What is Game Compulsion and what can be done about it?

If you’re reading this then I’m sure you’ll agree that gaming is an outstanding gift to the universe.
However, the sad reality is that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. If gaming starts to affect your everyday life then you may be showing signs of game addiction.

Game addiction (also referred to as game compulsion) is when a person withdraws themselves from real life in favour of virtual realities. There are a vast number of reasons why this behaviour occurs. The common misconception about people who have game compulsion is that they are lazy or too stupid to get ahead in the real world. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.

My belief is that game compulsion can develop from any number of mental issues. For me personally, my excessive love for gaming comes from the fact that my real life has been a struggle since the day I was born. I was born with a medical condition that affects me on a daily basis. Because of this, gaming has become an outlet for me to live voraciously through without having to face the anxieties of my condition.

For others, it could be as simple as loving the sense of reward that games can provide.
Throughout our educational and professional careers, we’re constantly working towards good grades, promotions, milestones and advancements. Gaming is something that feeds our sense of accomplishment continuously; to the point that it becomes linked with our dopamine.

With the rise of MMOs and online based games, these issues have become more prevalent. We’re now able to build bonds and friendships with other humans through our games. It then becomes easier to spend entire days grinding with your online companions in your video games. If your friends are also gaming online all day then it will convince you that what you’re doing isn’t so wrong.

It is important to remember that gaming is our hobby, and just like every hobby, we need to limit the amount of time we spend with it so that we have balance in our lives. If we lose ourselves to our hobby, eventually we’ll lose everything around us; this includes our relationships, friendships, jobs and possibly even our homes.

What can be done about game compulsion?

Dealing with game compulsion can be difficult; especially when you consider that there may be people who aren’t even aware that they suffer from it. Just like other forms of addiction, the first step to changing is to admit that you have a problem. This moment will come when you’re in danger of losing people or tangibles that you value in your real life.

Once you have reached the realisation, here’s a few ways to help you deal with your compulsion.

  • Identify those who care about you – Whether you live alone or not, it’s likely that you have some form of friends or family in your life if you’re fortunate enough to play games all day.
    Your goal should be to pay more attention to those who care about you and vice-versa.

    Ensure that you are showing appreciation for these people that continue to stick by you and you’ll know when it’s time to turn your attention away from gaming and focus it elsewhere.
  • Talk about it and develop a support system – If your level of game addiction is reaching dangerous levels, you should let someone close to you know how you feel about it. Once you create the dialogue with someone it becomes real, and then these people will be open
    to guiding you on the right path.
  • Schedule gaming around your life and not the other way around – Going cold turkey on your habit is not the solution here. Nobody says you should give up on gaming completely if it means something to you; but you should definitely moderate the amount of time you
    spend on it so that you’re not putting your own life second. Plan out when you’re going to play and make sure that you’re doing productive things outside of your gaming hours.
  • Seek other hobbies – One of the ways that I cut down my gaming hours was by reading and blogging. These other hobbies gave me more areas to channel my passion and in turn they added more value to my life. Of course, I’ll never give up on gaming, but having other
    passions gives you more balance in life.
  • Consider therapy – Sometimes our addictions are more deep rooted and related to other things that plague our minds. There can be a negative stigma attached to therapy, but ultimately it’s something that helps us understand ourselves. Gaining this understanding will
    help to improve your lifestyle moving forward.
  • Apply your gaming skills to the real world – A misconception about gaming is that it’s a pointless hobby that adds no value to your life. It should be understood that while game compulsion may affect your life, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the games aren’t
    teaching you things that can be applied in life. You can use all of that willpower attached to grinding in your video games and apply it to your real life. For example, gamification is a psychology that comes from gaming and helps to improve people’s lives. I now give myself
    small rewards for completing big tasks on a weekly basis, and this keeps me motivated just as much as clearing my quest log in my favourite role-playing games.

When it comes to game compulsion, I believe that there are more solutions available to us than other severe forms of addiction. Life will always be waiting to accept us back whenever we reach the depths virtual cocoons. Also, the physical effects of game addiction usually aren’t as intense as a drug addiction (for example).

To reiterate, the first step to overcoming this issue is the realisation that it is affecting our lives.
Once this happens, it’s just a case of putting the solutions listed above into practice.
If this is something affecting you then we’re also open to having a discussion about it. Be sure to leave us your comments!

Gary

References

Game Addiction – II: How to Defeat Game Compulsion – Extra Credits
How to Overcome Video Game AddictionLevel skip.com
Addiction – Checkpoint