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Group Information

Name: After This Level!

Members: Sean Bromley Elliot Chae Louisa Vuong

Initial Project Statement

Our group has decided to focus our term project on gaming addiction. As the use and importance of computers, including the internet, has greatly risen over the years, many individuals in our society have become overly addicted to gaming. These individuals suffer from spending prolonged hours in front of the computer as well as feeling enslaved or compelled to continue playing the entertaining applications. Some people have referred to this subject as “a highly addictive drug”, associating it with other controversial issues such as alcohol and narcotics. Gaming addiction is a cause for concern to many people, especially to youths who are much more vulnerable to this “drug”. Common problems include: social isolation, obesity, eye strain, development of insomnia and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The youth of today represent the future of our society; thus we hope to raise awareness to as many students as possible through examining and creating a Wikipedia webpage detailing the causes, symptoms and treatments of gaming addiction.



The matter of computer gaming addiction is a serious matter and it is crucial that society raises awareness as everyone is vulnerable. Previously, the council of Science and Public of the American Medical Association (AMA) requested that computer gaming be considered as a psychiatric disorder. [1] Some people have classified this subject as a non substance abuse, similar to gambling, in which pathological players give up everything in order to continue the addiction. In addition, they are difficult to give up as they fulfill psychological needs. [7] Besides the obvious, one-dimensional reasons why individuals engage in gaming, which includes its unlimited availability and freedom, entertainment satisfaction, and therapeutic relief of stress and pressure from reality, there is a deeper and perhaps darker cause of gaming addiction. [8]


Psychologically, computer gaming, more specifically Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, create for the player a “fair” virtual reality. Their success and progress in the game cannot be determined by their age, education level or social background; thus, the gamer feels a sense of equality of opportunity. This is in contrast to reality, which is filled with unjust occurrences; therefore, they work harder and assign more time to succeed in the game.


The players are given a series of tasks they must perform in order to gain rewards, the greater the task, the greater the reward. [2] Specializing in treating teenagers with disorders, Dr. Woog describes that certain games are designed to be addictive and says, “You do something and get a reward. With enough rewards, you start to feel good about yourself. As well, you’re part of a team of people on a common quest.” [3] Dr. Matthias Koepp, part of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre and Division of Neuroscience and Faculty of Medicine, suggests that gamers experience a euphoria stimulated by dopamine. [4] As they accomplish a task, they receive satisfaction or pleasure; and in an interesting note, a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that men are more susceptible to seeking rewarding addictions than women due to their territorial nature. [5]

Substituting Traditional Way of Satisfying Social Needs

It has been suggested that gamers interact with peers online because they receive fulfillment from achievements that cannot be attained in reality. [4] They seek a highly competitive and social environment that they may not be exposed to in real life; thus, they seek an escape. [2][6] Individuals who are more susceptible to computer gaming addiction are socially challenged, have high levels of emotional loneliness and are more difficult to interact with in person. Due to these issues, they can often find themselves having more control over social relationships in virtual reality and attempt to fill that void. [2][9] As some of these people cannot do as well in reality, the develop a mental dependence and irrepressible cravings. Dr. Michael Brody, head of the TV and media committee at American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, suggested that this addiction could be a symptom of other issues such as depression or social anxieties. Psychotherapist Shavaun Scott theorizes that gaming addicts live two separate lives: primary and secondary. Primary represents reality and secondary symbolizes the virtual world. When they become absorbed by the secondary and begin ignoring the primary, action should be taken to treat the disorder. [5]

Consequences and Effects: What's the Harm?

The addictiveness of online or video gaming impacts gamers, as well as their surroundings, in different levels.

Personal Level

As addicted gamers play for longer periods of time, they generally end up only socializing with their gaming friends. As a result, they neglect communicating with their families and friends and become isolated from society as well as reality. They often feel compelled to stay at home and play games, thus choosing not to go out to socialize. In Japan, these types of people are referred as Otaku [11]. Often, individuals cannot concentrate on the work; students' lives result in lower grades, and students and adults may suffer poor performance at work [13]. Some people lose or choose not go find a job because of this addiction, which results in low income and a lower standard of living. Examples of Symptoms include:

• The Inability to Perform Normal Tasks in Everyday Life

• Losing Control Over Your Life

• The Disruption of Daily Routines and Lifestyles

• Feeling Nervous and Anxious when not Online

• Being Irritable when not Online

• Being Preoccupied by Games when not Playing

• Feeling Intensely Emotional Over Games

• Lying About Video Game Usage

• Developing Fantasies

• Work or School Being Disrupted Due to Gaming

If people are addicted to a game, they experience both mental and physical problems. When an addict falls deeper into the virtual realm, this can have negative side effects on their mental health, such as depression; which they may already suffer from. In addition, gamers may suffer from common addiction symptoms such as dependency. There are many adverse physical effects of developing gaming addiction. People of all ages can suffer from the following physical issues:

• Carpel Tunnel Syndrome

• Sleep Disturbances

• Back and Neck Aches

• Headaches

• Failure to Eat Regularly and Neglecting Proper Nutrition

• Hyper Obesity

• Death

These problems can arise from the repetitive movement of fingers, poor posture, lack of exercise, as well as playing for extreme lengths of time, which also causes exhaustion. [17]

Relationships Level

Gaming addictions can have a major impact on one's family and friends. When addicted gamers replace their normal friends and family with their online friends, it can have detrimental effects on those who have been replaced. For example, they may develop feelings of rejection, depression, and low self-esteem. Parents have compared their child's addiction with heroin addiction, or alcoholism [16][18]. This distance or "wedge" that the addicted child brings into their family and friends can drive them apart from each other, much like drug or gambling addictions do. Gaming addiction is a major concern for parents, as many have brought their children to psychiatrists, who often do not know how to treat this issue. A parent describes her son's addiction: “No one had ever heard of someone getting addicted to X-Box Live,” she said. “They all told me it was a phase and that I should try to limit my son’s game playing. They didn’t understand that I couldn’t. He had lost touch with reality. My son lost interest in everything else. He didn’t want to eat, sleep, or go to school, the game was the only thing that mattered to him. [18]” Parents are significantly concerned for their children's well-being and therefore fear the detrimental effects of playing games.[18]

Treatment: The Cure

Why is it difficult?

Dr. Jerald J. Block, a psychiatrist who specializes in computer compulsions, says "For some people, the Internet and games are an escape. It's a place where they can take anger, frustration and sexual tension and channel it. It can swallow up 30 or 40 hours a week, or more, and stop them from feeling bored and restless." Block also mentions about the difficulty of the diagnosing and providing treatments. This is because many patients have difficulties with their problem, as well as the additional complexities added to the gaming addiction. It is typically intermingled with other underlying issues such as depression, attention deficit disorder, or anxiety. [20].

For treatments, a combination of psychopharmacology, psychotherapy and twelve-step programs are used.

Type of Treatment

Psychopharmacology is the study of drug-induced changes in mood, sensation, thinking, and behavior. Tranquilizers, and antidepressants are popular methods used previously. Naltrexone, a medication that reduces drug and alcohol cravings, may also reduce gaming cravings. This drug must be carefully monitored because of serious potential side effects. [30]

A side effects would include an overdose of a tranquilizer may cause the loss of muscular coordination and slowing of reflexes. In addition, patients can experience hallucinations and with prolonged usage, it lead to drug addiction.

Psychotherapists employ a range of techniques based on experiential relationship building, dialogue, communication and behavior change. They are designed to improve the mental health of a client or patient, as well as improving group relationships. [31]

Twelve Step Program was originally designed for patients with alcohol addiction.

• Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable

• Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

• Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God

• Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

• Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

• Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

• Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings

• Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all

• Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

• Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

• Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out

• Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs [28]

What is the difference between gaming addiction and other addictions?

According to Keith Bakker, director of Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants, the treatments for gaming addiction is similar to the treatments for other addictions, with one crucial difference. People use computers as an important part of everyday life. As a result, the solution does not consist of eliminating the source of the addiction, computers; the cure is absolutely no gaming. Patients must learn to use computers responsibly. As for limiting game time to an hour a day does not solve the issue. Bakker compares the limitation to “an alcoholic saying he’s only going to drink beer.” He also mentions that the hardest part of treating video game addicts would be raising awareness and says, “it’s a little bit more difficult to show somebody they’re in trouble. Nobody’s ever been put in jail for being under the influence of a game.” [26]

Canada and United States

• Center for On-Line Addiction (COLA) (

• A clinic in Bradford PA

• Computer Addiction Services (

• McLean Hospital in Belmont Massachusetts

• Wesson, Nancy Ph.D. (

• A psychologist in Mountain View, California

• Online Gamers Anonymous (

• Non profit organization (Provides Online meeting, message boards and support)


• Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants

• Holland’s first European clinics for gaming addiction



• Government funded boot camp for internet and gaming addictions [22]


• China government set up the limitation for the computer usage in the internet café for teens [27]


• Opened first rehab clinic for teens addicted to video games. (Nov 2008) • Different approach for the treatment including "developing their personalities through involvement in social work and other activities like music, painting, dancing, and sports." [29]

The Quiz: Are You Addicted?

Gaming addiction poster.jpg

The following are a series of questions from the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery website to test if you are possibly affected by computer gaming.

Answer Yes or No

1. Do you need to play online games with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve the desired excitement?

2. Are you preoccupied with gaming (thinking about it when offline, anticipating your next online session)?

3. Have you lied to friends and family members to conceal extent of your online gaming?

4. Do you feel restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop online gaming?

5. Have you made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop online gaming?

6. Do you use gaming as a way of escaping from problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression?

7. Have you jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, or even risked your marriage because of your online gaming habit?

8. Have you jeopardized a job, educational, or career opportunity because of your online gaming habit?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be addicted to gaming.[10]

Examples and Statistics


There are numerous examples of people suffering severe or fatal consequences from video game addiction. A young Swedish boy, age 15, collapsed after playing 24 hours straight of a new world of Warcraft expansion pack. He reportedly suffered from an epileptic seizure [19].

There have been many reports of people dying from prolonged video game playing, either from exhaustion or dehydration. A young man named Brandon Crisp, who disappeared because of video gaming addictions. He was a AAA hockey goalie and a middle school student in Oro-Medonte, a small town outside Barry. When he became addicted to the game, Call of Duty 4, his social circle had shrunk down to just three close friends who also played Call of Duty over the Xbox Live system. When Brandon skipped school to play the game, Steve Crisp, his father threw the Xbox console and Brandon left home. After some time, he was found as dead. [23]

Some other cases of people dying from playing games for excessive periods of time include:

In 2005, South Korean, Lee Seung Seop, died after playing Starcraft for 50 hours non stop. [21]

In 2006, Xu Yan, a man living in Jinzhou China, died from playing online games for 15 days consecutively.


According to a survey released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project last month, 97 per cent of U.S. teens aged 12 to 17 say they regularly "game," whether on a console system, computer, or handheld device.

A larger U.K. study in 2006, of gamers of all ages, concluded that 12 per cent of the 7,000 respondents were unable to live without their games as they were experiencing "cravings, withdrawal symptoms, loss of control and other negative consequences", which are symptoms that are associated with other types of addicts such as alcohol, gambling and drugs.[26]


Similar to gambling, gaming addiction has been described as an impulse control disorder.[15] It essentially is when playing games begins to obstruct an individual's life detrimentally. As a consequence, their family life, as well as social relationships may be disrupted; in addition, school or work performance, hobbies, sports, or clubs may suffer as well. Gaming addiction is mainly associated with Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, Everquest, or Runescape.[14][16]

There are many causes for developing a gaming addiction such as the rewards one gets from playing for extended periods of time, which lead to a heightened sense of pleasure[2][4]. The “equality factor” levels the playing field for all players, in other words, not discriminating against age, sex, gender, religion, etc. and substituting the traditional way of satisfying needs are also causes of this addiction.[2][6]

Gaming addiction negatively impacts the player as well as those around them. There are many adverse physical effects, which can range from back pains to Carpel Tunnel syndrome, and to death. In addition this can damage an addict's mental health as they move further into a virtual reality, and further away from reality. This puts many strains on relationships, including the ones with family and friends. [18][12][17]

There is an issue with diagnosing people as well as providing treatments for them, as it is often involved with other problems such as depression and social anxiety. Combinations of psychopharmacology, psychotherapy and twelve-step programs are a few examples of possible treatments.

Gaming addiction is both a controversial and significant issue. It's causes and detrimental effects on the lives of people can be dangerous to society. It is vital that awareness about this addiction is raised in order for proper treatments and prevention plans to be developed.


Louisa Vuong

[1] Computer Game Addiction (November 16, 2007) Computer Game Addiction.

[2] David Jea, UCLA (November 16, 2007) Virtual Worlds, Real Tasks.

[3] The Australian (November 16, 2007) Study finds computer addiction is linked to impulse control disorder.,20867,20632039-27699,00.html

[4] Paula Bach and Chris Jordan (November 16, 2007) At a Crossroads: Video Game Addiction.

[5] Michelle L. Brandt (November 16, 2007) Standford School of Medicine.

[6] Symantec (November 16,2007) Online Games: Game vs. Addiction.

[7] Ndri (November 16, 2007) Cause and Impact of Video Games Addiction.

[8] Hubpages Inc. (November 16, 2007) The Seriousness of Computer Gaming Addiction.

[9] Marny R. Hauge and Douglas A. Gentile (November 16, 2007) Addiction Among Adolescents.

[10] Center for Internet Addiction Recovery (November 16, 2007) Are you an obsessive online gamer?

[11] De Giffted Artist (November 18, 2007) Addiction on Flickr.

Sean Bromley

[12] (November 17, 2008) Video Game Overuse May Be an Addiction: Expert

[13] LA Times (November 18, 2008) AMA May Identify Excessive Video Game Play As Addiction

[14] Dylan Fergunson Staff (November 17, 2008) World of Warcrack

[15] MCT (November 17, 2008) Study Finds Computer Addiction is Linked to Impulse Control Disorder,20867,20632039-27699,00.html

[16] (November 15, 2008) Video Game Addiction

[17] Computer and Video Game Addiction (November 16, 2008) Computer and Video Game Addiction

[18] Online Gaming Addiction (November 16, 2008) Online Gaming Addiction

[19] Game Addiction (November 16, 2008) Game Addiction

Elliot Chae

[20] Block (November 16,2008) Jerald J Block MD

[21] (November 15,2005) S Korean dies after games session

[22] Bennett. November 19 2008 Koreans try to cure gaming addiction with "Jump Up Internet Rescue School"

[23] Doolitle. (November 15 2008) Thousands mourn Brandon Crisp

[24] Gluck (November 16 2008) South Korea's gaming addicts

[25] Kuo. (November 17 2008) Europe Opens Its First Game Addiction Clinic

[26] Freeman (November 19 2008) Internet addiction treatments

[27] China limits Teenage Internet Gaming" July 17.2007

[28] 12 (november 17 2008) for Sobriety, Strength and Serenity - Home

[29] Gamepolitics (November 18 2008)Vietnam Opens Game Addiction Rehab Clinic GamePolitics

[30] SpringerLink - Journal (November 18 2008) Psychopharmacology

[31] Ontario Society of Psychotherapists (November 18 2008) Psychoterapists