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Information about problem gaming

What is problem gaming?

Problem gaming, also known as compulsive gaming, video game addiction or gaming disorder, is defined as:

A pattern persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by 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, and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.(ICD-10).

In the psychiatric diagnosis manual DSM-5, gaming addiction is classified as a “Condition for Further Study”.

Signs of problem gaming include the following:

You lost control, track of time and find it impossible to quit. You get angry, frustrated and restless when you are prevented from gaming. You are unable to limit the amount of time you play video games, even when you have other things planned. You isolate yourself and no longer spend time with your friends or participate in other activities. You deny that you have a problem.

How can problem gaming affect you mentally, physically and socially?

Mentally and physically

Problem gaming can lead to painful and difficult thoughts and feelings. Many people feel ashamed and guilty, making them keep their problems to themselves. The fear of other people discovering their gaming, fear of losing important relationships, financial difficulties and social isolation may feel overwhelming and can even lead to depression or anxiety. This may manifest itself in the form of an inner turmoil, restlessness, heart palpitations, sleeping difficulties and an inability to remain calm and/or calm down. You may also feel powerless, a sense of hopelessness and an inability to feel happy.

Inactivity, irregular eating patterns, a lack of sleep or irregular sleeping patterns may arise from problem gaming and a lack of mental well-being. This can have an exacerbating effect to the extent that it can end up having an impact on your physical health.

Collectively, these issues make it difficult to see solutions and take the practical steps needed to successfully gain control over your problems. It is important to remember that depression is a temporary condition, which affects your judgement. Reach out for help. A good first step is to confide in someone you trust.


Problem gaming can have social consequences related to a person’s job or studies. It can have a negative impact on interpersonal relationships and social circles and in some cases lead to social isolation. Most people who have developed a gaming addiction have been playing in secret, often over an extended period, without their friends and family realising what has been going on. The thought of revealing the extent of your problems with your friends and family is associated with fear, e.g. the fear of rejection. However, the vast majority of people find that their family becomes a positive and important source of support once they are made aware of the problems.

Gaming problems: Some facts

  • Playing video games excessively can lead to poor academic performance, work-related problems and conflicts with friends and family.
  • People whose gaming habits are problematic (problem gamers) or who are addicted to video games are more likely to experience health problems such as headache, back pain, insomnia, restlessness and depression.
  • In some cases, playing video games excessively can be a symptom of other mental disorders.
  • 2.8% of people who play video games are categorised as problem gamers.
  • 0.5% are categorised as video game addicts.
  • Younger gamers have a higher risk of being problem gamers than older gamers.
  • It is more often men who have problems with video gaming than women.