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Problematic use of video games

Playing video games is an act of everyday life, a form of entertainment on a worldwide scale. Video games like "Super Mario" and "The Legend of Zelda", among others, are part of many of our lives. They can be fun, challenging, transport you to worlds of great beauty, fantasy and imagination, have the potential to bring friends and family together, improve dexterity and even some memory. Some research suggests that playing video games can reduce stress (Farmer et al., 2022) and fulfil psychological needs such as autonomy, competence and belonging (Pszybylski et al., 2010), as well as help players to distract from potential ruminative thoughts about stressful events (Reinecke., 2009)

Most people play video games without developing behavioral problems, but there are some people who can suffer from the way they manage their gaming habits, developing behavioral habits around video game use that seriously impair some areas of their life.

Image: "Super Mario" Nintendo

Scientific research has been committed to understanding and theorizing the issue of risks and disturbance resulting from the problematic use of video games, but also the benefits that video games can have from school age with classes to more advanced ages, improving some people's cognitive areas. Soon we may have people who can benefit from the use of video games, and others who cannot.

The World Health Organization recognized "gaming disorder" as a diagnosis of mental illness in its Manual of World Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11).

Some signs to consider when talking about video game disorder may be:

- whether the person is actually enjoying the video game or whether it worsens their mood instead.

- if you play out of obligation, not being able to stop, for example, to see if you defeat that boss taking hours and sometimes all night to play, leaving the person exhausted, compromising their day school/work/wellness.

- prolonged isolation.

- prefer to gamble even if it harms your relationships, profession and health.

The definition of World Health Organization defines "gaming disorder" as "a pattern of videogame behavior ("digital game" or "video game") characterized by impaired control of the game, giving priority to the use of videogames to the detriment of other activities and interests of daily life, and the continuation or worsening of video game use even with negative consequences" (WHO, 2019).

For there to be an effective risk or even disorder, addiction to video games, the preponderant factor is the negative consequences that the use of video games can have on the person's life, which despite being harmful, having a negative impact on the various areas of their personal, family, social, professional/school life, they cannot, without help, reduce playing time or stop playing.

Video games are neither "good" nor "bad", and continuing to label them this way contributes to an oversimplified dichotomy. video games use and interact with video games and their consequences.

Image: "The Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild" Nintendo.


Pszybylski, A.K., Rigby, C.S., & Ryan, R.M. (2010). A Motivational Model of Video Game Engagement. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 154-166.

World Health Organization, 2019.


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