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People who play video games to excess run the risk of becoming video game addicts. They become more engaged with playing than with their lives in the real world.
Video game addicts are living with a psychological addiction to playing. This form of addiction is not currently included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) due to a lack of research and evidence indicating that it is a disorder. If it is officially recognized as a psychological disorder, it will likely be placed in the same category as gambling addiction - a disorder involving a lack of impulse control
Signs that a person has become a video game addict include:
The video game addict may start off playing for fun, but get "hooked" on the fact that video games are designed to give players a series of rewards for reaching certain levels while playing. The person keeps playing in order to keep getting this payoff. The video games also allow players to develop relationships with other players, and the video game addict may find these virtual relationships more rewarding than those that take place outside of the game.
When a person is ready to quit playing video games, they need to find a therapist who is experienced in dealing with this type of addiction. Like treatment for food or sex addiction, therapy starts with a period of abstinence and then learning how to use computers in a more appropriate manner, without spending an excessive amount of time playing games. Sharing experiences and interacting with other video game addicts could also be an essential part of the recovery process.
With appropriate help and support, a video game addict can learn to stop playing games. It would be unrealistic to expect them to be able to stay away from computers entirely, since they are such a big part of our lives. For example, there are many jobs that require computer use to a certain extent, but the video game addict can learn to limit their use to other applications without starting to play again. Support groups or a 12-step recovery program like Online Gamers Anonymous
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