Gaming Addiction Frequently Asked Questions
Help and Answers for those that are addicted to video games and for their friends/family.
References and further reading listed at the bottom of the page.
Gaming Addiction FAQ

1. WHAT IS VIDEO GAMING ADDICTION?

Video gaming addiction is excessive or compulsive use of computer and video games that interferes with daily life.  This includes online poker and fantasy sports as well.

2. HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM ADDICTED TO VIDEO GAMING?

Video gaming should be a healthy and fun part of your lifestyle.  If you find yourself thinking about games constantly, avoiding family, friends, work, and/or school to play games, concealing the amount of games you play from others, or mixing substance use and games together, you may be addicted to internet gaming.  Try taking one of our surveys and compare your responses to the results.

3. IS VIDEO GAMING ADDICTION COMMON?

It is estimated as many as 10% of regular online gamers are addicted to gaming.  See our facts page for more statistics and our results page to see the responses to our surveys.

4. HOW MANY HOURS SHOULD I PLAY WEEKLY?

This varies depending on your life.   A general answer is that it should not consume more time than any other hobby would.  Another general rule is that you should not play more games than you work or go to school.  The question to ask yourself is: What else could you be doing with your time instead of playing video games?  Making more money?  Meeting a new partner?  Exercising?  If you find you could live an entirely new life without playing games, you may be playing too much!  If you play more than 40 hours per week, see our videos page and consider support.  Finally, this table is intended for gamers not experiencing negative life events related to gaming including but not limited to lower grades in school, failed relationships, and missing work.  If this describes you or someone you care about, moderation may not be appropriate and prohibition may be the best choice.

We suggest the following for healthy gaming PER WEEK:

Relationship
Status
Employment
/ School
Maximum
# hours
SingleUnemployed
/ out of school
40
SingleEmployed
/ school
30
Relationship
/ Married
Unemployed
/ out of school
30
Relationship
/ Married
Employed
/ school
20
Married
w/ children
Unemployed
/ out of school
20
Married
w/ children
Employed
/ school
10

5. IS VIDEO GAMING ADDICTION A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER?

Currently, video game addiction is not recognized as a mental health disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.  However, current efforts are underway to change this for the future.

6. I HAVE A VIDEO GAME ADDICTION STORY TO SHARE OR WANT TO READ OTHERS.  WHERE CAN I DO IT?

We are writing a nonfiction book soon with video gaming addiction stories.  Please see our stories page to contribute yours and read others.  

7. SHOULD I SEEK HELP?

If gaming interferes with your work, school, relationships, mental or physical health, you should see our booksvideo or personal support page.  The worst thing you can waste in life is time.  While we believe that treatment is generally a negative way to deal with video game addiction, we will help you find a treatment center that is right for you.  We have referral information for treatment programs worldwide.  Find information about programs near you.

8. HOW DO I HELP SOMEONE WITH A GAMING ADDICTION?

If you believe someone you care about is experiencing negative life consequences due to their excessive gaming, the first step is to be supportive.  Being negative and confrontational will actually encourage them to further withdraw into their gaming.  Since gaming addiction is purely mental and not reliant upon a substance, there are many different reasons people play excessive amounts of games and many approaches that can be successful for intervention.   For the most comprehensive self-help resources on gaming addiction, check out our books page.

9. CAN I FORCE A LOVED ONE TO SEEK HELP?

If a loved one is addicted to video games, forcing them to seek help can often lead to other relationship problems and this is NOT RECOMMENDED unless you feel gaming addiction is causing someone to be dangerous to themselves or others.  If this is the case, please call your local emergency line.  Otherwise, given the social acceptability of gaming (as compared with drinking and drug use), encouraging a loved one to seek help for online gaming can be a serious challenge.  This is what makes our videos and  personal support unique.  We can support you in reaching your friend or family member in a way that is non-intrusive and that has no negative stigma associated with it.  However, if you are a parent that feels your child needs treatment, we have referral information for treatment programs worldwide.  Find information about programs near you.

10. WHY WON'T MY PARTNER STOP GAMING?

First, ask yourself why you want them to stop gaming.  Do they stay up all night and cause problems?  Do they ignore you in favor of the games?  In this case, more responsible gaming and respect may be an issue in the relationship.   How are you treating your partner in the same instances?  Are their gaming behaviors more of a reflection of how you treat them or are they genuinely completely and totally unfounded.

When the gaming behaviors themselves are causing problems in the relationship, they need to be addressed in light of the behaviors themselves, NOT THE GAMING.  Everyone has hobbies and there is nothing wrong with playing an amount of games that conforms to the chart above.  However, some behaviors can be changed to better manage a relationship.  The request for this should be kind (not aggressive) AND you should be prepared to change your behaviors too that bother your partner.  

On the other hand, if you hate the games yourself, ask yourself why?  What is it about the games that is worse than other activities?  Is it because they occur while you are around instead of happening somewhere else?  Does the headset and the yelling at the TV or computer drive you crazy?  If it does, the best course is simply isolation.  Get a place where they can game without bothering you.

11. WHY WON'T MY CHILD STOP GAMING?

For many children, playing video games and using the Internet is the best way to avoid the "awkward" high school years, to feel important and powerful (which they likely won't in college or thereafter) and to escape reality for any reason.  Many parents have tried everything from physically cutting the cable to canceling accounts and treatment but the child continues to still want to play the games.  First, understanding that excessive gaming is usually the physical manifestation of other emotional problems can help a parent to understand that rather than fight the gaming itself, the best approach may be to try to understand what is being avoided, suppressed, or enabled by being addicted to video games.  This is similar to other addictions but the main difference is the second possibility: playing games is simply fun and there is nothing else as fun as playing video games.  Here the key difference is that, like introducing any new technology from television to the printing press and wider availability of novels to read (some kids no doubt had "reading addictions" that prevented them from doing well in school or playing outside), people take a while to adapt and use exciting new parts of life in a rational way.  

The moral of the story is that THERE IS NO MAGIC RECIPE ANYWHERE for getting your child to start gaming and that this is simply a frustrating fact of our society.  With young women surging forward in motivation, men more often than ever are withdrawing into video games as a way to feel like they are contributing to the world.  Some of the most comprehensive self-help resources for helping a child with gaming are found on our books page.  You also can have a personal video made for you by our founder, Jerry Banfield


12. WHAT TREATMENT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?

For anyone who has conquered any addiction knows, it is harder to quit when the addiction remains a part of your life.  People with gaming addictions may not be able to get rid of a console as they watch movies on it or get rid of a computer that is also used for homework.  In many cases, it would be like asking an alcoholic to stop drinking and continue to tend the bar.  Thus, what can you do?

You could ask the person you care about, be it a child or partner to take some time away from the environment they are in.  This could be a wilderness camp, a vacation, or spending time at another place they live more often.  This may work if it is practical for them to continue to stay there.  However, in the case of a vacation, bootcamp, or other option that is not sustainable, this is unlikely to be successful.  More than likely, as soon as the gamer returns to their normal gaming environment, they will want to continue gaming regardless of past alternatives.  

What about seeking video game addiction treatment from a professional?  We have not received a story yet or found one online where treatment from a professional was successful for combating video game addiction.  The success stories we find are almost always from self-help and support from family, friends, or people that have overcome a gaming addiction personally.  Why might this be?  Licensed professional counselors and other mental health specialistics have set addiction programs they treat every patient with.  While they do not take the exact same steps for the alcoholic as they take for a child experiencing gaming addiction, the methods are generic and often ignore the technological revolution changing our society.  Behavioral therapy and counseling sessions can cost thousands of dollars and be almost entirely irrelevant for making a long term difference in a gamer's life.  Why is this true?  Our society does not consider video games a bad way of living.  Other areas of treatment can be quite effective because they are generally thought of as wrong including alcoholism, substance abuse, and psychological disorders.  Gaming addiction is an entirely different area that few counselors have ever experienced themselves. 

What should you do?  Using the community and self-help resources on our website linked on the left, you can find the best help you need right here at no cost.  For even more comprehensive self-help resources, we have 18 of our favorite gaming addiction books listed on the books page.  You can also seek help from people that have personally conquered gaming addictions like our founder through our support.   Our support costs 10% of treatment and is direct, online, and confidential.   See the support page for details.

13. WHERE CAN I FIND THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE AND UPDATED INFORMATION ABOUT GAMING ADDICTION?

Right here!  We have searched through thousands of pages, videos, and are constantly adding more to the website.  Check out our resources page for a collection of all the best online resources.   If you are looking for material beyond the Internet, we have just added our "books and more" section with a list of the most comprehensive self-help resources on the web for gaming addiction.  Check it out here.

14. I've played Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, or another online video game 24 hours straight how can I stop?

You need to replace gaming with something else in your life. This will take time but you should find another area of life you are interested in that could translate into helping you live a better future.  Our founder had a gaming addiction for ten years and finally found a way to stop by starting gamingaddiction.net to help other people with gaming addictions. Find something like this you can do to help other people. Knowing you are ready to change is the first step and finding help here is the next step.



15. Should you just go into game development if you are a gaming addict?

Ideally, you should mix work and pleasure 100%. However, doing it the right way is important. For example, our founder suffered from a gaming addiction for ten years, and suggests that that going into game development would not have been right for for him as a way to mix work and pleasure. Just because you enjoy doing something doesn't mean you would like working in that area. For example, if you like drinking, being a bartender is not necessary a career you would enjoy. The key is to find something you like to do and find a way to make money doing it.

Think further about gaming: what EXACTLY do you enjoy about it? Do you like the challenge of survival? Do you like working together with other people? Our founder always liked the fight for survival the most and therefore finally figured out after ten years that he should go into business. Finally, he is able to live free of gaming addiction because he now fights for survival in business. The same thing you enjoy about the game should translate into some type of work and the difficult part is figuring out WHICH area. Try out different subjects and see what you like!

Check your or someone else's gaming addiction nowVideos about gaming addictionFacts about gaming addictionGaming Addiction BooksGaming Addiction Store

Did you find these Frequently Asked Questions helpful?  If so,  learn how you can help others find it.

If not or if you have suggestions for improvement, please let us know how by completing this two question survey.

References:
  1. Zur Institute: Incredible wealth of information on many different topics and continuing education for therapists.
  2. Online Gamers Anonymous: Modeled upon the Alcoholics Anonymous model and includes forums, chat room, and meetings.
  3. Wikipedia on Video Gaming Addiction: Solid encyclopedic resource for understanding gaming addiction.
  4. World of Warcraft Addiction Detox: Thousands of World of Warcraft addiction stories.
  5. Net Addiction: General Internet/Technology addiction website.
  6. Game Addiction Test: PC Internet Safety Blog Game Addiction Flash Test
  7. Internet Gaming Addiction: PDF Brochure with Internet Gaming Addiction Information.
  8. WebMD Video Gaming Addiction: Medical advice for Gaming Addiction
  9. Video Game Addiction 
  10. Gambling Addiction Support: Based in Florida
  11. Self Discipline
  12. Cracked.com: How Games try to get you Addicted
  13. CyberPsychology

What is Gaming Addiction?
  • Playing video games, online games, mobile games, fantasy sports, or online poker more than 40 hours per week AND/OR  hurting relationships, frequently missing sleep, or failing in school/work as a result of gaming.
  • Having helped most people with gaming addiction for free and others at a low cost through our support, we strongly discourage spending $1000 or more to get professional treatment for gaming addiction.  However, we do have local treatment center information available on our website if you are certain that's what you need.

Keys to Overcoming Gaming Addiction:
  • Understand: What gaming is, what gaming addiction is, and what role it plays in a gamer’s life.  If you are having problems but cannot understand why, the logical step is discuss the situation with other people.
  • Solve: Problems that are created by excessive gaming.   Our videos and support team can help highlight solutions that have worked for others to live a healthier and happier life.
  • Act: Out the solution and live a healthier life free of gaming addiction.  In the end, it is up to you to help yourself and make the  most out of your life.
Suggestions?
  • Please tell us how we can do better by completing this quick survey.
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