Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Street Fighter are familiar names to nearly all of us. They are all best selling games of major video game consoles. Over 9.8 billion dollars were spent on video games in the United States during 2001 alone, and video game consoles are present in 36 million homes in the United States (1). With the increasing amount of time that people are spending on video games, one is left to wonder if it is possible to become addicted to video games. Do we need a Video Gamers Anonymous?
Addiction has been defined as "A primary, chronic disease, characterized by impaired control over the use of a psychoactive substance and/or behavior. Clinically, the manifestations occur along biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual dimensions (2)." While there is currently no category for video game addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3), which is the manual utilized to diagnose psychological disorders, video game addicts are often described by clinicians in the field as displaying many symptoms characteristic of other addictions. These behaviors include failure to stop playing games, difficulties in work or school, telling lies to loved ones, decreased attention to personal hygiene, decreased attention to family and friends, and disturbances in the sleep cycle (4). Withdrawal symptoms can even include behaviors as severe as shaking (5).