit their game time as well. This may also increase addiction, so it may not be the right way to go.
  • Seek help. There could be an underlying issue that causes such an addiction. Seeking a mental health professional is not a bad thing and is nothing to be ashamed of. You can talk to your primary care physician about it as well.
  • Determine if there are other issues at play. An addiction to video games may be caused by something else in your life. The step above, talking to a mental health professional, can help you identify and possibly address that.
  • 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.
  • Reevaluate your life. Look at your life as it is now. What could be better? Maybe there is a job you didn't get due to your video game addiction. Maybe you missed a child's event at school. Take those wrongs and try to make them right.

The Tragedy of Shawn Woolley

In 2001, Shawn Woolley killed himself. The online game, Everquest, was running at the time of his death. It was his mother that discovered him dead. His 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 it was the cause.

Video game addiction may have played a big part. Shawn also had a lot of medical issues (mental health and physical), which could have been worsened by the fact he was on his computer all of the time. He also stopped working, stopped paying his bills, and stopping interacting with his family.

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.

In 2002, Shawn's mother founded On-Line Gamers Anonymous to help others with this addiction

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.

My Addiction

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 games My addiction was so bad that I would skip classes to go to work, just so I would have more money to buy games.

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

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

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: What made you realize that there was more in your life than video games?

Answer: There wasn't one event that made me realize that, however, it was around the time I failed out of college. I was more focused on video games than anything else. I would work just to pay for video games. Once I failed out of college and saw how it affected my future, I realized that videos games weren't everything.

Question: How can I overcome my addiction to battle royale games on my phone?

Answer: That's hard, since it's being blasted on every video game site, every game that can have one will have one, etc.

Following the tips in this article covers any type of game. Find support in your life, cut down the gaming time, find some professional help that may assist with your addiction.

If it's on your phone - uninstall the app and remove your credit card. Make it hard for you to reinstall it (like require a password each time you want to install an app). Put up those walls so you can back out of playing the game.

Question: How long does it take to forget about video games if one has a video game addiction?

Answer: You will probably never forget about video games. We are bombarded with gaming stuff on a daily basis. The only way to truly disconnect is to shut off all electronics, but that's near impossible as well.

Question: I don't believe video games to be more than mildly entertaining. Is there proof that real life can offer me meaning? Will life feel relevant?

Answer: That's up to you. Humans survived for many years without video games and I expect eventually we will have to give them up again. Real life can offer you more than video games ever will.

Question: I have 3 systems, 1 laptop, and a phone. Should I stop using one of my video game capable devices?

Answer: That's your choice. Are you addicted? Are you spending more time on them than other important things in your life? May ask someone close to you to see what they think.

Question: Does peer pressure contribute to gaming addiction? If so, how can I solve this? Moreover, what do you think schools and organisations can do to curb gaming addictions in teens?

Answer: Yes, peer pressure it a contribution. Getting your friends to join a game with you, for example. Solving it is difficult, and not to sound cliche, but just say no if they want to game. Unfortunately I don't think schools can do much. At the moment, in some countries, if a school takes away something from a student, it appears as oppression. So if phones are taken away because a student is playing Fortnite, it's oppression. Plus with lack of funding and low pay of teachers, I don't see them really putting the effort to stopping it unless their job is on the line.

Question: What can I do to improve in school and not focus on games all the time? I'm currently in high school.

Answer: That's a tough question to answer because for the most part, you are in control of that. I assume you live with your parents and they should be putting restrictions on your gaming. If they can't or that isn't possible, then it's up to you to step forward with that. Go to your parents and say you want help in curtailing your gaming. You may not want to stop, but you want to do it in moderation. Talking to a teacher or counselor at school is also recommended, but can't impact your home life as much. The best thing you can do is reach out to someone for assistance, as it may be difficult to do on your own.

Question: Could I overcome my video game addiction if I destroy my Xbox?

Answer: Destroying your Xbox (or any game system) is a bit extreme. You can do more with it by selling it for cash. Also, have you tried cutting back or setting a limit on yourself first? That can be easier than just cutting cold turkey. A small number of people can just stop with something and not pick it back up, but it may be hard to do that.

Instead, talk to your family, reach out to them and ask for help. Say you want to find other ways to spend your time instead of gaming. Explore other hobbies, take more classes in school, or find a good physical activity to do.

Question: Is it a good idea to only play on my Xbox on weekends?

Answer: That's relative. Does it interfere with other things? Then no. Does it stop you from seeing friends or being with family? No. Can you enjoy it and balance it with other things? Then maybe.

Question: Are video games bad in general?

Answer: I really don't know. They generate jobs, so that's good, but they have caused problems, which is bad. The same can be said about cars, alcohol, and TV.

Question: I like playing with my friends on Roblox at their place and talk to them face to face and all that jazz. Is wanting to play Roblox with my friends a very bad videogame addiction?

Answer: Is it cutting into time into other important things like, family, sleep, school, or work? Then maybe. If it isn't, then nah, it can be completely fine. A lot of friends play games together.

Question: How do I keep video games out of my mind during my summer (or days and days of spare time)?

Answer: There is no simple way to do that, except to occupy your time with other activities. Hang out with friends, sports, a job, etc.

Keep in mind you can still play games, in moderation.

Question: How do I notify my loved ones about my video game addiction?

Answer: Tell them, just open up and say you feel you are addicted to video games and may need some help. They will appreciate you did and will want to help you.

Question: I love my brother, but he's an addict. He's lost his girlfriend, can't keep a job, and spends all his money and time on the x-box. He's been kicked out of many homes and lives with my dad who's basically letting him live there rent free and doesn't care how he spends his time. I feel like everyone else has given up on him. And I don't want to. How can I help without sounding preachy? Because I need more than one person for an intervention, and I'm not sure anyone else is willing.

Answer: You really need to get your dad on board with this. Allowing your brother to live there rent free isn't the answer, it's enabling it and excusing it.

You may need to get preachy, but don't say things like, "You don't have a job, you don't have a life." Say things like, "I am concerned about you." or "I'm worried about how video games are affecting you". Use I statements, not you statements. Keep at it, don't hound him, but you may need to bring it up multiple times.

If he wants to game with you, don't do it. State you can't be around him when he is gaming.

Question: How can I find a hobby to take up free time when video games have made hobbies either boring or seem stupid?

Answer: Hobbies typically require trying something until you find you like it. I enjoy writing, for example, and use that hobby and involve video games, to sorta connect the two.

I also have a lot of collections, writing as I said, my cats, my car, etc. Try different things - you'll find something.

Question: What would you say is a good video game that is fun but not addicting?

Answer: I can't answer that. Any game can be addicting. Any game.

Question: I am addicted to World of Warcraft. How do I keep my addiction in check?

Answer: Uninstall the game, cancel your subscription, or ask Blizzard to ban your account. Friend and family support can help as well.

Question: I know that my best friend has a game addiction. I have told her before only she wouldn't admit it. How should I tell her without being rude?

Answer: Instead of telling her, let her know you are worried. Tell her things you have noticed that are worrying you. Give her examples.

Question: I play Fortnite for like six hours every day. Am I addicted, or no?

Answer: Does it interfere with your life? Does it interfere with school, family, or friends? If so, then you may be addicted.

Question: How do I stop playing Fortnite? I keep getting yelled at for it by my mom.

Answer: You need to tell her that you are having trouble quitting and you need her help to stop.

Question: Will I survive longer without video games?

Answer: If you plan video games 20 hours a day with little sleep and food, sure, you probably will. Exercise is better than video games, so in that case, you may.

Question: I want to stop playing video games right now, can I?

Answer: You can if you have the willpower to do so, but that's not always enough. You may need to reach out to friends or family for support.

Question: How do I get rid of my addiction of video games and play in moderation?

Answer: Follow the guidelines in this article, and really, reach out to family or friends who may be able to help you.

Question: I think I have a video game problem, but I'm not sure. What do I do?

Answer: Reach out to friends or family and see what they think. Ask them honestly if they think gaming has affected your life.

Question: My brother is twenty-eight years old, and he is playing DOTA 2 game from last six years, now he is addicted, how do I help him overcome this?

Answer: Have you tried talking to him about it? It may take many tries. State why you are worried, what changes you may have seen in him, etc.

Question: Why the value of traditional games as an alternative to virtual games?

Answer: Because they can have more of a human, in-person interaction. It's almost always a better alternative.

Not to say it's always better, addiction can be there, but I found it to be a better alternative.

Question: I am having trouble focusing on doing work. I have stopped playing games on my Xbox, but still think about playing games and consider everything in life boring, what should I do?

Answer: Keep at it. Find other things that interest you, different hobbies, things you haven't considered. Hang out with friends can be a great distraction. Keep in mind it can be difficult to quit, so you can moderate your game time too, if you feel you have the control to do so.

Question: Is playing video games for two hours a day bad? Should I limit to every other day?

Answer: That's up to you to decide. Is it interfering with other things in your life like school or family? If it is, then you need to limit it.

Question: Who can I see to stop an addiction?

Answer: Talking to your primary care doctor or a psychiatrist can help you with an addiction.

Approaching your family about it and asking them for assistance can be beneficial as well. If you don't feel comfortable with that, then a close friend or a school counselor.

The important thing is to reach out to someone close to you who will help you find the assistance you need.

Question: What would be a good time to set aside for video games?

Answer: That's for you to decide. How busy is your life? Do you have studies or a job to worry about?

Question: I have tried some of the ways and I succeeded for only a short period of time. How can I get more determination to overcome videogame addiction?

Answer: You need the support of others, like close friends or family, to help in reducing your game time. Also, if you are trying to stop all the way, that may not be best. It may be best to limit how much you game instead of stopping completely. Find other activities, hobbies, etc. Those can be a good way to balance your time as well.

Question: How do I stop playing and thinking about Fortnite?

Answer: Uninstall it and try to lean on friends and family for support. It's hard to do with a game as popular as Fortnite. The game is everywhere. So you really need to seek out people who can help you pull yourself away from the game.

Question: How do we stop playing videogames when I can't stop?

Answer: You need to reach out to friends or family to help you then if you can't stop on your own. Reaching out to someone else can be great for support and encouragement you need to stop or cut down.

Question: I've quit gaming cold-turkey for a year now and never felt the "urge" since. How risky is it to carefully try to play again?

Answer: It's different for each person. It can be risky, like any addiction. That's for you to tell. I recommend you find someone to help support you if you plan to play again to help you moderate your game time.

Question: How can I overcome my addiction to World of Warcraft?

Answer: Follow the guidelines in this article, but I recommend you reach out to a loved one to talk about it if you really want to stop. You can cancel your subscription as well. You can even ask Blizzard to ban your account.

Question: What do you do when not playing video games?

Answer: I work, I cook, I do errands, I do things with other people, etc. It's whatever I do to fill the time. I've written a ton on here, so that's a great hobby as well. It's whatever you do that you find interesting and worth doing outside of gaming.

Question: Would playing video games only during holidays be too strict?

Answer: That depends on you. Holidays don't happen that often, maybe finding a balanced schedule would be best.

Question: Because I watch videos a lot my dad does not talk to me normally. What do I do?

Answer: Can you talk to your mother about it? Or talk to him to see if you can work it out? Talking may help.

Question: How do you find a reason to do work? I use gaming as a reason to do work and its hard to focus without thinking about games. I want to practice more and play secretly cause my goal is pro gaming instead of a regular career.

Answer: Becoming a pro in gaming is like winning the lottery - many people try, but few succeed, and even fewer receive enough money to live on the rest of their life. It's not a good career path and I recommend you don't do it.

Question: How to get my parents to allow me to play video games again?

Answer: There are too many details missing from this. Why did they stop you? Was it for a good reason? Video games caused my grades to drop and my parents took the games away for months. They may have a legitimate reason. You need to take corrective action so you can get your games back.

Question: I play video games without my parents knowing. How do I overcome my addiction without having to tell them and getting in big trouble?

Answer: That's really hard. Having the support of family can be the best thing for overcoming something like this.

My advice? No matter how mad your parents are, tell them. Tell them you have something serious you want to talk about and you want help with it, then come clean. They could be mad, but it's because they care for you. I know how hard that can be, but in the end it will work out.

If you really don't feel comfortable with them, then talk to a teacher or someone at your school. State what your fear is, they may be able to help talk to your parents for you, or, help you directly.

Question: Do you think that uninstalling the game I am addicted to from my phone would be a good idea?

Answer: If you're addicted, but it's so easy to reinstall the game, that isn't the best deterrent.

Question: I'm addicted to an MMO and my friends are trying to convince me to relapse, what do I do?

Answer: Don't relapse. Instead, find other things to do with those friends or different friends to spend time with. Don't succumb to the peer pressure of going back into the game.

Question: Is playing videogames bad?

Answer: Is it a constructive use of time? No, of course not, but we all need relaxation. If that's how you relax, then I think that's fine, as long as it doesn't interfere in anything. I relax by going on trips, watching TV, reading, writing, etc. What is bad to you? Are you taking it so far that you think it's bad? Then you have your answer.

Question: How can I overcome a gaming addiction while being surrounded by gaming devices?

Answer: There is no easy response to this. Stopping cold turkey may not be the best approach, but limiting how much you play may help. Putting away those gadgets may help. I keep my gaming systems in a cabinet so they are a bit harder to get too and not always in front of me, for example. Plus enlisting the support of others may help.

Question: I got bored of video games. But I still can't stop playing them. I started to get bad at school and lost my focus. What should i do?

Answer: You really need to find other outlets. Sports, if possible, are a great way to find something else to focus on. Though hobbies, either through school clubs or on your own, is also good.

But if it's an issue, and one you are recognizing, you need to reach out to your family for help. Tell them you're worried and want some support to deal with this issue.

Question: League of Legends is my only one addiction and I can't stop with playing. I don't know what to do. What do you think?

Answer: Follow the advice of this article and reach out to your family if you feel you need to stop.

Question: I play PUGB for 2 hours a day. Am I addicted, and if yes, then how can I overcome my addiction?

Answer: Is it causes your grades at school to suffer? Or your work to suffer? Or relationships to suffer? Then it could be a factor, but it's hard to say just through one question. If you feel other aspects of your life are suffering, then it's something to look into. My recommendation is you reach out to family and discuss a way to balance your gaming and the other priorities in your life.

Question: What else can we do besides playing video games?

Answer: Whatever else you find interesting. Sports, reading, writing, hanging out with friends, etc., there are a lot of things you can do besides video games. Figure out what things you like to do outside of video games and put your heart into them.

Question: What are the process stages when getting treated for video game addiction?

Answer: I don't really know how to answer this, except with the Stages of Change model. You basically have pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance/relapse, and termination. I recommend you Google it.

© 2013 David Livermore

Comments

David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on June 03, 2020:

First off, this could very well be affecting your physical health. It may be contributing to your existing issues. You also don't have to go to your parents. If you are in university, there are those there that you can reach out to so you can talk about it, possibly receive some medical treatment if it's necessary.

I understand how your culture may be, and it's understandable that you are afraid of what your parents may think. In the end, you would hope you could reach out to them beyond the cultural norms and say you want help, that self control isn't enough.

Good luck.

Tyler Dick on June 03, 2020:

i am 19 years old. i average high distinctions in my university, but i feel dead. i am spending all my time daytime studying and i am only free after midnight, i tend to spend the night gaming up to 3-4am. im not sure if this is considered addiction... i am able to stop playing games for a few days when im busy or even an entire month if its close to my exams. with that being said, i am still constantly spending hours a day forcing myself to play games. im really stuck... i wouldnt be here if it wasnt for my health.. my eyes are weakening and i am having joint issues. my overall nutrient and hygiene is good. this means no one would ever suspect that i actually spend the night playing games. its not affecting my life overall as of present but i know i am unable to keep up with this much longer as my health will deteriorate. i really wish to get advise to stop gaming. i am unable to tell this to my asian parents because they would feel upset that their 19 year old son is still unable to have self discipline. advise would be appreciated

David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on May 06, 2020:

Well, sounds like you don't have the self-will to stop the habit. Quitting altogether may not work as well, so you may need a set schedule. If you live at home then you can ask your parents to help regulate it (without punishing you). If you don't live at home, such as being at college, you can ask a RA or school counselor for assistance. You can even set up a support group for others who may have the same problem.

. on May 05, 2020:

I am an A student, however, I do have a problem with video games. As opposed to spending all day playing video games where I cant do my school work, because I am as equally obsessed with my schoolwork, ill do that, then sometimes play all night, is there any way that I can stop this?

David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on January 23, 2020:

That's not really a long time, but it depends on how it affects your life. If you are neglecting school, work, family, etc., then it could be a problem. That's for you to decide and seek help if you feel you need it.

Trouble? on January 23, 2020:

I spend like 30-45 minutes each day playing games. I don’t know how to completely quit it.

David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on September 08, 2019:

Number of hours doesn't really factor into a gaming addition (my own personal opinion). Instead, it's how it affects your life. Were you missing out on important commitments due to it? Such as school, work, family? Then yes, it could have been an issue.

Metallica on September 07, 2019:

Good Evening David.

I just wanna ask something, I nowadays don't play games that much anymore, but I stick to game delevoping more. I spent like atleast 3 hours into delevoping games everyday. Is it bad? Is this some kind of addiction?

Samuel on September 03, 2019:

Thank for helping conquer my addiction playing games

David Livermore (author) from Bakersfield, California, United States on September 02, 2019:

Your parents should be restricting your access and you should ask them to do it. You need to go to them to tell them you are having trouble stopping and you need their support to do so.

Vrotlex on August 31, 2019:

I’ve been addicted to Roblox for 2 years

and it made my