Is It Enthusiastic Video Game Playing, or Addiction?

Teenage boy (17-19 years) playing video game, close-up (video still)Every generation embraces at least one new form of technology. Often, the older generation worries that the new technology will destroy the foundation of civilization. Video games are no different, and virtually every child who grew up with video games has heard a parent complain that the games rot brains, destroy families, or interfere with homework.

While video games are often the subject of unfair derision, they can become a serious, addictive problem. Video game addiction is a serious matter that can destroy relationships, throw careers off-kilter, and leave people struggling to rediscover their place in the world.

The Controversy Surrounding Video Game Addiction

Like video games themselves, video game addiction has long been a subject of controversy. The most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM-5, doesn’t list video game addiction as a mental health disorder, though the American Psychiatric Association argues that internet gaming problems warrant more research.

Even though video game addiction isn’t a formally recognized disorder, concern about the risks of video game addiction is widespread. The creators of the mobile game Flappy Bird, for example, removed the game from app stores partially due to concerns about addiction to the game.

Indiana University doctoral student Drew Zaitsoff argues that research into gaming addiction sometimes conflates dedicated playing with addiction. He’s developed a survey to analyze addictive versus enthusiastic gaming behavior. If you’re interested in helping Zaitsoff’s research, you can take the survey here.

Is It Addiction or Just Enthusiastic Gaming?

Zaitsoff hasn’t yet completed his research, and research into the nature of video game addiction remains limited, with mixed and often contradictory results. If you’re concerned about your own gaming or the gaming practices of a loved one, though, consider the effect gaming has on your life. Rather than evaluating how much time you spend gaming or how much you enjoy it, evaluate your symptoms. If you experience several of the following symptoms, it could be time to seek help:

  • Do you feel abnormal or like you’re going through withdrawal when you can’t play video games?
  • Do you routinely abandon other responsibilities for games? Procrastination is common, but ignoring everything you need to do for days or weeks could be a concern.
  • Have others complained about the effects of your gaming?
  • Do you find that you need to play for longer and longer periods to get the same satisfaction?

Video game addiction doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up gaming altogether. Indeed, video gaming can have positive social, cognitive, and emotional effects. Just like any other behavior, though, when gaming becomes the sole focus of your life, therapy can help you put things back into perspective.


  1. Good, O. S. (2014, May 11). Researcher seeks to draw a line between games addiction and ‘highly enthusiastic’ play. Retrieved from
  2. Internet gaming disorder [PDF]. (2013, May). American Psychiatric Association.
  3. Shoichet, C. E. (2014, February 11). Developer yanks ‘Flappy Bird’ after game soars to success. Retrieved from
  4. Video games may provide learning, health, social benefits, review finds. (2013, November 25). Retrieved from

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Dave s

    Dave s

    May 21st, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    I suppose the view is all in who you ask.
    Ask the gamer and he or she will likely just tell you that they just love what they are doing, it is a hobby, that they can give it up any time that they want.
    Ask someone who is losing time to all of that and they will probably tell you that their partner has a serious problem with video game addiction and that they are losing out on a great relationship because of the addiction.
    Who should you believe?

  • Carter


    May 22nd, 2014 at 4:36 AM

    There are people who lose entire days to this. Personally I can’t se it. I am way too much of an extrovert to get caught up in solitary games like this. Now for those who are more of the loner type I can definitely see how they could sucked into that kind of lifestyle.

  • Paulina


    May 23rd, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    Well I had a boyfriend once who paid more attention to the TV and his phone with these games than he ever did to me so I eventually had to call it quits. I am not going to be in competition with something that I can never compete against. It was a real problem for us and I know that we are not the only couple who has had this kind of problem or else there wouldn’t be so much written about it. The games can be fun and can be an escape but they can also be taken to levels that are unhealthy and pretty much build barriers to a relationship that you may be trying to have. In the adult world you have to learn how to stop and say no and I think that this is something that a lot of the gamer sorts have a reall issue with.

  • Thomas E. Andre, MA, NCC, LAPC

    Thomas E. Andre, MA, NCC, LAPC

    May 29th, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    I have see patients of various ages in the Atlanta, Georgia metro area that come to me, usually at the urging of a concerned person or parent. Many have been talented, smart students who have lost control of their priorities and focus. Others may never have had a focus, such as school, but like their cohort in school – they seem to invest and waste a lot of time online. There are benefits to computers, the Internet, and to games; however, for some who have an inability to regulate – it can also come with a heavy burden and financial cost. I believe this topic area warrants further study. The more it is talked about and brought into social awareness, the more we’ll see it in therapeutic environments. There are people who need help.

  • Elaine


    May 30th, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    Of all of the things that you could get addicted to I would never think that video games would be such a problem for apparently so many people

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