In their healthy form video games can be fun, and relaxing and even help people who are struggling with communication to feel more comfortable when socializing and to open up to real life. Unfortunately, when the core reasons for the infatuation of video games are loneliness, trauma and feeling rejected, we get a group of vulnerable people, who seek to escape from their lives and problems, and a modern industry, that is more than happy to provide them with said escape.

Addiction to video games presents a severe problem, that has been highlighted in recent years as the “gaming disorder” was officially included in the 11th edition of “The International Statistical Classification of Diseases” (ICD-11). The addiction to video games is also described in “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5-TR) of the American Psychiatric Association, which is used by mental health specialists to diagnose mental disorders.

Some of the most common symptoms of the problematic use of video games are their excessive prioritization and the inability to stop them when necessary even when negative consequences become present. In the end, this leads to problems in the real world and everyday functioning. Deteriorating relationships in real life slowly get replaced with online ones. As a result of this social life, education and work gradually fade into the background. All of this inevitably leads to the development and worsening of mental problems.

To be classified as a disorder the gaming behavior should be long lasting over a couple of years or episodic and recurrent. It should be proven to cause significant hardships in the personal, familial, professional and social life and other important areas of functioning and to be present for at least one year.

It should not be surprising that the addiction to gaming brings additional problems such as inadequate physical activity from excessive sitting, unhealthy diet, problems with vision, as well as posture problems from the prolonged improper way of sitting.

Outside of the debates on the classification of the condition and the determination of the criteria for its diagnosis, the prerequisites for the development of addiction to games remain a significant topic. Research shows some predisposition in individuals who are bullied in school, have low self-esteem and problems with their identity, are exposed to toxic family relations, have had early trauma, or exhibit an inability to cope with negative emotions. Factors are having special needs (SEN) as well as long-lasting endurance of social isolation, feelings of loneliness or rejection by the family, friends or peers.

Researchers are still trying to determine the exact cause of the addictiveness of the Internet and video games. According to the most popular hypothesis, the process of playing and winning in video games can trigger the release of dopamine. In the beginning video games create an abundance of neurotransmitters because of their newness which in turn causes the brain to lose sensitivity to them. That is the brain’s way of keeping balance. In time, this adaptation leads to increased hours playing video games to reach initial satisfaction – a principle that is valid for developing any addiction.

Because of the importance of the topic new specific treatments and organizations are being formed that work for dealing with gaming addiction. Since the roots of any addiction are systematic, the treatment of it requires dedication, awareness and support, as well as an understanding of the personal prerequisites for its development.