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Video Game Addiction – The Case for Mobile Gaming

The word “addiction” might be a humorous term for some of us. It is even used in romantic occasions as a pick-up line, “I’m so addicted to you,” and to make humor of something funny, “Milk Teas are so addicting.”

In reality, addiction is a complex brain disease that manifests a compulsive action, substance, or abuse which results in a harmful consequence.

But, have you ever heard of “Video Game Addiction” or “Gaming Addiction?” and no, it’s not the type of playing games inside a casino kind of addiction which is called “Gambling Addiction.” It’s different and it matters, more evenly so today.

Video Game Addiction – Definitive Definition

Video game addiction is categorized as an impulse control disorder. It describes video game overuse, pathological or compulsive/excessive use of playing video games regardless of platform and medium of the gaming system. Most importantly, it does not involve any form of an intoxicating substance such as alcohol or drug.

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Fortnite on PC Gaming

In July 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) has included a section in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) about “Gaming Disorder.” The aforementioned section focuses on disorders caused by the addictive nature of excessive playing of video games regardless of system or platform.

The section also states that merely playing video games for long periods of time doesn’t necessarily qualify a person as having an addictive disorder – the behavior has to significantly impair a person’s personal, family, social, or educational life.

Undeniably, video game addiction, as a disorder, has been around since the emerging of various video game consoles, whereas the Magnavox Odyssey as the first gaming console ever made in 1972. However, it took the World Health Organization about 47 years before they recognize gaming addiction as a mental health disorder.

Credits to Newzoo for Providing the Source

We believe that what made the World Health Organization consider this addiction as a disorder is due to the emerging of technology, more specifically, the demand and popularity of mobile gaming in the past recent years and up to this day.

As you can see from the chart provided by Newzoo, Mobile Gaming dominates the market share with over 50% globally. Whereas the rest is shared by PC gaming and console gaming.

Mobile Gaming – The Substantial Contributor

In the past recent years, one platform that really emerged is mobile technology. As the years go by, manufacturers fill up the market with smart technology that’s more advanced and better than the previous years. More specifically, smart devices such as smartphones and tablets.

We’ve now come to the point that our smartphones and tablets can work, function, and provide convenience far more than what we can get from our computers. This is also the sole reason why the market for smartphones and tablets became so big in a matter of years.

Mortal Kombat on Android Smartphone

Far more importantly, such devices are now more capable of handling and performing well with video games.

But how did mobile gaming contributed to video game addiction? The answer is quite simple but let’s first look at the problem. Video games as is are a form of entertainment that lets the players indulge themselves into a fantasy world where it’s fun, free, and it’s a kind of system that cannot be replicated or be done in real life.

In most cases, video games are used as a substance that provides players a form of escape from real life problem momentarily. From that alone, we can already pinpoint what causes video game addiction. Fortunately, the World Health Organization doesn’t define that as the cause of the disorder.

What the organization qualifies as addiction is characterized:

  • impaired control over gaming,
  • increasing priority is given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities,
  • continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences,
  • and significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

So, how does mobile gaming contributes to the problem? The answer is availability, portability, hardware performance, and all the free games that you can get from having a smartphone alone. That equates to free entertainment at the palm of your hands.

Free to Play (F2P) Video Games – The Consequential Structure

One of the things that invite people to play games on the mobile platform is the wide variety of free to play games. As of this writing, the most popular free to play video games on mobile are:

  • Player’s Uknownbattlegroun (PUBG)
  • Fortnite
  • Arena of Valor (AOV)
  • Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (ML)
  • Clash of Clans
  • and many more…

These are free games that are well developed to provide the best gaming experience to any players and this results in a satisfactory experience that then results in a desire to want more or play more. In which, technically, is not a problem or an issue to look at.

This then becomes a cycle and a habit, and it’s similar to other addictions in terms of what it does to your brain. The structure is simple and gives the player a dopamine rush – a sense of feeling good or satisfied.

The Psychology of Game Addiction

Some people debate whether you can actually get addicted to gaming in the first place. According to studies in 2013 that was done in Missouri,

Gamers who are really into getting to the next level or collecting all of the in-game items seem to have unhealthier video-game use. When people talk about games being ‘so addictive,’ usually they’re referring to games like Farmville or Diablo that give players rewards, such as better equipment or stronger characters, as they play. People who are especially motivated by these rewards can find it hard to stop playing. – Joe Hilgard, Department of Psychological Sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science.

Experts and professionals across the world recognize the addiction to be a worldwide concern.

The Author – Suffered and Got Cured

The Author - A Gamer at Heart
The Author – A Gamer at Heart

Yours truly has also been a victim of video game addiction. I’ve suffered from it for years. It also took me years before I realized that I am suffering from this disorder.

Before, I find great joy, happiness, entertainment, and the feel of self-achievement for playing video games. Getting stronger, becoming skillful and good are some of the feats that can get anyone addicted to video games. It is also something that I believed I can’t do in real life no matter how hard I try to be good at something.

I even reached a point where I started to stop hanging out or spending time with my friends and family for more hours of gaming. I even quit my day job and applied for part-time work at home job to meet the minimum daily living expenses to simply have more time for gaming.

Fortunately, though, I was lucky enough that it did not post any other health risk for me. I was also fortunate to get my senses right, that my lifestyle and what I was doing are not healthy for me as a human anymore. And what really hit me in the head really hard to make me realize what was wrong is my wife.

My wife and I were boyfriend and girlfriend for 7 years before we got married. I was satisfied with how things are between us back then until she gave me something to think about. She wanted a better life for us while I was satisfied with the things are and to be honest with you, that means living at the bare minimum of a decent life and to have more hours of playing video games.

After that, I started to think, I said to myself that I could lose someone who loves me and whom I really love. I could lose someone who was always there for me in my hardest times. Someone who never left me despite having a poor lifestyle and no sense of plans in the future. That’s where it hit me. I don’t want to lose someone who loved me and only wanted the best for both of us.

So I started to change my mindset. I started losing time for playing games and devoting myself to livelihood productivity that’s beneficial for both of us. It was hard from the start as all I could think about was the games I was playing. I gradually got used to it and got out of my video game addiction.

On the bright side though, I still do play games from time to time whenever I get the free time to do so.

Video Game Addiction – The Truth & Reality

One thing is for certain after what we have discussed above. Video game addiction is real, it is a mental disorder, and it is a real problem. On the bright side, video game addiction can be cured, it can be stopped, and it can be prevented. The best way to prevent it is to observe your loved one, family, friends that spend so many hours playing video games. If these people prioritize playing video games over other things such as socializing, work and other sorts of responsibility that has been neglected over gaming, then it’s a great sign of video game addiction.

How to Stop/Cure Video Game Addiction?

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Video Gaming Addiction

There are a couple of ways to stop/cure video game addiction and some of those are:

  • Get help from a professional psychiatrist – A professional help is always a good option.
  • Have a different mindset – Set time for yourself to simply think. Think of your future and your dreams and ask yourself, “Will playing games help me achieve my life goals and dreams?”
  • Prioritize responsibilities over gaming – Think of a way to reward yourself for prioritizing what really matters in your life.
  • Seek others who also suffer from the same issue – Having people to talk to with similar experiences can greatly help to turn a new a leaf. The StopGaming subreddit has a lot of people that have similar experiences that might be able to help you.

The JoyofAndroid Tips to Stop Video Gaming Addiction

We are well aware of this disorder and we devised a simple way to cure or stop video game addiction especially if you’re the one who’s suffering from it:

  1. Cutting down should be the first step. Set an alarm if you don’t trust yourself, and stick to the time you said you would stop.
  2. Measure the time you spend playing games for a month with a productivity app and multiply it by 12. Is that really how long you want to spend gaming each year?
  3. It’s drastic, but selling everything could be useful if you know you can’t trust yourself.
  4. The Google Play store can be configured to limit your spending or even stop all IAP’s from your Google account.
  5. If you have nothing to do, you’ll probably end up gaming. Planning activities throughout the day could be enough to help see you through the week.


Ultimately, mobile gaming addiction is a true and real disorder. It’s a problem and a mental disease that the World Health Organization recognizes. There are many factors that can contribute to this problem but playing for a long period of time is not one of them. Basically, playing video game qualifies as an addiction if you start to cut ties between your families, responsibilities, and that results in any form of harmful consequences.

On the bright side, playing for long hours doesn’t count as long as what must be done and the basic function of being a human is not neglected.

Most of us can strike a balance and still have fun, but it must be tough for the people affected by a compulsion to keep spending or playing when the fun stops.

Has mobile gaming been positive or negative in your experience? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  1. I may have missed it but I didn’t see a prize/ developing cost comparison to “traditional” games.

    PC games used to get bigger and more expensive while keeping prices at same levels for purchase and eventuell monthly descriptions. That used to be around 60 dollars for the initial game and around 10-15 dollars per month.

    App games that won’t take nearly as much developing cost and are not comparable in quality to triple A games like clash of clans don’t cost anything in the beginning but offer ingame sales for up to 100 dollar per charge…. unlimited.

    Meaning… for a competitive gamer, developing/ maintenance costs for the developer going down, money spent to stay competitive for the player going way up.

    The more devious the developer of the app, the more “push” for player to spend. I never felt the urge to spend in clash of clans… contest of champions is an entire different animal and should not be compared to it. It’s like comparing an afternoon beer to a heroin addict.

    If anyone would tell me today that a company sponsored the best player in the game to be a carrot for other whales… I wouldn’t be surprised at all.

    The problem is the “fixed” price all f2play apps have adopted. 100 USD… that’s the price for a traditional triple AAA game and almost 3 month of playtime.
    I don’t buy the “the game company has to make money” argument for above stated reason… they spend less and therefor require less to stay profitable yet they have an exponential higher income than traditional games.

  2. I believe that gaming is addictive. I just broke up with my bf because of his increasing amounts of time and money spent on gaming that resulted in neglect of responsibilities, family, and friends. He missed visits with his kids, spent money that was needed for bills, and lied about it. He was actually a great bf until this happened. I’ve watched him become someone that I don’t know anymore. I wish people were more aware of the risks, and so I’m posting this. Thanks for the info.

  3. My Fiancee plays a game called ‘Lords Mobile’.

    In the first month, she spent more that $20,000.00 on this game. She has now been playing this game for nearly 7 months. At this point she is nearly $65,000.00 in debt. She has been hiding the debt from me, until two weeks ago when I came across her Visa bill. I went through our bank records and I nearly threw up.

    We are literally going to loose our house over this game. I am currently going to a debt consolidation agency to try and get the credit card debt under control.

    I knew she had been playing this game obsessively for months (she sleeps with her phone, with the game running, in case her guild gets attacked), but I had absolutely no idea about the massive amounts of money she was paying for in-game purchases.

    I am realizing this game has much more in common with online gambling than anything else.

    The worst part is, despite all this – she *refuses* to stop playing the god-damn game.

    I have given her until the end of this month to sell her IGG gaming account and quit – otherwise we are separating.

    1. Hi there,

      My fiancé is extremely addicted to Lords Mobile too. He hasn’t spent any money on it (thank God) but he makes up for it with the time he invests in playing it. When he’s not working or sleeping, he is playing this stupid game. I absolutely hate it because he and I work crazy schedules and we don’t get to see each other much. He spends all his free time giving attention to the game rather than spending any quality time with me. He was great until the inhealthy addiction took over. This f****** game has consumed him to the point that he’ll wake up if he’s being rallied and he’ll get on to fight. It’s the first thing he does when he wakes up and the last thing he does before going to bed. It’s actually causing him to ignore his real life outside of work.

      I just wish Lords Mobile would be erased from cyberspace forever. It can burn in Hell.

      I’ve tried telling him he plays way too much but of it falls on deaf ears. I can feel my resentment and frustration building.
      Because…I’m the one doing it all. I do all the household chores. I cook. I do all the planning. He does nothing to help me. He won’t take me out or spend any time with me anymore, and if we do miraculously go anywhere I have to literally drag him out of the house. And wherever we go, what is he doing? You guessed it: Playing Lords Mobile.

      And I am aware that marriage won’t solve this problem. It’ll only make it worse with time. I am so frustrated and I don’t know what to do. I’ve been spending my time regaining some of the independence I lost by catching up with friends or I just leave him at home and go out without him.

      Hope your situation works out for the best too.
      Gaming addiction is so sad because life is so short and letting it pass by this way is such a waste.

    2. People who have never gotten hooked on one of these games cannot comprehend what it does to your brain. I can’t even explain it. In the beginning I played Farmville and Candy Crush and I might spend a few bucks a month, at MOST. Then I started playing The Walking Dead Road to Redemption. Suddenly my competitive nature took over, and as with all these games if you want to be on top you gotta pull out that credit card.

      I wasn’t in too deep at first, just a few hundred dollars. Then my brother died, and that game became my refuge from reality. I didn’t even think about the money, not after that first click to drop $100 anyway. I’ll spare you the details but within a few months I’d dumped 15k on it. I got $5000 from my dad to put on my credit cards, thinking I could manage the payments if I got it down to 10k. Except I didn’t stop. I was like, awesome another 5k to blow.

      Long story short, I ran them up to about 30k. My husband borrowed from his retirement account to pay them off, I uninstalled the Walking Dead game, and we both breathed a collective sigh of relief.

      Then I started playing Brutal Age. Three accounts, running two clans. I can’t put the phones down. I’m always talking to the people in my clans, and I’ve run up another 8k.

      I’m uninstalling it today. Would you believe me if I told you the thought of doing it made me physically sick to my stomach? Because it does. I feel like I’m letting my clan down. MY CLAN! Not my husband who I’ve already screwed on the finances. My fcking clan of people around the world with names like Candyman and Sharts and WasabiHandjawb. WTF is wrong with me?

      For the stats, I’m 48 years old and female. I’m a romance novelist. FFS I have grandkids. Not exactly what the world thinks of when they think of video game addicts.

      1. Hi Sera, thank you for sharing your story with us. It’s true. No one will understand this the most than the ones who went through it. We hope you get better with handling games. 30k$ is not a joke to spend on in-app mobile game purchases. It’s enough to change someone’s life too.

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