An Addiction Psychiatrist Answered Reddit’s Questions About Gaming

The internet was ablaze this year when it was announced that the NHS would recognise gaming addiction as a clinical disease, and the issue has been hotly debated ever since. 

A Reddit user by the name of KAtusm recently answered some burning questions from the community on its r/IAmA forum. 

KAtusm (real name Alok Kanojia) writes: “I almost failed out of college due to excessive video gaming, and after spending some time studying meditation & Eastern medicine, eventually ended up training to be a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, where I now serve as faculty. 

“Throughout my professional training, I was surprised by the absence of training in video game addiction. Three years ago, I started spending nights and weekends trying to help gamers gain control of their lives. 

“I now work in the Addiction division of McLean Hospital, the #1 Psychiatric Hospital according to US News and World report (Source). 

“In my free time, I try to help gamers move from problematic gaming to a balanced life where they are moving towards their goals, but still having fun playing games (if that’s what they want).” 

Kanojia states that there’s believed to be between 10-30 million people in the US alone who meet the criteria for video game addiction. 

One Reddit user asked the question that’s on everyone’s mind: “How do you distinguish between someone who is addicted to video games and someone who plays them a lot because they really enjoy them?” 

Kanojia replied: “The main difference is whether they interfere with your function or goals in life. I have friends who make seven figures and play 40 hours of games per week. They’re happy with where they are. 

“I have other friends who play games for 60 hours a week, live in their parents’ basement, and have big hopes and dreams, but never move towards them in a substantial way. 

“If your life isn’t going in the direction that you want, and you’re playing a ton of games, that’s a problem.” 

Another user joined the debate, sharing a past experience of addition issues. Sparcrypt wrote: “As someone who was most definitely suffering from addiction to certain games many years ago before it was really recognised, for me it was like this. 

“Have a very important, stressful thing I need to do > ignore it and play game because it’s an escape/stress relief > associate game with happy fun times > life deteriorates because I’m not doing anything but playing game > escape from this fact by playing more of game. 

“The difference was that my life didn’t suck and therefore I played a lot of games, my life was actively getting worse because I was ignoring responsibilities/not taking any steps to fix things in life… because I was gaming instead.” 

You can read the Reddit thread for yourself right here. What does ‘gaming addiction’ mean to you?