Health,  Lifestyle

Are video games addictive? How to stop video game addiction

Love or hate them; video games provide an array of fun ways to pass time and can encourage a dangerous addiction. While multiplayer gaming can be a fun way of socializing with others, it can become a distraction. It can become so distracting that it affects work, self-care, and personal relationships.

Keep reading to learn more about the addictive properties of video games and how you can achieve a healthy balance between playing and living your life.

Video games are designed to be addictive

Video games, especially online games, are generally designed to be addictive. Fortnite is an excellent example, making billions of dollars despite being entirely free to play. This is mainly because of the battle pass, which Fortnite helped popularize among other games.

Whenever games like Fortnite release an update, they have a limited-time battle pass. Battle passes gradually unlock tiers as gamers progress by playing the game and completing challenges. It only fully awards players with all of its content if they spend in-game currency to buy it. This creates artificial scarcity in these items that can no longer be obtained once the battle pass goes away to make way for the next one. This drives gamers to spend their time and money unlocking tiers while they can.


Micro-transactions—in-game purchases using real-life money—are a significant cause of addiction, especially when combined with loot boxes that randomly give players rare loot. This often leads to gamers developing old-fashioned gambling addictions as they keep hitting the button to try and get that golden prize.

Finally, some games may rig the outcomes of matches to encourage longer play sessions. Many Call of Duty players—ranging from casuals, professionals, and streamers—are adamant that their matches are controlled by a skill-based matchmaking system.

Players believe they are being unfairly matched based on their skill level and are given unfair games they are destined to lose. The idea is that this will drive players to play for longer until they are rewarded with a match against less-skilled players for an easy win.

While inconclusive, one study found that longer playing sessions in Call of Duty: Warzone correlated to a higher win ratio. However, the study also found that the number of games played did not impact the win rate at all.

Video games are classified as a behavioural addiction, which is different from the chemical dependencies caused by substance abuse. Games can be just as addicting as drugs, even if the mechanisms behind what makes those things addictive are very different from each other.

Impact of gaming on relationships

As far back as 2009, studies have found a negative correlation between playing video games and its impact on relationships. Young adults who play a lot of video games are more likely to abuse drugs, including alcohol and illegal substances. It has also been found that young women who play games often report feelings of low self-worth.

There are several signs to tell if gaming has become an unhealthy obsession. This includes when someone spends time away from their partner to play games or cancels real-life dates in anticipation of attending in-game events.

Another warning sign can be someone socially withdrawing to spend more time looking at a screen. Excessive gaming can even impact a person’s ability to look after their self-care needs and save money as they spend it all on gaming. Video games have also been found to create tension between gamers and their non-gaming spouse.

How to enjoy video games without crossing over into addiction

Gaming can be a healthy, creative escape, but it can just as easily become a distraction from personal issues someone needs to focus on. It is essential to find a balance between gaming and your personal life.

For example, try involving your friends, family, and significant others in your gaming. Studies have found that couples who game together are more likely to stay together than those who do not. One study found that 76 per cent of couples that play video games together report a positive impact on their marriage.

Video games can also be a good social life line between friends, especially during periods of physical isolation caused by external factors like the COVID-19 pandemic. The long-distance convenience of video games cannot be understated, as it allows people to remotely join the same adventure together from across the world.

It is important to remember that it is not video games themselves that will negatively affect your relationships or self-care needs but rather devoting all your time to them.

Excessive gaming can be mitigated by prioritizing real-life hobbies, social commitments, volunteer work, and sports. Video games can often fit into a busy person’s schedule as a weekend activity.

Someone suffering from gaming addiction may benefit from trying to pick up any new hobby outside of video games. They may also consider seeking professional help if their addiction is causing them to have withdrawal symptoms.

Gaming can be a healthy addition to an individual’s life when it is not at the expense of work or more physical hobbies. Remember to focus on cultivating a healthy balance and use video games to enhance your life, social interactions, and happiness rather than limit them.

About the author

Callum Denault is a fourth year student of journalism at Toronto MU, and a disability self-advocate. In his free time Callum enjoys practicing martial arts including Jiu-Jitsu, playing basketball, and keeping up on the latest science news.

Callum Denault

Callum Denault is a fourth year student of journalism at Toronto MU, and a disability self-advocate. In his free time Callum enjoys practicing martial arts including Jiu-Jitsu, playing basketball, and keeping up on the latest science news.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *