Being Too Invested in Video Games: How Much Is Too Much?

video games

It’s no secret that millions of Canadians had to find different ways to stay active even in the pandemic. Since restrictions on actively staying outdoors were implemented, there has been a rise in console and video game sales. Multiplayer games like Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto 5, and even single-player titles became the refuge of many during these trying times.

While playing video games is a safer alternative to meeting with friends and family outdoors, it begs the question of how much is too much gaming. It’s an age-old question that recently gained traction again due to the pandemic’s impact on the video game industry. Loved ones of gamers then start to wonder if they’re letting the people they care about cope with the pandemic or develop an addiction.

Taking Things Into Context

It’s vital to stay stimulated and active, even when people are stuck indoors. Thanks to technology, there are numerous ways to connect with friends and peers. While people prefer simple chatting with friends, others find more excitement playing with people online.

Multiplayer video games provide a platform for people to meet and engage in social connectivity. It’s needed now more than ever since people are restricted from meeting face to face. However, excessive gaming is considered a true healthcare concern. When left unchecked, problematic gaming behaviour can be a severe threat to one’s well being.

Determining Problematic Gaming’s Definition

There has been a longstanding debate if gaming behaviour should be pathologised, especially for people who seemingly spend hours sinking time into their game of choice. The argument of connecting video gaming into a disorder also has substantial implications for the industry and its considerable demographic.

Before defining something as a disease or disorder, clinicians refer to the International Classification of Disease, Eleventh Revision (ICD-11). It’s a system for medical coding arranged by the World Health Organization (WHO) to segment physiological and mental illnesses. The ICD-11 has a classification for a gaming disorder, which refers to persistent gaming behaviour symptomatic of the following:

  • Lack of control over gaming duration
  • Increased priority to gaming over other activities and social functions
  • Escalation of gaming habits despite negative consequences
  • Impairment of social responsibilities in personal, educational, and occupational roles
  • Consistent or recurring gaming habits for at least 12 months

On the other hand, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th edition (DSM-5) has a different set of symptoms in mind. Listed below are clinically significant impairments the DSM-5 considers before diagnosing problematic gaming a disorder:

  • Withdrawal symptoms upon taking away gaming (This includes sadness, irritability, and anxiety)
  • Increased tolerance to maintain gaming habits
  • Inability to reduce gaming sessions or unsuccessful attempts at quitting
  • Loss of interest in other previously enjoyed activities
  • Gaming as an escapist agenda to relieve negative moods

Providing Solutions to Problematic Gaming

Whether it’s classified as a disorder or not, problematic gaming can be a considerable inconvenience to someone’s wellness. Since there’s no direct cure to letting go of a habit, it’s important to consider alternative behavioural solutions.

Setting limits on gaming time can be one way to prevent gaming addiction. It’s also essential to receive an outsider’s perspective to share if a person’s gaming behaviour affects a person’s social responsibilities and relationships. Another potential solution is to take a digital detox gradually to reintroduce other life activities to a gamer’s life.


It’s always important to remember the root cause of a person’s habits, even before it becomes an addiction. Since problematic gaming isn’t a physiological illness, it’s vital to understand and treat a person’s headspace. Thankfully, receiving help for this condition is possible through psychotherapy.

Overcoming harmful behaviour is difficult to handle by yourself. This is why it’s vital to consult with experts who can guide you in the right direction. If you need counselling services in Cambridge, Ontario for your or your loved one’s gaming addiction, contact our team at Chettiar Counselling and Associates today.