There are so many games that make you want to play for hours, to have fun online with your friends until morning! Some people even go as far as not sleeping for 24 or 48h. But then again, daily life usually takes care of controlling our gaming hours, at least mine!
We tend to think that video game disorders and video game addiction affect young gamers, teenagers, and even young adults who generally have fewer obligations in their lives. But studies remind us that video game addiction can affect people up to their thirties (18-24 years old male being more at risk).
How many times have I said to myself in the last few years: "I feel like I could spend the whole night playing Call of Duty, I'm on fire tonight! " or "I'm really into this good part of Cyberpunk 2077, I could play until 2-3 am, easy! ". Then there's that little voice in my 40-something-years-old guy's head that says, "Steeve, you're working tomorrow, don't forget! ".
Let's just say that the "just another game and I'll quit" phenomenon is never far away.
Video Game Addiction and Its Impact
I've known people and received various testimonies from parents who have some problems with their teenagers who are addicted to video games. It's not easy to deal with, for sure.
The consequences can be numerous, such as:
Difficulties at school;
Isolation within their own family;
Even various sleep disorders.
Remember my recent interview with professional player Stephanie Harvey where we talked about sleep routines and where she stressed the importance of sleep, as it is essential for a good balance.
I don’t want to dive too much into the technical side of things, to talk about psychology, to recommend specific specialists and services, because, well… I’m not a psychologist.
I don't know anything about psychology and I can't (and don't want to) play the role of a "two-bit psychologist" or wannabe specialist in the field. I'm just a guy who's passionate about this beautiful entertainment medium that is video games, a careful and prudent dad.
Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with video game addiction in my own family, but as mentioned above, I have heard plenty about it.
It is important to know that there are specialists who can help and advise those people who have loved ones suffering from video game addiction.
A player touchingly left World of Warcraft after spending 24,000 hours in the game
In Life, Anything Can Become an Addiction
I've been covering the video game industry since 2008. I've seen, read, and heard stories about it over the years.
Video games have a lot to answer for, and are sometimes blamed, rightly or wrongly, for tragic events in the news.
When I hear that video games are addictive, I immediately think: yes, but you can get addicted to anything in life! I can be addicted to playing the lottery, drinking, reading, snowshoeing, home improvement, auto mechanics, or... making creamy strawberry-filled cupcakes while being naked at 4 am! Why not?! The potential addictions are endless, the practice of our favorite activities is exciting, but it's all about balance.
Video games are no different. Obviously, some addictions are more harmful than others, I agree.
Of course, if a minor child suffers from video game disorder, it's up to the parents to set the rules. According to some studies, it is especially young people who are susceptible to this addiction.
My Recommendations for an Adult Player
If you feel that you have a problem with video game addiction, you're already halfway there. Acknowledging that you have a problem is a big step towards solving it.
When someone doesn't realize they have a problem, it's hard for others to intervene or help, regardless of the addiction. But as for video game disorder, I would go with a few suggestions (not scientific, but they seem logical and appropriate):
To avoid cutting your game off all at once and feeling "withdrawal" symptoms on your way to bed, play a few minutes of a relaxing game before you go to sleep. This way, the break from your favorite entertainment will be smooth and transitional.
Force yourself to leave the room in the house where you play all your games. Have "eye contact" with a family member, see the sun through the windows, breathe the air in another room, even only for a few minutes. This habit can stimulate your alertness, putting you back in touch with your "real environment".
When you close your console or computer, don't take over with another screen (phone, tablet), even if only for an hour. It feels good to be offline from time to time, to take a break from the news, social networks, and everything else.
Buy a pet! A dog, a cat, a bird, or a fish for example. Choose an animal that you will interact with, that will demand your attention, your love. However, don't forget that too often we see animals bought and left to fend for themselves shortly after, so if you make this decision, take good care of it!
After a fun game session, watch a TV show (without your phone nearby) for an hour before going to bed. If you're fully engaged in the adventure, it's easy to stop the game the next day and pick up a new episode of your show.
Remember to get an adequate amount of sleep. A good night's sleep is priceless!
Talk to a friend or family member. Whether you are the person with the addiction problem or it is about someone close to you, it's important to talk about it.
There is always someone, somewhere, who can help, who can become the small spark that will allow the affected person to start freeing themselves from this addiction.