Video game addiction is the compulsive or excessive playing of video games. People with this addiction routinely play games instead of attending to everyday tasks and socializing. They might also develop unhealthy eating habits, become irritable when not able to game, and in rare cases die from exhaustion due to non-stop gaming. While the constant playing of video games can severely interfere with someone’s life, video game addiction has not been researched enough to officially call it a disorder. Still, some countries have medical facilities and health professionals who help people overcome the addiction and return to a healthier way of living.
The symptoms of video game addiction are similar to drug and gambling addictions. Addicts play for increasingly longer periods of time, and their avatars, reputation, or achievements in the game gradually become very important to them. When someone is addicted to a video game, he or she might start to choose gaming over maintaining friendships in the real world. An addict might also neglect hygiene and lie about his or her total time spent gaming each day.
Many people experience one or two of these symptoms while still maintaining their schoolwork, jobs, and relationships. To some experts, those people are still considered addicts due to their excessive gaming. Other experts disagree, arguing that gaming is a form of leisure activity not unlike watching television or knitting, both of which can take up hours of time. What is considered unhealthy, addictive behavior is a controversial subject.
There are quite a few highly publicized incidents of people committing suicide or murder and dying of exhaustion due to video game addiction. For example, in South Korea, a three-month old baby died from malnutrition while her parents played a game in an Internet cafe. In addition, some people have been stabbed or strangled to either earn money to play video games or to exact revenge for taking the game away. While similar crimes happen for thousands of other reasons, these cases are labeled the work of video game addicts because the deaths were spurred by games.
In some countries, clinics have been opened in response to crimes and concern regarding this kind of addiction. These countries include the United States, Netherlands, and China. Twelve-step programs and some kinds of therapy have proved effective at treating gaming and other Internet-related addictions. Not every patient finds addiction therapy beneficial, however, and there has been at least one case of a patient committing suicide during treatment.