Video game addiction has been recognized by the World Health Organization who estimates that three per cent of gamers will become addicted. (file photo)

Video game addiction has been recognized by the World Health Organization who estimates that three per cent of gamers will become addicted. (file photo)

‘It consumed my life’: Inside the world of gaming addiction

World Health Organization classifies gaming disorder as a mental health condition

Jeff* was 11 years old when he started online video gaming in the mid-1990s, but he never thought the activity would become a problem.

He was wrong.

“I used to say that if I were spending four or five hours a night working on a model train hobby, no one would criticize me, and I was taking a lot of flak just because it was video gaming,” Jeff, 34, said.

“Looking back, I realize that was just rationalizing the behaviour. If you’re doing a hobby, you can stop. I couldn’t.”

Jeff said his real life took on secondary importance.

“I’d be at work and all I could think about was when I could log onto World of Warcraft again. Everything else I was doing seemed like a waste of time.”

Video games are enjoyed by millions of people around the world without any harmful effects. Most players will never have to worry about it becoming a problem.

But for a small number of people, what starts out as a fun hobby becomes a debilitating habit.

Cam Adair founded Game Quitters in 2014 as a support group for gaming addicts, and the group has connected with 75,000 people worldwide. His experience mirrors Jeff’s and he said it’s common to many addicts.

RELATED: B.C. treats mental health and addiction

Adair began playing games when he was nine years old, but by the time he was attending the Hockey Academy in Penticton, he had graduated to online gaming – an activity that took over his life.

“I dropped out of Penticton, never graduated high school, quit hockey … all the while thinking that the gaming world was more important than anything else. I suffered from depression, contemplated suicide, and the only place I found solace was in the games.”

He added that the games are designed to feed that addiction.

“People who are addicted start to identify more with their online persona than with the real world. When they are asked to leave that world, it’s like they’ve experienced a break-up. It can rock their world.”

That experience sounds very familiar to Jeff.

“In the game, I could earn recognition and respect. In the real world I felt anonymous, but when I logged on people would be messaging me and asking for my help. I was seen as a valuable asset … an expert and someone important.”

RELATED: Gaming can destroy lives

The issue is the focus of a new documentary by filmmaker Laura O’Grady, entitled Game Over.

The film recounts Adair’s story and delves into the issue of video game addiction by speaking to those who are trying to beat the condition as well as some success stories of those who have managed to leave gaming.

“About three percent of the gaming population will develop this condition,” O’Grady said.

“The thing we try to get across is that these are great people and it’s really hard to predict who will become addicted. That’s why it’s important for us to be aware of the condition and watch for it and help when it happens.”

In January 2018, the World Health Organization listed gaming addiction as a mental health condition for the first time.

Jeff, who now has three children, the eldest whom is discovering computer games for himself, explained that despite his own negative experiences, in today’s world, it’s impossible to stop children from experiencing online gaming.

“You have to know what’s in the games your kid is playing and be aware of the dangers. These games allow people to create a second life and it’s important that parents make sure that, for their children and for themselves, that second life doesn’t replace your real life.”

*Name has been changed



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dust advisory is in place for Quesnel. Residents are asked to be careful near heavy traffic areas. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel under dust advisory

High levels of dust in the air can be dangerous for people with COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak at the two Coastal GasLink workforce lodges has officially been declared over. (Lakes District News file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Coastal GasLink worksites declared over

In total, 56 cases were associated with the outbreak in the Burns Lake and Nechako LHAs

A tree near the Sword Avenue baseball diamond was felled by high winds. The diamond is planned to be decommissioned by the city of Quesnel. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel planning on shutting down ballfields

City council hopes maximize the usage at West Fraser Timber Park and Barlow Creek

Cookies were available to celebrate the grand opening of the North Cariboo Seniors’ Council in Oct. of 2020. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel seniors’ group to get COVID-19 funding boost

City council approved giving the North Cariboo Seniors Council $100k in provincial grant money

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

Most Read