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Young People Are Gaming Themselves to Death – Video Game Addiction


Several recent news articles exist describing video game addicts actually dying from playing days at a time. For example, in 2012, a Taiwan teenager booked a private room in an Internet cafe to play Diablo 3. Three days later, an attendant found the boy slumped over a table in the room. The boy had not eaten for three days. An autopsy discovered the cause of death had been the formation of a blood clot due to sitting for three straight days.

In another instance of extreme video game addiction, a 17 year old boy died after playing an online role-playing game called Defense of the Ancients for 22 straight days. His parents say he only stopped to sleep and eatDoctors think that like the Taiwan boy, this boy may have died from deep vein thrombosis, or a blood clot forming in the legs due to sitting for so long that eventually traveled to his brain.

Mental Disorder

2 people playing video gamesThe World Health Organization includes “gaming disorder” in the edition of the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD). According to the WHO, a diagnosis of gaming disorder includes symptoms such as priority given to video/computer games above all else, inability to control gaming duration and frequency and continued gaming disorder behavior despite accumulation of negative consequences (loss of employment, failing grades)

Alternately, the American Psychiatric Association does not include gaming disorder/addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Psychiatrists concluded that the evidence supporting video game addiction as an official mental disorder was insufficient.


However, the APA has put forth criteria for diagnosing video game and/or Internet gaming disorder that they have proposed for possible inclusion in the next publication of the DSM:

  • A preoccupation with video games. Do you spend hours a day thinking about video games even when you are not playing them?
  • Do you feel anxious, restless, moody, irritable and depressed when you cannot play video games?
  • Do you feel compelled to play video games for longer periods at one time? Do you crave more violent or exciting games?
  • Have you stopped engaging in recreational activities you once enjoyed?
  • Do you continue playing video games even though you aren’t sleeping, missing school or work, spending all your money on video games or arguing about your playing with family and friends?
  • Do you lie about how much time you spend playing video games?

Since video game addiction has not been officially recognized as a mental health disorder by the APA, statistics indicating the prevalence of video or online game addiction in the U.S. is sparse.

One large study published by the academic journal Pediatrics investigated video game playing rates of 3,034 adolescents and children. Researchers found that:

  • Subjects participating in the study played an average of 20 hours per week
  • Nearly 75 percent of American households have someone who plays video games
  • Percentage of adolescents and teens in the study showing symptoms of video game addiction–9%
  • Percentage of study subjects who played at least 50 hours of video games per week–4%

Another study completed by the same researchers found that 8.5% of U.S. citizens between 8 and 18 years old (approximately three million individuals) suffer from varying degrees of video game addiction.

Underlying Causes

Most psychologists believe someone develops an addiction to video games the same way someone becomes addicted to drugs. By activating the brain’s reward system and promoting release of massive amounts of dopamine and serotonin, playing video games consistently “rewards” players by making them feel almost euphoric about winning battles against other players. In addition, the satisfaction and escapism players get by “living” in a make-believe world where anything is possible adds to the “high” or rush of adopting the role of a character who is powerful, respected and omnipotent.

Certain risk factors have been reported as to why some people develop an addiction to video games. These factors include:

  • Being male
  • Having low self-esteem, anxiety and depression
  • Relies on video games to manage moods
  • Holds positive views of their intelligence but negative views of how they handle social situations
  • May have difficulty with empathy and regulating emotions

“Fortnite” – King of Video Game Addiction

Released in 2017, Fortnite® is an online role-playing game that is estimated to have over 200 million players globally. The game involves players engaging in a massive online brawl on an island. The goal is to fight everyone and win until you are the only player left standing. Players can find weapons hidden all over the island such as grenade launchers, traps and rifles. You can also build structures in which to hide and ambush other players. As the brawl progresses, land area shrink until remaining players are forced to fight it out in a constricted space.

Fortnite is considered to be such an extremely addicting online game that there are parent’s guides available online to help them deal with children who are playing Fortnite obsessively.



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