Although video game addiction is not yet an official psychiatric diagnosis, it is still reasonable to conclude that some players spend far too much time engaged with online computer games and that this can have serious consequences for their lives in the real world.
In an attempt to define the symptoms of video game addiction, researchers initially examined the diagnostic criteria for other more well known obsessive behaviors.
For example, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Pathological Gambling is classified as an impulse-control disorder and includes symptoms such as a preoccupation with gambling, the need to spend more and more time gambling, irritability when one must cut down or stop gambling, involvement in illegal activity to finance the habit, and reliance on others to provide money to get out of desperate financial situations.
It was a good start to clarify the signs of excessive play by using mostly objective criteria. However, adapting existing symptoms of one disorder to fit another condition has significant drawbacks. For example, a video game addict is unlikely to be involved in illegal activities to finance his or her habit, and it is not clear that the concept of a high that comes from larger bets while gambling can be adapted to fit video game addiction.
As such, researchers and mental health professionals have started to propose different ways to classify video game addiction symptoms that rely less on adapting the criteria for other disorders.
One such system proposes that the symptoms of video game addiction can be broken down into four categories psychological symptoms, physical symptoms, behavioral symptoms, and relational symptoms.
With this classification system in mind, below is a list of ten psychological symptoms of video game addiction. Again, because video game addiction is not an official psychiatric condition, keep in mind that is not an official list of diagnostic symptoms. However it is based on current research on this issue and clinical work with individuals who have sought help for excessive gaming.
1. Feelings of guilt, regret, and that one has wasted his or her time after playing for much longer than originally intended
2. Feelings of irritability, depression, frustration, or lethargy when unable to play for more than a few days
3. Strong feelings of guilt when one does not join their online team for a prearranged mission or quest
4. Frequently experiencing a distorted sense of time, such as the perception that only an hour has passed while in fact the person has been playing for three or four hours
5. Frequent justification of use that would be considered excessive by most others (I just use it to relax, what is the problem with this?)
6. A significant loss of interest in activities or hobbies that the gamer once enjoyed
7. Experiencing a sense of contentment, peace, and calmness when one is gaming that does not exist otherwise
8. Often thinking about one's next gaming session when involved in other activities or people (for example, at school, with friends, while working, etc.)
9. Frequently downplaying the negative effects of excessive gaming (At least I'm not addicted to drugs or alcohol)
10. Significantly decreased interest in academic and / or work-related success