Are Video Game Addictions Becoming a Bigger Problem?

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At the peak of his addiction, Daniel was playing EverQuest 15 hours a day. He would sneak out of bed at 2 AM to game and sneak back in before his mother woke him up so he could tell her he was sick. He would then stay home and play some more. His perfect attendance record dropped to 45% by the end of what would be equivalent to his senior year of high school. Daniel recounted his story to Tom Meltzer, fellow video game addict and Guardian writer.

Playing for 20 hours to finish a game might seem like a typical weekend activity for some people, but when gaming starts preventing people from going to school and work it becomes a concern. The problem of being addicted to gaming isn’t unique to just these two men: A primary school teach who surveyed his class of 10 to 11- year olds found out that 75% of them played games every night for four or five hours, with some saying they stayed up until 4 AM to continue gaming. Over a third woke up just to play in the mornings as well. Therapist Steve Pope told BBC Radio 5 Live that two hours of gaming was similar to doing a line of cocaine due to the high it produces in the brain.

The number of people hooked on video games has become a concern to medical officials, with some estimating the number could be as high as eight percent of all gamers. Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants started a video game addition clinic in Amsterdam to deal with the increasingly prevalent problem, and Broadway Lodge became the first UK clinic to treat the affliction two years ago. For some, though it’s too late: There have been several cases of people dying at the computer or controller because they forget to eat or hydrate during their marathon stretches of playing a game.

While playing games has some positive benefits including increased exercise and improvement in the behavior of patients diagnosed with ADHD, too much of a good thing is always bad – even when it seems just like harmless fun.

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