Gaming and technology have both been found to have an addictive appeal to certain people. Put together, in cases such as video games and online gaming, the combination is overwhelmingly addictive. Beginning with the generation that was first introduced to video games, digital gaming has infiltrated our culture at a very deep level. Because the gaming industry is so huge in modern times, video games and online games have reached unprecedented levels of artistry, complexity and popularity. However, labeling digital games as addictive seemed like a stretch until recent studies on the brain under the influence of video games were released.
Dopamine is the substance the brain produces when it is having a pleasurable experience. We all encounter substances, activities and behaviors that create dopamine within the brain, however, some of us produce much more dopamine than others. Those who have to work harder to produce dopamine often earn themselves the title of “addict” because they seek pleasurable experiences in excess. Video games qualify as a pleasurable experience. People who play them regularly describe them as a stress release and a fun hobby. Surprisingly, it has been found that people who overuse video games are achieving the same levels of dopamine as people who overuse alcohol or sex. This constitutes video games as a legitimate addiction.
Legitimate addictions require legitimate treatment. Often times, rather than simply treating a gaming addiction, a rehab center or addiction treatment facility will treat gaming, gambling, internet and technology addictions together because they are very similar in nature. There is still much to learn about digital gaming addiction, and its qualifiers are still changing and morphing. But we do know that online and video gaming can have similar negative effects on a person’s life as a more threatening addiction does, such as drugs and alcohol. The addict focuses on gaming so singularly that the quality of their personal relationships, job or school performance and physical health begins to decline. Video game addiction is not a laughing matter. If you or someone you love is addicted to digital gaming, seek help before the problem increases.