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INTRODUCTION

Video game addiction is an excessive or compulsive use of computer games


or video games, which interferes with a person's everyday life. Video game
addiction may present as compulsive game-playing; social isolation; mood
swings; diminished imagination; and hyper-focus on in-game achievements,
to the exclusion of other life events. In May 2013, video game addiction was
added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in the
Conditions for Further Study section as "Internet Gaming Disorder".

What is Gaming Addiction?


Video game addiction is described as an impulse control disorder, which
does not involve use of an intoxicating drug and is very similar to
pathological gambling. Video game addiction has also been referred to as
video game overuse, pathological or compulsive/excessive use of computer
games and/or video games.
Those suffering from video game addiction may use the Internet to access
massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) and multiuser domain games (MUDs). MMORPGs are networks of people, all
interacting with one another to play a game to achieve goals, accomplish
missions, and reach high scores in a fantasy world. MUDs combine
elements of role-playing games, fighting, and killing in a social chat channel
with limited graphics. Some of the most popular on-line games include
EverQuest, Asheron Call, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy,
Vanguard, and City of Heroes. Most MMORPGs charge monthly
subscription fee.
Similar to other addictions, individuals suffering from video game addiction
use the virtual fantasy world to connect with real people through the
Internet, as a substitution for real-life human connection, which they are
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unable to achieve normally. Some suffering from video game addiction may
develop an emotional attachment to on-line friends and activities they create
on their computer screens. Those suffering from video game addiction may
enjoy aspects of the on-line games that allow them to meet, socialize, and
exchange ideas through games. Because some games requires a large
number of players to log on simultaneously, for long durations of time, to
accomplish a games task, players may feel an obligation and loyalty to
other players. This may further the individuals justification of his/her use
and sense of relationship with other players, that are otherwise strangers.
Statistics show that men and boys are more likely to become addicted to
video games versus women and girls. Recent research has found that nearly
one in 10 youth gamers (ages 8-18) can be classified as pathological gamers
or addicted to video-gaming.

CHARACTERISTICS OF ADDICTION

It is important to understand that Gamer Addiction has the basic identifying


characteristics of all addictions. These tend to be progressive and cyclic.
Intense pleasure/guilt
More pleasure derived from playing video games than anything else
Sense of well-being or euphoria while playing
Guilt because of the amount of time spent playing the games and the lack of
attention to other issues
Obsessing
When not engaging in the activity, individual constantly thinks about the
activity; gaming controls the thoughts
Craves more and more time with activity
Neglecting
Neglects everything to play the video games: studies, work, hygiene, sleep,
relationships, food, family and friends
Lying
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Denies and lies about the amount of time devoted to playing and expenses
involved ,Will lie to protect source of pleasure and good feelings
Anger/Depression
Angry when something/someone interferes with activity, Feels empty,
depressed, irritable when not at computer or gaming
Unable to Control
Engages in game playing after deciding not to do so; decides to play one
hour; plays three, four, or all night Compulsively keeps investing time and
money
Debt
Money spent on addiction before paying for food/rent/etc.
Will go in debt to pursue and engage in addiction

Dependency
A high followed by a low; cure is to play again and regain the high A deeper
low follows and the cycle is repeated.

Reasons for Gaming Addiction


1 The most addictive video games have no pre-defined ends. This is one
of the central features of a MMORPG, but it is also becoming true for many
other genres as well. The most addictive video games have no ultimate goal
or point at which a player can say "I'm finished. I have completed every
quest - there is nothing new to discover". As such, there is never the
experience of "Game Over" - a point which signifies the natural end to a
game.

2 Addictive video games feed a need of making social connections. While


video games used to be solitary activities, today's games encourage, and in
many ways, require that players interact socially with each other - which
feeds the universal human need for interpersonal connections. Interestingly,
these connections can come at the expense of real-world relationships.

3 Video games are more addictive when in-game rewards are based on a
leveling system. When starting a new video game a player's character begins
with very basic attributes with regard to experience, strength, intelligence,
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courage, powers, etc. Initially, it takes very little play (perhaps minutes) to
reach the next level and gain new skills - this is immediately rewarding and
reinforces continued play. However, each successive level begins to take
more play time to reach - eventually taking weeks or months to level-up. By
this time however, the gamer has gradually adapted and accepted the greater
effort required to reach the next level. Imagine if the very first levels (e.g.,
from Level 1 to Level 2) took 1 month rather than several minutes - how
many players would find this rewarding enough to continue?

4 The more addictive video games often encourage play and


collaboration with gamers worldwide. This is true of online multiplayer
video games in general. The fact that two users on opposite sides of the
world can interact and join together in a common quest adds to the
excitement and exploratory nature of modern games.

5 Addictive video games often have some form of in-game currency. The
same goals and emotions which drive people to pursue wealth in the real
world are also present in video games. As one amasses more virtual wealth
(by spending more time playing and completing tasks), the virtual wealth
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translates into greater power, control, respect, influence, status, and


purchasing power - which are obviously very seductive pursuits.

6 It is easier to view video games as harmless online activities. Whereas


there is far greater awareness of the dangers of alcohol abuse or gambling
addiction, online gaming is generally seen as harmless hobby. Is it less
harmful than alcohol addiction? Absolutely. Can most people play without
becoming addicted? Sure. However, because of this it is also more difficult
for players to recognize when they have a problem.

7 One important factor that makes video games addictive is that


rewards often are set on variable schedules. It has been consistently
demonstrated in psychological research that variable ratio (reinforced after
an average number of attempts) or variable interval schedules (reinforced
after an average time period has elapsed) produces a steady rate of
responding and which is far more difficult to extinguish (e.g., slot machines
use variable ratio schedules to encourage maximum play time). In an
addictive video game, a player may be rewarded on average for every five
(for example) tasks completed. Sometimes it will take only one try while
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other times it may take 15 - the player never really knows how long it will
take before the big reward comes - but he knows that if he plays long enough
it will come eventually. This type of reward schedule encourages longer
periods of play even in the absence of rewards. For a more detailed analysis
of the ways people respond to different patterns of in-game rewards, see the
article Behavioral Game Design.

8 Addictive video games often require team play to advance. A player


starting a new game will initially be able accomplish goals by him/herself.
However, before long significant advancement in the game requires that
he/she join a group and accomplish goals together. The player will come to
feel a connection to the team and responsible for advancing their gaming
goals. Therefore, the player will want to advance his character even more so
that he can make a greater contribution to the team. In fact, if he does not
keep up with his team he may not even be able to join in on certain quests or
travel to parts of the world requiring a more advanced character. Finally,
since many tasks can only be accomplished in a group, the player will be
want to be online whenever his teammates are playing (which translates into
more total hours online). The team component is clearly a very important
factor in why certain video games are addictive.
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9 The virtual world of addictive video games continues to evolve even if


the player is not online. Therefore, if you are not playing and active in the
developments of the world, you are potentially left behind when you rejoin.
To avoid "missing" something you must play as much as possible.

10 Companies regularly release upgrades or expansion packs. Even if


players start to get bored of the online worlds their characters inhabit, video
game expansion packs can always add new areas for exploration, new
abilities to try, new tasks to complete, and new characters to develop.

11 Top video game players or teams can earn real world rewards (e.g.,
tournaments for cash prizes). This can be extremely motivating and can
encourage massive amounts of time to hone and develop skills (the
equivalent of an athlete training for the Olympics).

12 Addictive video games do not reward short and unscheduled periods


of play. Games that are very addictive require long-term commitments
(months or years) of regular gaming sessions lasting at least an hour or
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more. MMOs, real time strategy games, and many first person shooters
appeal to the hard core gamer who invests a significant portion of his free
time to the experience. Due to the great investment (e.g., months developing
a character) it becomes very hard to "throw away" all the work and uninstall
the game.

13 Addictive video games may allow the player to immerse him/herself


in a fully realized virtual world. You can create your own character with
attributes you wish you had in real life. You form relationships, develop a
career, and accomplish things that would be impossible (or require far more
effort) in the real world. Video games may offer an escape from the reality of
the physical world and into a digital universe where players can assume any
identity they desire.

14 Some video games require monthly fees. In order to play gamers must
pay $15 - $20 per month even after the game has been purchased. Of course,
the fact that there is a regular monthly charge encourages users to play more
so that they "get their money's worth".

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15 Video games can generate strong emotions in players. Because the


world and the online experience is mostly user generated, gamers can
experience wars, betrayal, friendship, romance, marriages, funerals, etc. The
variety and intensity of emotions experienced online can be similar to
emotions experienced in the real world.

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Warning signs of Video Game Addiction


Preoccupation with the Game. (Thoughts about previous on-line activity or
anticipation of the next on-line session.)
Use of the Game in increasing amounts of time in order to achieve
satisfaction.
Repeated, unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop Game use.
Feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression, or irritability when
attempting to cut down use of the Game.
Gaming longer than originally intended.
Jeopardized or risked loss of significant relationships, job, educational or
career opportunities because of Game use.
Lies to family members, friends, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of
involvement with the Game.
Use of the Game is a way to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric
mood. (e.g. feelings of hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, depression.)

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Additional warning signs for children include:


Fatigue, tendency to fall asleep during school
Not completing homework or assignments on time
Declining grades, or failing classes
Dropping out of school activities, clubs, sports, etc.
Isolating from family and friends to play video games.

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Effects of Gaming Addiction


Physical Consequences of Gaming Addiction
You've been searching all day. You've traveled hundreds of miles, sometimes
backtracking to make sure you haven't missed anything. Some areas are so
infested with hostile creatures that you've been prevented from continuing
on your journey until the creatures were destroyed. After all that, you've
finally ... finally, found what you've been looking for - the secret passage
that transports you to another place. You've moved up to the next level!
You're so excited that you barely notice how much your back hurts, nor do
you notice that you're on the verge of getting a migraine headache ... again.
It may sound like a strange story, but it's all too familiar for video game
players ("gamers"). Whether they play on an Xbox or online, they enter
worlds filled with witches, elves, dragons, and more, by traveling to
mysterious and sometimes secret locations. They spend so much time in this
other world, they begin to do physical damage to their bodies.

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Physical consequences of gaming addiction include carpal tunnel, migraines,


sleep disturbances, backaches, eating irregularities, and poor personal
hygiene.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome has long been associated with computer use, so it's
no surprise that it's a physical symptom of gaming addiction. Carpal tunnel
syndrome is caused when the main nerve between the forearm and hand is
squeezed or pressed. This occurs when the carpal tunnel - the area of the
wrist that houses the main nerve and tendons - becomes irritated or swollen.
Overuse of a computer mouse can cause such irritation and swelling, as can
excessive use of a video game controller.
Migraines
Migraine headaches typically start in one spot and slowly spread, getting
more painful as they progress. In severe cases, the pain can be so extreme
that it causes the sufferer to vomit. Light and noise can cause excruciating
pain. Someone who plays video games for extended periods of time is more
prone to migraines because of the intense concentration required and the
strain put on the eyes.

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Sleep Disturbances
The term "sleep disturbances" covers several sleep-related disorders,
including insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea, nocturnal myoclonus (periodic
leg or arms jerks during sleep), and parasomnia (i.e., night terrors,
sleepwalking or talking, and nightmares). Sleep disturbances are caused, in
part, by overstimulation of the brain. However, some people can't get a good
night's sleep simply because they think obsessively about the game they're
playing.
Backaches
Backaches are a common physical symptom of gaming addiction because
most gamers stay seated in the same position for hours on end. The lack of
movement causes stiffness and soreness, but could deteriorate into chronic
back problems.
Eating Irregularities
Eating irregularities are caused by gaming addiction simply because most
addicted gamers don't want to take the time to eat properly. Rather than
eating healthy, balanced meals, they eat food that is quick and usually
unhealthy. In extreme cases, the gamer may choose not to eat at all.

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Poor Personal Hygiene


An addicted gamer is not going to take the time to properly care for himself.
Showers, face-washing, and brushing hair and teeth all get put on the back
burner. It simply becomes less of a priority, if it's a priority at all.
These physical consequences will occur in varying degrees from one gamer
to another. Though the severity of physical consequences is often tied to the
severity of the addiction, this is not always the case. A gamer that is already
in poor physical condition will be more susceptible to these effects early on.

Social Consequences of Gaming Addiction


Your cell phone starts to ring and you look over to see who's calling. It's
your best friend. He probably wants to hang out. After all, it is Friday night.
You think about picking up the phone, but you don't. Instead, you tell
yourself, "I'll call him as soon as I finish this fight. You promise yourself
that you'll call him because, even though you go to the same school and have
most of the same classes, you haven't really hung out in a while. You've just
been too busy. So you promise yourself, "as soon as I finish...
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People who are addicted to gaming encounter situations like this all the time;
situations in which they have to choose whether to interact with the real
world or continue living in their virtual one. Sadly, the real world rarely
wins.
Social consequences are a very real part of gaming addiction. Addicted
gamers spend so much time playing that their personal relationships get
neglected and sometimes disappear altogether. Among addicted gamers who
are married, up to 50 percent report a strain in their marriage as a result of
their addiction.
A quick search online for information about video game addiction yields
multiple stories about detrimental, and potentially harmful, social decisions
people have made because gaming takes priority above all else. One such
story was about a man who installed an online gaming program onto his
laptop so he could play at work, even though he knew that getting caught
would mean getting fired.1 Yet another told of a wife whose husband had
begun playing "all the time because he said it took his mind off his
problems.

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It's not just neglect that costs addicted gamers their relationships. Some of
them talk so much about their game of choice to the exclusion of
everything else that people no longer want to be around them. They can't,
or won't, engage in real world conversations or be a source of support or
encouragement to friends and family. Because their friends talk about other
things, they begin to feel left out, which in turn causes them to feel irritated
or offended. It doesn't occur to them that they've chosen to be left out by
devoting all their time to gaming.
Some of the physical consequences of video game addiction can lead to
social consequences as well. For instance, an addicted gamer who loses
sleep because he's playing so much simply doesn't have the energy to invest
in relationships. Lack of sleep may also make him irritable and difficult to
be around.
The lack of social interaction that results from obsessive gaming can have
long-term social consequences. An addicted teenager won't develop effective
social skills, which will hinder his ability to develop and maintain healthy
relationships in college and beyond. Suddenly, he's 21 but has the social
skills of a 15-year-old. He doesn't know how to make friends, talk to girls, or
just "hang out and enjoy people's company. The social awkwardness
created by the isolationism of gaming addiction, unfortunately, feeds the
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addiction. The gaming addict will likely retreat back to his online world
where relationships are easier and already waiting for him.
Gaming addiction is serious. Though there still is much debate about
whether it is a diagnosable disorder, there is clearly a segment of our society
for whom gaming is more than just a casual pastime. These people need
friends and family members who care enough to intervene and try to help
them break the addictive cycle.

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Treatment Options for Video Game Addicts


An addiction to video games or computer games should be treated in much
the same way as any other addiction. Like other addicts, gamers often are
trying to escape problems in their lives. Video and computer games offer a
particularly appealing escape to socially maladjusted teenagers, most often
boys, who find it intoxicating to become immersed in a world completely
under their control.
When they play, their brains produce endorphins, giving them a high
similar to that experienced by gamblers or drug addicts. Gamers responses
to questions even mirror those of alcoholics and gamblers when asked about
use, said one addiction counselor.
But there is another very real challenge when quitting an activity that
occupies all of your free time and involves pretty much everyone in your
social network. Kids who are addicted to virtual reality have lost, or may
never have had, the ability to comfortably communicate with people face to
face. Theyve spent all of their time interacting in a virtual world and are
extremely uncomfortable when dealing with real people in real time. In an
online world, there is time to edit what you say. Theres also very little risk

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when the person you are talking with is in a different time zone, let alone a
different country.
Shy or socially awkward kids are at greater risk of video game addiction
than children who compete in sports or participate in group activities like
afterschool clubs. Take away their computer or their game console and how
will they spend their time? Helping them change will likely require some
outside help. They need to build confidence in order to feel comfortable in
the real world.
As anyone who has quit smoking or been on a diet knows, it is much harder
to quit when the object of your addiction is always in your face and when
everyone you know is participating in it. Its likely that a child addicted to
computer games also has to use the computer for schoolwork. And their
friends are likely all gamers as well. So how do you begin to fight the
addiction?
A therapist or treatment program that specializes in adolescents would be a
first place to start. For example, a summer camp or wilderness program will
get your child out of his normal environment and into a situation where he is
forced to experience reality. His time will be filled with activities that are

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designed to instill confidence, develop healthy passions, and foster social


skills.
Of course, choosing the right program, preferably one that has a therapeutic
element, will be essential. Sending a socially challenged child to a roughand-tumble military or boot camp with highly competitive activities could
do more harm than good. Therapeutic boarding schools and wilderness
camps for teens that specialize in treating addiction and behavioral issues
may be just what your child needs to turn his life around.

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Justification
I selected this topic because gaming addiction is currently on the rise in the
society. It is seen in all age groups from little children to old people all over
the world. People normally get addicted to the MMORPGs (Massively
Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) . I know many people around the
globe who are addicted to games as I am a gamer too.

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Questionnaire
1. Please state the types of online games that you play (you may choose
more than one)?
2. Please provide the name/s of the online game you play?
3. Do you usually play over a LAN outside home (i.e. Cyber Caf, game
shop) or at home over the internet?
4. Please State the Game You Play The Most Often?
5. Do you consider yourself to be addicted to your most frequently
played online game?
6. Please provide the name/s of your most favourite/preferred online
game.
7. How frequently do you spend playing online games?
8. How much time do you spend normally per game session playing the
game without taking a break?
9. How many of those hours are usually spent playing your favourite
online game?
10. Do you prefer playing games to going out?
11. Do you prefer playing games to spending time with friends?
12. Do you prefer playing games to spending time with your family?
13.Do you skip sleep just to finish your game?
14. Do you hold off going to the toilet just to complete a non-competition
game?
15. Do you skip your meals just to finish your game?
16. What attracted you to the game in the first place?
17. Why do you like to play online games?
18. How often do you find that you play a video game longer than you
intended?
19. How happy are you when playing video games?
20. How has video games affected your social life?
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21. How has video games affected your school performance?


22. How has video games affected your physical appearance?

CONCLUSION
Video gaming addiction may be harmful to a person's health and well-being,
however, there are many studies that attribute video games to numerous
positive effects they can have on a person. Increased motor skills,
development of a person's cognitive ability and an outlet for aggression are
just few of those positive effects. There are even video games that promote
health and physical activity by requiring the player to physically move
around the room to play like dance and sport simulators.

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Playing video games can be a healthy hobby for anyone, just as long as they
play in moderation. Look for any of the signs mentioned above to determine
if someone close to you is becoming addicted to video games, and address
the issue before it is too late.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
www.google.com
www.wikipedia.com
www.mmobomb.com
www.symptomfind.com
www.addictionrecov.org
www.techaddiction.ca
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www.gamespot.com
www.nacada.ksu.edu
www.livestrong.com
www.video-game-addiction.org

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