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Experts Want Video Game Addiction Added to Mental Health Manual As Gaming Becomes Serious Obsession for Some


In May, a new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is scheduled to be released, and experts hope that it will recognize video game addiction. Hilarie Cash runs Seattle-based Restart, one of the few rehab centers that treat internet and video-game addiction in North America. According to Cash, “People’s lives completely fall apart, and there are people who die from it.” (CBC News, 2013) Though these extreme cases are a rarity, cash says that gaming addiction is becoming more common.

The fifth edition of the DSM is not likely to acknowledge video games as its own separate disorder or addiction, perhaps since it can be seen as an impulse control disorder which can be symptomatic of many other mental problems. Unlike with substance abuse, the physiological effects of this type of addiction can be hard to determine. It helps to look at it in the same light as gambling addiction, which releases dopamine in the brain, research has suggested. Cash says, “Most people know that gambling can become, can develop into a serious addiction, so it’s like that.” She also says games that feature a social component where players can interact or compete with others in a virtual world have the highest potential for addiction.

18 year-old Christian Velasquez from Winnipeg, Manitoba has struggled with video game addiction, which began when he got his Nintendo at a young age. “It’s rewarding, right? You get this pump and then it fades and you miss it and you want it back,” Velasquez describes the cycle of his addiction. When Velasquez found online gaming he achieved major successes, and promptly was sponsored by a video game company by age 12. At the peak of his addiction, he was gaming six to ten hours a day. He began to neglect his school work and started replacing his real-life friends with those he gamed with online. “Even if you don’t want to play, you feel a responsibility to go online, it’s like a community.” While these games can offer a means to escape, addicts may begin to prefer their virtual persona and successes to real life, leading to a neglect of basic human needs.

Video game addiction can also lead to health problems, and in rare cases death. Deaths have been reported due to sleep deprivation, blood clots, and heart attacks while gaming. In July of 2012, a Taiwanese teenager died after playing the game “Diablo 3” for 40 hours straight without eating or sleeping. The cause of death was suspected to be a fatal blood clot, due to the extended time seated. These stories are not uncommon. In February of the same year, a man died from a suspected heart attack after playing League of Legends for 23 hours non-stop. Police found the 23-year-old gamer slumped in his chair in a corner of an internet cafe in Taipei, Taiwan. According to reports, his hands remained stretched out toward the keyboard when his body was discovered. (Rudd, 2012)

Though these may be extreme cases, video game addiction should not be taken lightly. Just like a substance addiction, it can destroy your relationships, your health, and cause cravings or obsession. Gaming addicts medicate their feelings just like an alcoholic may drink: to feel better, to forget, to distract themselves. Furthermore, if their videogames are taken away, they may become extremely agitated or irritable due to their dependency. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these symptoms, such as playing or indulging for increasing amounts of time, “binges,” please seek the help of a trained professional or counselor.



CBC News. (2013, April 1). Behind the screen: A look at gaming addiction and luring. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from CBC News:

CBC News. (2013, April 2). Experts want gaming addiction on disorder manual. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from CBC:

Rudd, A. (2012, July 18). Diablo death: Teenager dies after playing video game for 40 hours without eating or sleeping . Retrieved April 3, 2013, from Mirror Online:

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Written by

A staff writer here at T4A, Roscoe enjoys investigating and writing on a variety of topics concerning addiction and mental health. His articles cover everything from the latest news stories to his own experiences with addiction and/or mental illness. He is a recovering alcoholic from New York, NY who is grateful not only to be sober, but also to have a life back. His interests include reading, writing, running, and anything involving the outdoors. Now that he is sober, he hopes to graduate college in the next few years with a degree in Business. He strives daily maintain a positive attitude and to work on himself; to make up for all of his past wrongdoings, and to give back by helping those who are struggling. Roscoe cherishes the opportunity to share his thoughts and ideas through the T4A blog, and welcomes any sort of feedback from readers!

Filed under: Addiction, Conditions and Disorders · Tags: Addiction, alcoholic, binge, blood clot, brain, Cravings, death, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, disorder, dopamine, DSM, DSM-5, friends, gambling addiction, health, obsessions, rehab, relationships, school, substance abuse, substance addiction, video game addiction

  • Cooper Pie

    I agree that video games could very well be a mental health problem and addiction. Because I think that my brother is starting to become addicted to video games. I’m going to have to get him addicted to something better than video games. is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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