What is Online Video Game Addiction?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is defined as a pattern of gaming behaviour characterised by impaired control over gaming, and increasing priority given to gaming over other activities. Such behaviour ends up taking precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
Gamers exist on a spectrum, from recreational – to at risk – to problematic – to gaming addiction. It is estimated that amongst the billions of gamers, only 3-4 % have an addiction issue. Most gamers who seek treatment fall within the at risk or problematic band. The key difference between a recreational gamer and a problematic gamer lies in the extent of compulsivity of gaming, obsession when not gaming, disengagement from other aspects of life and changes in behaviour.
What Causes Video Gaming Addiction?
The prevalence of hyper-stimulating environments (loud noises, vivid colours, etc) in video games provide rapid dopamine overload. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that signals the anticipation of pleasure, conditioning the brain to actively seek out and repeat the activity. Over time, this creates an increasingly entrenched autonomic pattern of behaviour.
The online world has been artificially constructed to meet human needs that are sometimes not satisfied in the physical world. These can include:
Safe Space – Escape from stress, difficulties, and failures in the physical world
Physiological Needs – Skins, coins, health, energy, immortality
Social Connection – Community and friendship from around the world
Sense of Achievement – Scoreboards, status ranking, measurable progress, and instant rewards
Sense of Purpose – Clear goals and a variable but predictable set of rules, tasks, and outcome
In one research study, the amount of dopamine released while playing video games is similar to what is seen after an intravenous injection of stimulant drugs. The stark contrast between the seemingly “boring” real life environment and in-game is extreme, and this helps explain why someone can be increasingly drawn into the gaming world.
Signs and Symptoms of an Online Gaming Addiction (‘Game’ here includes screen time use)
- Spending a lot of time thinking about games even when you are not playing or planning when to play next.
- Feeling restless, irritable, moody, angry, anxious, bored, or sad when attempting to cut down, stop playing, or when you’re unable to play.
- Feeling the need to play for increasing amounts of time, playing more exciting games, or purchasing more powerful equipment to achieve the same level of excitement.
- Feeling the need to cut back on the amount of time spent playing games but have not been able to.
- Losing interest in or reducing participation in other recreational activities (sports, hobbies, meeting with friends) due to gaming.
- Continued gaming despite being aware of negative consequences (e.g., not getting enough sleep, reduced performance at school/work, or neglecting important duties).
- Trying to keep family, friends or others from knowing about how much you game, sometimes turning to deception.
- Gaming as a means of escapism or to relieve uncomfortable feelings such as guilt, anxiety, or depression.
- Risked or lost significant relationships, job, educational or career opportunities due to gaming.
If you have responded ‘yes’ to 5 or more of the above indicators, you are at risk of an online gaming addiction and have gone past recreational gaming.
Indicators of additional risk of gaming addiction
With online gaming’s growing popularity, concerns about gaming addiction are on the rise, especially in Singapore where video games are widely enjoyed. This is why Singapore offers specialised game addiction rehabilitation centres and treatments to support those facing gaming-related challenges, providing a healthier and more balanced gaming experience for individuals in need. Recognising the indicators of gaming addiction is crucial for timely intervention and seeking help.
- General Anxiety
- Explosive Rage
- Stealing to finance behaviour
Additional Data On Gaming Addiction
Did you know that an average person spends almost 7 hours daily online (According to Digital 2021 – Global Overview Report)? Time spent comprises gaming, social media, broadcasts and streaming, music streaming, podcasts, online reading hours, e-shopping, and school/work related activities. Hence, treatment of online gaming addiction should also tackle the trappings of our modern lifestyle, societal and familial norms.
Over two billion individuals worldwide are engaged in playing video games, and this number is projected to exceed three billion by 2023. Currently, approximately 4% of gamers are considered addicted to video gaming. The majority of gamers fall within the age range of 18 to 34, while around 8% of children and adolescents under 18 are potentially addicted to video games globally. Notably, the prevalence of video game addiction among teenagers has increased by 4% since 2007.
Visions by Promises’ Gaming Addiction Assessment Process
At Visions by Promises, our gaming addiction assessment process begins with a comprehensive evaluation to understand the individual’s gaming habits, behaviours, and psychological state. This evaluation includes a thorough review of the individual’s gaming history, frequency, and duration of gaming sessions, as well as any related psychological and emotional factors.
During this phase, specific tests may be conducted to assess the individual’s gaming behaviour patterns. One such test is the “Gaming Addiction Scale,” which helps measure the severity of gaming addiction based on established criteria. Additionally, we may use behavioural observation and interviews to gain insights into the gaming habits and their impact on the individual’s daily life.
Understanding the psychological aspects related to online gaming addiction is crucial for effective treatment. Visions by Promises uses various psychological assessments to evaluate any co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, or attention deficit disorder, which may contribute to gaming addiction.
The impact of gaming addiction on an individual’s social and interpersonal relationships is assessed during this stage. It involves exploring the person’s communication and interaction patterns within their family, friendships, and other social circles.
To gauge the extent of impairment caused by gaming addiction in different areas of life, we conduct a functional assessment. This evaluation examines how gaming has affected the individual’s academic or professional performance, personal responsibilities, and overall functioning.
Individuals struggling with online gaming addiction may also have co-occurring substance or behavioural addictions. Visions by Promises screens for these potential co-occurring addictions to provide comprehensive treatment.
Aftercare Services at Visions by Promises
At Visions by Promises, we understand that the journey to recovery does not end with the completion of a treatment program. Our commitment to our clients extends beyond the initial phase of treatment through our comprehensive aftercare services. After completing the assessment, ongoing support and guidance is offered to help them cope in their daily lives as they undergo treatment. Our aftercare services include personalised relapse prevention planning and access to a network of resources that promote long-term recovery. We strive to ensure that our clients receive the necessary tools and encouragement to sustain lasting positive changes and achieve a fulfilling, addiction-free life.
What Is the Treatment Process of Gaming Addiction Like at Visions by Promises
Treatment for online video game addiction typically starts with an intake assessment, followed by 6 individual and 2 family sessions in the first stage of recovery.
Reach Out to Visions by Promises for Treatment
If individuals in Singapore are struggling with online gaming addiction and seeking assessment or treatment from a game addiction rehabilitation centre, they can easily reach out to Visions by Promises. We have a dedicated team of professionals specialising in gaming addiction treatment, ready to provide compassionate and personalised care. To begin the process, individuals can contact us through our website or helpline, where our intake coordinators will guide them through the initial steps. We offer a confidential and supportive environment, ensuring that individuals feel comfortable and understood as they take the first step towards healing and recovery from online gaming addiction.
1. The Intake Assessment (Usually a 1-hour session)
The clinician will take a thorough history of the presenting issues and relevant family history. Depending on circumstances, the individual and family may be interviewed separately or together. At the end of the assessment, the clinician will discuss with the individual/family on the next steps, providing referrals if needed.
2. First Stage of the Recovery Programme (First 2 months) – Counselling & Treatment
At this stage, the therapist will begin counselling to work with the individual and his/her family to identify the underlying factors that have led to, are sustaining, and aggravating the condition. If additional risk factors are present, the therapist will work with the individual to address these risk factors through treatment methods such as psychotherapy or medications as appropriate.
Goals for this stage of recovery include stabilising the individual, developing a customised addiction treatment plan, and learning coping skills to enable the individual and family to re-design their lifestyle.
3. Second Stage of the Recovery Programme (3rd month) – Therapy & Rehabilitation Through Support Groups
It is recommended that individuals who are making progress in their rehabilitation continue to maintain the lifestyle change through group therapy or online support groups.
For individuals with increased risk factors, the therapist will work with the individual to resolve more deep-seated underlying problems. Where appropriate, family therapy is recommended to support the healing process.
After the initial 90 days, individuals and family members are encouraged to continue their efforts of recovery independently and check-in with the therapist only as needed.
At Visions by Promises, our aftercare services are tailored to each individual, encompassing personalised relapse prevention planning and providing access to a network of resources that foster long-term recovery. Our utmost dedication lies in empowering our clients with the essential tools and unwavering support to maintain enduring positive transformations and embrace a fulfilling life free from addiction.
The Importance Of Patience & Dedication For Treatment
Changing ingrained behaviours takes effort and patience from both the individual and the family. New thought processes and behaviours take time to become routine and they must be applied consistently to be effective for long-term change.
Over time, the old neural pathways that were once active due to dopamine overload will be less powerful. With the reduction in compulsive activity, and the application of healthier coping behaviours, new neural pathways will be formed, enabling the individual to enjoy the freedom from his/her addictive behaviours.
Meet our Gaming Addiction Specialists
Dr Andy Leach
Andy Leach is the Principal Addictions Therapist & Director at Visions, bringing over fifteen years of experience in the fields of addiction and mental health. He holds a Master of Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice from Bath Spa University and a Bachelor of Arts (first class) in English and Creative Writing. Andy’s expertise extends to various certifications, including being a Certified Master Addiction Therapist (APCB) SA201502233TH, an Advanced Practitioner Member of Addiction Professionals: 2407, and an Accredited Practitioner (Level 4S) by the Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore (APACS). Additionally, he is a Certified Member of APACS 050011 and holds a certification in Professional Supervision from ACA & APACS.
With a wide range of specialisations, Andy is well-versed in addressing Substance Use Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder, Gaming Disorder, and Gambling Disorder. He is proficient in conducting both group and individual therapy sessions and has extensive experience in working with families affected by addiction. Prior to joining Visions by Promises, Andy served as Clinical Lead Asia for the Cabin Group, where he established and managed Outpatient Programs in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney, Australia. During his nine-year tenure with the Cabin Group, he has provided therapeutic interventions for various addictions, showcasing his commitment to helping individuals on their journey to recovery.
Dr Juliana Pang
Juliana Pang is an Addictions Therapist specialising in individual and/or couples therapy. She obtained her Master of Counselling from Monash University in Australia and is a Certified Addictions-Informed Mental Health Professional (CAIMHP) accredited by Evergreen Certifications in the United States. Additionally, Juliana is trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples and Relationships, a method developed by Dr. Susan Johnson and Dr. Leslie Greenberg in the 1980s.
Her impressive list of certifications includes a Master in Management from Macquarie University, a Bachelor of Laws from the National University of Singapore, a Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling from The School of Positive Psychology, and being a Certified Practitioner of the Association of Psychotherapists and Counsellors Singapore.
Juliana’s diverse range of specialisations includes Substance Addictions, Behavior Addictions, Partners and Family, providing support to those affected by Addictions, Relapse Prevention, and facilitating Recovery Support Groups.
She holds an International Gaming Disorder Treatment Certificate from Intenta Digital and is an Accredited Associate Partner Trauma Therapist by the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). Juliana is a Registered Counsellor and Clinical Member with the Singapore Association for Counsellors.
With over 20 years of international work experience in Asia, Australia, and Europe, Juliana has acquired valuable expertise in addiction treatment across inpatient and outpatient settings, including a Halfway House setting and Promises Clinic. Her commitment to professional development and her accreditation with various associations in the United States and Singapore demonstrate her dedication to providing exceptional care to her clients.
Dr Munidasa Winslow
Dr Munidasa Winslow serves as a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and CEO. He graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1984, holding a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and a Master of Medicine in Psychiatry earned in 1992.
With an illustrious career, Dr Munidasa Winslow began his journey at the Institute of Mental Health, where he worked in general psychiatry and addiction medicine from 1988. His passion for addiction medicine led to the establishment of the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS), where he played a pioneering role. He later became the chief of the Addiction Medicine Department at IMH before venturing into private practice by founding Promises Pte Ltd.
Dr Winslow’s extensive expertise includes General Psychiatry, Substance Addiction, and specialised treatments for Sex Addiction, Love Addiction, and Pornography Addiction. He also offers Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Treatment and serves in the areas of Child & Adolescent psychiatry and Medico-legal evaluations.
His dedication to research and academia is evident through his numerous publications on general psychology and addiction issues. Dr Winslow continues his pursuit of knowledge through academic appointments at NUHS, ensuring he remains at the forefront of advancements in his field. His commitment to providing top-notch psychiatric care and addiction treatment has earned him recognition as a Certified Master Addiction Counsellor and a Certified Clinical Supervisor.
Frequently Asked Questions About Video Game AddictionTreatment and Rehabilitation in Singapore
Just like any other addiction, the amount of time it takes to recover from online video game addiction varies from person to person. Some people may be able to give up gaming cold turkey, while others may need professional help to break the habit.
However, there are a few factors that can influence the length of time it takes to recover. For instance, if someone has been gaming for a long time, they may have difficulty readjusting to life without it. In addition, people who are socially isolated or have underlying mental health issues may find it harder to quit gaming. However, with diligence, support, and an addiction treatment plan even the most severe cases of video game addiction can be overcome.
At Visions, we want to help you in your journey of recovery, from the first step. We are a trusted treatment and rehabilitation centre in Singapore for all forms of addiction. Not sure if you are at risk of an Addiction Disorder? Take our confidential online assessment to learn more. You can also make an appointment to speak with our professional team.
Online gamers can range from recreational to at risk, problematic and gaming addiction. It is estimated that amongst the billions of gamers, only 3-4 % have an addiction issue. Most gamers who seek treatment fall within the at risk or problematic band. Online gaming addiction is often compared to other types of behavioural addiction, such as gambling. Like these other disorders, gaming addiction is characterised by an inability to control one’s impulses and a preoccupation with the activity to the point where it interferes with other aspects of life.
There’s no easy answer to the question of how many hours of video games is an addiction. It’s different for everyone, and it can depend on a number of factors, including the type of game being played, the person’s mental state, and whether or not they’re able to find balance in their life.
That said, there are some general guidelines that can be useful in determining whether or not someone has an addiction problem and can benefit from treatment. For example, if someone is spending more time playing video games than they are sleeping, eating, or socialising, it’s likely that they’re addicted. Additionally, if they’re missing work or school due to gaming, or if their relationships are suffering as a result of their habit, it’s also a cause for concern. Ultimately, if online gaming is causing problems in someone’s life, it’s important to seek professional help. Only a trained professional can properly assess the situation and make recommendations for addiction treatment.
Visions by Promises addresses gaming addiction in children and adolescents through a personalised and comprehensive treatment approach. They offer specialised therapy tailored to the unique needs of younger individuals, considering their developmental stages and social environments. The treatment may include individual counselling, group therapy, and family involvement to provide support, education, and coping strategies for both the affected individual and their family members.
5. How does Visions by Promises' approach to treating gaming addiction differ from other treatment centres?
Visions by Promises stands out from other treatment centres in Singapore in its approach to gaming addiction by offering a team of specialised gaming addiction therapists with vast experience in addiction medicine and psychiatry. Their comprehensive assessment process helps identify underlying factors contributing to gaming addiction, allowing for targeted treatment plans.
6. What kind of family support or therapy does Visions by Promises provide for families dealing with a member's gaming addiction?
Visions by Promises understands the significant impact gaming addiction can have on families. To support families dealing with a member’s gaming addiction, they offer family therapy and counselling sessions. These sessions aim to foster open communication, improve understanding, and provide tools for coping with the challenges associated with gaming addiction. The involvement of families in the treatment process strengthens the support system and enhances the chances of successful recovery for the affected individual.