Beat Gaming Disorder: This is How To Game Safely

Don't let it control you.


Chandre Davids |

It’s the final minutes of the game, sweat runs down your brow. You take a deep breath, this is it. If you miss this shot, it’s over, you lose. And if you lose, you’ll never hear the end of it. You compose yourself, adjust your position and take aim. A kick here, a dodge there…and SCORE!!! You won the FIFA World Cup! Well, the video game kind.

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Now, most guys are guilty of spending a little bit too much time playing Fortnight or FIFA, challenging the boys to see who will be the best gamer amongst all. And sure, it’s all fun and games until you find yourself cancelling plans to beat your high score. Or when your every waking moment is filled with a controller in your hand. Sadly, this has become a reality for many gamers. They’re addicted. It’s become such a problem that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified gaming disorder as a mental health disorder.

Gaming disorder

Gaming disorder isn’t just sitting in front of the screen for a few hours a day, it’s way more serious than that. It can be characterised by the following symptoms:

  • Impaired control over gaming
  • Priority given to gaming over other activities
  • Continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.

This classification puts gaming disorder on the same playing field as other addictions such as gambling. According to the WHO website, Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, mental health and substance abuse expert, says that by classifying compulsive gaming as a disorder, “health professionals and systems will be more alerted to the existence of this condition, [while people who suffer from these conditions can get appropriate help”.

Gaming safely

Currently, there’s not much known about how many gamers actually become addicted. But like many behaviours in life, gaming can easily become addictive. So it’s best to set yourself some ground rules – give these a try.

No cancelling plans with real people in order to play video games.

The emphasis here is on real people. We humans are social creatures and need social interactions. Your partner wants to try a new restaurant, but your copy of Call of Duty just arrived this morning and you’ve been waiting to play it. Choose your partner, because your game can wait and time with loved ones should always trump first point-of-view shooter games.

Have a limit on how much time you spend playing games.

By limiting the amount of time you spend playing games, you remain in control. And that includes “just one more stage then I’ll go to bed”, showing up for work on two hours of sleep is probably not the best idea.

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Video games are to never take priority.

Many people use gaming as a bit of an escape from reality, and that’s fine. But gaming should never be your number one priority (unless you’re a game developer). If you’re going to be sitting five hours with a controller glued to your hands, make sure that everything else important is done.

Related: How To Get Out Of Bed For Your Morning Workout

Take a step into the real world.

Make sure that after spending hours running as Lionel Messi, be sure to actually get in some real running or any other form of exercise. Just because you call yourself a gamer doesn’t mean that you should fit the stereotype. Take a look at Gareth Scott, a gamer that makes his health a priority. So you can have it all, just be sure to keep your priorities in order, put the controller down every once in a while, and spend time in the real world.

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