Gaming disorder is characterized by “Persistent and recurrent use of the Internet to engage in games, often with other players, leading to clinically significant impairment” (DSM V). 

Gaming disorder can be subdivided into categories/profiles, predominantly online and predominantly offline (ICD). Both are characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior online or offline:

  1. Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context).
  2. Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities.
  3. Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

This behavior may be continuous over the span of years or episodic and recurrent, it must cause distress or significant difficulties in personal, family and/or social life, educational and/or occupational environments or other important areas of functioning and it must be present for at least 1 year.

Generally speaking the motivation for playing video games is not that different from other addictive behaviors. The cause can be:

  • Getting bullied in school
  • Feeling like you are not challenged enough at school
  • Low self-esteem and identity issues
  • Living in an abusive house hold
  • Having some form of trauma
  • Inability to deal with negative emotions
  • Being special needs
  • Social isolation, feelings of loneliness or that you are not understood/rejected by family, friends or peers

Some of the most common symptoms for problematic video game use are:

  • Preoccupation with video games.
  • Being unable to stop when needed – this interruption can often lead the person to become irritable and aggressive.
  • Cannot cut back on their own – often leads to feelings of guilt, shame, weakness and disappointment which results in more video games
  • Prioritization of video games over other activities.
  • Eventually leading to problems in real life and daily functioning.
  • Deteriorating relationships in real life slowly replaced with online substitutes.
  • As a result social life, education and work grind to a halt and slowly disappear.
  • All this inevitably leads to developing or worsening of mental issues.

Thankfully, there are organizations aimed at helping those with gaming addiction to overcome it and successfully reintegrate into society.