In 2006, an Amsterdam-based drug and alcohol treatment center opened a new clinic. The center’s director, Keith Bakker noticed a trending—but unique—addiction, and decided to jump into a brand new realm of treatment to meet the need.
The clinic exists to treat those addicted to video games. And for the last seven years Bakker has successfully helped hundreds of people who just can’t seem to leave their joysticks alone.
As he watched patients overcome—or should I say, “zap,” “karate-chop,” or “beat”—their gaming addiction, Bakker told CBS news that video games can be as addictive as gambling or drugs, and just as hard to kick.
What is Video Game Addiction?
Most people can handle it. Typically, video games are just another ball in the massive juggling act of life. At least that’s where they begin. The problem of addiction comes in when you start dropping balls because of your gaming habits.
Personal relationships are neglected, involvement at school and in the community becomes second to gaming, and a screen filled with an artificial reality distorts the importance of family.
And America watches as video games become the newest addiction on the block.
What Makes a Video Game Addicting?
Similar to drugs, alcohol and gambling—video games are designed to be addictive. The creative minds behind the creation of video games want their product to be used, and then talked about by those who use it.
Think about gambling. Casinos carefully monitor their machines and games making sure people are “winning” enough to make them come back again and again.
In the same way, video games are designed to make people keep playing. This is accomplished through compelling games that are difficult, but beatable. There are a number of “hooks” built into games, making them addictive (taken from video-game-addiction.org):
- The High Score: When there is a high score to beat, it’s hard to put the controller down till you’ve beaten it.
- Role Playing: Now you’re more than just playing the game, you’re becoming one of the characters and experiencing it.
- Discovery: Discovery of the unknown often drives people to continue playing video games for hours on end.
Do I Need Help? 10% of America probably does . . .
Studies have demonstrated that 10% of those who play video games regularly are addicted to them. (To watch the video, click here).
The symptoms of an actual video game addiction are similar to the signs of other addictions. Here are a couple common signs to watch for:
- Lying about how much time you play video games is a common symptom.
- Feeling guilty about the amount of time you’ve played video games that day.
- Neglecting responsibility to play video games.
- Getting intense pleasure from playing video games.
- Being defensive when someone approaches you about your problem.
Do you fall into the 10% category of addiction?