Is Gaming Addiction a Thing (And Why We Can’t Decide)

Whether or not video games can lead to an addiction has always been a hot button topic. There have been countless studies attempting to prove either side of the argument, and yet it still seems that there is no clear answer. The World Health Organization, which is an organization run by the United Nations, has officially declared that “gaming disorder” is a real addiction. It's similar phrasing that's already used to describe people who are addicted to gambling (“gambling disorder”). If this official definition is accepted, then the world over will be more likely to recognize certain gaming behaviors as an addiction.

According to the World Health Organization's definition, gaming disorder is an addictive behavior surrounding gaming. The only way someone could be considered as having gaming disorder is when gaming (how, when, and how long) becomes more important than the rest of their life and daily activities. Many (including the Entertainment Software Association) are disputing the World Health Organizations claims. The ESA says that the World Health Organization should use common sense and look at research that has been done. According to the ESA, gaming is not addicting. To further prove their point, the ESA references sports fans. They say that dedicated gamers are similar to avid sports fans. Just because they enjoy something passionately doesn't mean they are addicted.


I'm certainly not here to tear down the ESA. They are right; gamers are passionate about their hobby of choice and shouldn't be labeled as addicts just for doing what they love. This is true for anyone who is passionate about something, like sports fans, car enthusiasts, knitters. However, there is a massive difference between passionately enjoying something and being addicted. It's clear to me that the World Health Organization recognizes that in their definitions of gaming disorder, but not everyone does.

Let's simplify things here for a minute. Take gaming, take passion, and take hobbies out of equation, then look simply at definitions. What is the definition of “addicted?” It's described as the physical and mental dependance on a substance with the inability to stop without negative consequences. This is describing a thing or an action that must be used or done to keep a person's life continuing without problems. Someone who loves knitting will enjoy doing it, but when they have to go to work or run errands, it won't physically or mentally truly hurt them to stop. The same is true of sports fans or gamers. While we'd rather be gaming, it doesn't mean we can't just leave to go do other things. This does not define being addicted to something.


For an addiction or gaming disorder to happen, a gamer must be unable to perform other tasks. Their gaming time and obsession must interfere with their regular life. This is true of gambling addictions as well. Some people might like playing online poker. But if they're spending every moment of every day doing that and ignoring their family, friends, career, or other responsibilities, then they are addicted. By going off the pure definitions of addiction and being addicted, it's very possible to become addicted to video games, just like anything else in life. I don't personally know any knitting addicts, but by definition, it's possible.

As far as I'm aware, the World Health Organization makes their case very clearly that gaming disorder is when someone's entire life is affected by their inability to stop gaming. Not someone who just loves gaming and would rather do that than clean dishes. So long as those dishes are getting cleaned at some point, then the person is not addicted. It's interesting that the Entertainment Software Association argued with such a clear and concise point. I'll be curious to see how this argument evolves. But for now, as far as my humble opinion is concerned, gaming can be an addiction, but for the vast majority of gamers it is not.

April Marie
April Marie

Contributing Writer
Date: 05/16/2018

blog comments powered by Disqus
"Like" CheatCC on Facebook