Video Gaming Problem Signs

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) was introduced for the first time within the “conditions for further study” in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association. The World Health Organization has added gaming disorder as an official diagnosis, which means health care providers could begin to diagnose video game addiction as a mental health disorder.

Video game play has become one of the fastest-growing forms of entertainment with over 2.5 billion players worldwide and generating an estimated $159 billion in 2020. While most people play for fun and entertainment, there is growing evidence that, for a small but critical percentage of players, video game play may have harmful implications.

Although MACGH continues to work to minimize the negative impacts of gambling, the organizations mission has expanded to include video gaming. Over time, video gaming and e-gaming has intersected with gambling products and promotions and gambling has found its way into video gaming and online products. Increasingly, the most popular video games offer token wagering, real money gaming, and “social casino” games. The link to gambling goes beyond previous warnings about “loot boxes,” which offer players a random assortment of prizes, but can cost real or in-game currency to open. Recent studies have also linked youth playing these games and future problem gambling behavior.

Most games offer an escape from reality and allow players to experience new and impossible experiences. An obsessive preoccupation with games, at the expense of real-life activities, or obligations, shares some of the characteristics of addictive behavior.

Here are a few of the key warning signs to watch for:

    • Poor performance at school, work, or household responsibilities as a result of a preoccupation with gaming
    • Neglect of other hobbies or friendships
    • A decline in personal hygiene or grooming
    • Inability to set limits on how much time is spent gaming
    • Signs of irritability, anxiety, or anger when forced to stop gaming, even for brief periods of time
    • The need to spend more time playing games or to play more intensely in order to get the same level of enjoyment
    • Symptoms of physical or psychological withdrawal, such as loss of appetite, sleeplessness, agitation, or emotional outbursts if the game is taken away
    • Using video games as a way to escape stressful situations at work or school, or conflicts at home

The MACGH is currently developing a program to provide critical knowledge needed to address at-risk gaming and Gaming Disorder, from prevention through treatment and recovery. To learn more, check out the Gaming Health Specialist Certificate program.

For questions on services or trainings, contact

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