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Video gaming addiction


The concept of “video gaming addiction” has received significant clinical as well as public attention in recent years. This increase in interest followed the publications of the psychiatric diagnoses “Internet Gaming Disorder” by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013 and “Gaming Disorder” by the World Health Organisation in 2019.

It is important to note that these new psychiatric disorders for video gaming addiction have received significant criticism from within the research community. Many have argued that these new classifications are unable to confidently separate problematic from highly engaged gaming in their criteria, increasing the risk of misdiagnosis as well as stigmatising normal gaming behaviour. Others have argued that Internet Gaming Disorder and Gaming Disorder are founded upon a weak evidence base, appear rushed and fuelled by the moral panic currently surrounding video gaming.

Although many are critical of these newly constructed psychiatric diagnoses, there is a broad consensus that it is possible develop a problematic relationship with video gaming. However, whether individual practitioners understand this behaviour as an addiction to video games or a symptom of an underlying problem, will impact on how they approach this issue in therapy.

Video gaming addiction

As a practitioner, I understand problematic video gaming as a symptom of an underlying problem that can be addressed and managed through therapy.


Such underlying problems can vary significantly between individuals, but common issues include depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, difficulties at work or school and lacking motivation, meaning or purpose in life.

These underlying conditions could also express themselves in other behaviours that can become detrimental to the individual, including problematic engagement with

  • Alcohol

  • Substance use

  • Food (junk and comfort foods)

  • Sex

  • Pornography

  • Gambling

  • Exercise (compulsive)

  • Shopping/spending money  



Failing to identify and adequately address the underlying cause(s) of problematic video gaming could lead to underlying problems manifesting themselves in new ways down the line, if not through a “relapse” into problematic video gaming.

Read more about how I work with problematic video gaming in therapy here.

Video gaming addiction
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