Recognizing the Difference Between Gaming Addiction and a Hobby

In the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), Gaming Disorder was defined as an addiction and disease. Since, it’s allegedly been found that this disorder spans the globe, affecting entire families much like a drug addiction or any other addiction-based behavior might. However, that’s not to say that all video game enthusiasts are addicted to their consoles, PCs or phones – some of them are just in it for the fun or stress relief. If you’re concerned about a loved one’s attachment to their technology, the first step you need to take is learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviors when it comes to playing video games.

Leisure Over the Ages

When you begin assessing addictive behaviors, it’s important to realize that nearly every new media format that’s released is subject to scrutiny between generations. For example, when comic books were released, older generations expressed concern that young adults and teens were spending too much time reading up on their favorite colorful heroes. When television was introduced, there was a similar phenomenon. In fact, this judgmental view on new media reaches back to the 18th century and the release of the first novels, which were seen as fanciful and mind-numbing.
With that in mind, take a moment to assess your view on gaming and ensure you’re not part of the generational gap that simply condemns a piece of tech just because it’s new. Again, there’s nothing wrong with playing games until it begins to interfere with other parts of a gamer’s Additionally, consider that addictive behaviors have been exhibited more by sports fans and avid TV viewers (two much more widely-accepted leisure activities that don’t have an addiction named after them) than those accused of addiction to games.

What is Addiction?

At its simplest, addiction can be defined as a behavior which begins to interfere with the growth, development and enjoyment in someone’s life simply because they can’t stop doing that behavior. That means:

  • Loss of employment
  • Loss of friendships and family relationships
  • Lack of personal care/hygiene
  • Missing important social/professional appointments

This should be the first place where you begin assessing for addictive qualities in gaming. Are you or your loved ones forsaking very important things in your life in order to game, or are you just playing excessively when there’s nothing else to be done? Is it getting in the way of the formation of relationships or life progression? If the answers are no, then it’s unlikely a diagnosis of addiction will be applicable.

The Pursuit of Leisure

As human beings, we all want to find something that makes us happy in our day to day lives. Thus, leisure activities exist. Some get their kicks through travel, some enjoy a run, some prefer spending time with pets, some like TV and some like gaming. When people aren’t performing something that’s required of them, they’ll often be found indulging in the luxury of their choice.
Therefore, just because someone is gaming while they’re free of obligations, that doesn’t mean they’re an addict. If that were the case, many, many things would have to be qualified as addictions. All in all, the line between a passionate hobbyist and an addict can be blurry, and it’s best to leave the diagnosis to a professional while the disorder’s presence in the ICD-11 is still under consideration.