Characteristics of excessive computer and online gaming

According to current research, between 3-10% of users show a problematic gaming behaviour. However, it is not yet completely clear whether excessive gaming is an addiction, therefore an independent disorder or whether it is a symptom of different psychiatric disorders (e.g. anxiety disorder, depression). At the moment excessive online and computer gaming is not recognized as an independent disorder.

How to detect a problematic gaming behaviour?

A problematic gaming behaviour has some overlapping criterions with addictive disorders. For example, affected persons report that they can not control, restrict or give up their behaviour, even if they have serious negative consequences in all areas of life (family, education, occupation, social relations). In contrast to addictive disorders, however, there are usually no visible (physical) changes that indicate a problematic gaming behaviour.

Problematic gaming behaviour manifests in (creeping) changes in the behaviour and the emotions of the persons concerned. The most important references to a problematic gaming behaviour are:

The person concerned ...

  • stops to pursue other activities (except computer games) that have been enjoyed before
  • neglects personal, professional and family responsibilities (e.g. absence / arrival at work / school)
  • changes sleep, eating or sexual habits
  • neglects the outward appearance
  • is constantly engaged with the computer game (even if he / she is not playing)
  • withdraws from family and friends
  • seems to be absent or has difficulty on concentrating
  • mood changes or sudden outbursts of rage (especially when the game is interrupted)
  • suffers from boredom or restlessness
  • seems depressed, anxious or worried