Millions of people worldwide enjoy video games, a digital pastime that was once relegated to the arena of nerds and geeks but now enjoys widespread prominence in the realm of mainstream entertainment. With countless new choices being released every year for potential consumer play, the gaming industry is going strong and shows no signs of stopping.
But the darker side of video gaming shows that in addition to its controversies relating to its contributions to societal violence and obesity, it is also a product that can be addicting to its users. Although many do enjoy it to a healthy, nondestructive extent, and others even use it as a fun activity options between friends, the danger exists when a participant begins to prefer the electronic universe over the real world, preferring to live vicariously through a fantastical character rather than interacting in the reality environment.This addiction can result in many of the same consequences as other addictions, including social isolation, decline in health (though notably different from the long-term effects of narcotics and alcohol), emotional disorientation, and others.
When video gameplay reaches this point, that it is beginning to not only hinder basic everyday life function but even impact the long-term health of the individual, firm steps must be taken to break the addiction and achieve a healthier lifestyle. Though extreme cases may require professional counseling, group intervention, or other dire measures, there are a few general steps that can effectively serve for many that struggle with video game addiction.
Remove the Temptation
Just as the classic image shows a recovering alcoholic pouring their vice down the drain of the kitchen sink, so too may gamers need to take similar measures, such as locking their systems in a closet with a combination lock that only a family member can open. Aside from that specific example, other actions can be taken in order to make the ever-present console less accessible. It can be kept at a neighbor’s house, have a favorite game hidden, or other, more creative options. Less important than the specific method is the more essential goal: Make video games something that the addict can not immediately, easily gain access to at any moment they need a fix.
Find a Substitute
Just as smokers have gum or other options, so too do video gamers need to find a viable substitute that can replace the void that video games now have left in their day-to-day lives. If it was
a four-hours-a-day habit that was beginning to sap into their productivity, perhaps they need to reduce play to two hours and spend the other two pursuing another, long-neglected hobby. Or they can focus on housework, hygiene, and necessary shopping for a given allotment of time per weeks. Maybe this is the perfect time to catch up on a previous project, discover a new (and healthier, more rewarding) hobby, or catch up on the latest movies. Whatever the case may be, if video gaming has become a poison, than it must be replaced by something less deadly, even if it is a simple step-down opt like television-watching or an admirable pursuit like freelance writing or volunteer work. Again, less important than the specific manner chosen is that something is chosen to take away from the monopolistic block of time that gaming holds. The best option is, assuming the addict is surrounded by a supportive cloud of family and friends, to institute a regular, social gathering through which they can not only find a new source of fun (a viable need for a holistically healthy individual) but also gain valuable social interaction.Seek an Accountability Partner
This can be difficult, but nonetheless is an important, powerful tool in the battle waged against the addiction. Finding an accountability partner means choosing one person, a trusted family member, friend, or appropriate third-party referral, to hold the addict responsible for improved behaviors and accountable for any lapses into the old habit. Their role is not to break down, but, rather, to build up: By being supportive, positive, encouraging, affirming, and doing so through frequent, regular communication, they can be the pillar of strength that the addict needs to lean on before they can become a self-sustaining individual, and now one that no longer needs to cling to the artificial comfort found in video gaming.