When you search ‘game compulsion’ into Google very little comes up.
Search for ‘game addiction’ however and the results are very different.

In an article for WebMD (here) Keith Bakker, director of Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants in Amsterdam says “It’s a clinical impulse control disorder,”. The article then continues to compare it to problem gambling. Nothing more than an addiction to the excellent reward systems games are built on.

But is it that simple?

In the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) online game addiction has made it to the list of new disorders needing more research. An article for Psychology Today writes  “Internet Gaming Disorder has been included among the conditions being considered for future study and possible addition to later DSM editions. At this time, however, video game addiction (GA) is not considered to be a mental disorder.” The article then continues to say, “The motivation for playing also seems to be a factor in addiction.   People who game for fun or socializing are less likely to become addicted than people who are caught up in the need for status or simply to escape from the problems in their lives.  If you’re dealing with real-life failure, escaping from that stress by playing games that give you a sense of victory or control over your life can be a helpful way of coping.   Spending too much time online or “shutting out” the real world with intense gaming can be a different story, though.”

So, with psychology catching up to the addiction issue why is it many gamers, including myself prefer to use the word compulsion?

Compulsion –

  1. The action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.
  2. An irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, esp. against one’s conscious wishes.

Addiction –


The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

You decide, let me know what you think.


4 thoughts on “Compulsion/addiction

  1. I prefer to use the term compulsion over addiction. I find that at certain times I really want to play a video game (like GTA 5 right now ) and it is an urge or could be called a desire. I think about it a lot… play the game a lot and then I finish the game and move on. I can play games for too long. I remember playing oblivion for a few hours and as it was so intense I felt ill afterwards. But I do not think that I am addicted as once I have put the game down or in most cases finished the game I do not think of it again or have any desire to play it again. It’s like watching a movie …I finish it and then I don’t feel like watching it again. This means that I do not become addicted … after finishing GTA5 I will probably pick up a book .. or maybe a tv series instead of gaming and may not play another game until one that looks interesting comes past my attention.

    I game in distinct chunks around my study time (and I do not find that it affects my studies but gives me a way out of stressing about uni). In many ways I treat games in a similar way to books and movies … at times I am feel compulsion to watch other times to read other times to play.

  2. I think I’ve grown in and out of this phase. When I was a kid I was unaware of my obsession with video games but now that I’m older and have to deal with more pressing matters, I try to ration the time I have on video games as much as I can amongst other things. I do agree that gaming compulsion does exist and in some extreme cases may need to rehabilitate certain players but I do believe that this is a phase that comes with the maturity of age.

    I mean 10 minutes ago I was playing a game of League of Legends to pass the time between updating my blog and writing other things. It’s a game I can just spend maybe 30 minutes on to unwind and then go back to writing.

    Regulatory boards instead of discouraging people to play video games, they should actually encourage playing games with good awareness. It’s like people who smoke or other addictive things, wouldn’t you agree?

  3. I am not personally a gamer, though I do know people, like we all do I guess, who game a lot! I think the line between compulsion and addiction is quite thin and only affects a slight percentage of gamers. I think there is a difference between simply really enjoying something and doing it a lot, and being addicted to something. Usually some underlying issue causes addiction, as you mentioned, like anxiety or depression. The act of losing yourself in a virtual realm can seem very attractive to someone suffering these mental illnesses, just like drug or alcohol addiction. I feel sometimes the popularity of gaming and the fact gamers engage a lot is what leads people to think that there is a huge number of people addicted or have some compulsion to play, whereas gamers simply enjoy gaming and aren’t always depressed and trying to escape reality.
    This being said, I do think the rate at which people play can sometimes get out of hand. People need to remember that there is a world outside and to engage in the real world, for their health among other things.

  4. I really appreciate your blog and the time that you take to do these blog posts and the youtube videos, even though I may not wholeheartedly agree with any attempt at not classifying an addiction as addiction. I say that because I honestly feel that the two words, addiction and compulsion, are synonymous with each other. Is it addiction, or is it compulsion? Yes.

    I did a research paper regarding video game addiction, which you can read at my blog,
    I myself am a gamer and have suffered from video game addiction to the point where it almost destroyed my marriage. It was from that experience that led me to choose game addiction as my final English research paper. One thing I learned is that you can spend countless hours playing video games and not be considered an addict. It’s when other aspects of your life (your health, hygiene, relationships, school grades, job performance, etc.) are negatively affected. In addition, another sign of addiction is whether a video game consumes your thoughts.

    Is it considered to be an addiction if you think about playing a game when you get home from school? No. But if you’re constantly thinking about Halo 4 and can’t concentrate on a lecture at school, that’s where you’re experiencing an addictive behavior, or in this case, compulsion, since that seems to be a fitting word.

    Anyway, again, I do appreciate this blog and the information you’ve given. While I still choose to use the word addiction, it’s refreshing to see the point of view of others.

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