By Michael Foster-Sanders/campus editor

Video games, like any other activity, can be a positive hobby that can promote being social through multiplayer games, improving dexterity, hand-eye coordination and critical thinking. 

But when a person prioritizes gaming over real life, something once considered as harmless fun can become dangerous.

NE student Maleka Payne-Teferi said her video game addiction started in middle school when she first received a Sony PSP.

 “I would play it instead of doing homework, and I would play it instead of hanging out with friends,” she said.

Payne-Teferi said because of her strict mother, she could not hang out much with friends. She coped with that loss with long gaming sessions.

“I wasn’t allowed to do much as a kid, so staying inside the house you had to have something to do,” she said. “So these gaming sessions would last maybe five or six hours, and they would be frequent at least three times a week.” 

Alejandro Zamorano plays a virtual reality game.
Alejandro Zamorano plays a virtual reality game.
Collegian file photo

A gaming disorder is defined by the World Health Organization as a pattern of gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority giving to gaming over activities to the extent that it takes precedence over other interests and activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. 

The organization added gaming disorder to its International Classification of Diseases, a guide which countries take into consideration when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends or disorders, in its mid-2018 publication, according to the WHO’s website.

NE counselor James Varnado, who has worked with people with addiction issues, said it can stem from a number of reasons in a person’s life.

“Susceptibility to addiction has a lot to do with people’s unmet needs and a desire for pleasure,” he said. “Whenever it’s a deficit in a person’s life, they seek alternative sublimations for their compulsions.”

SE students have been playing video games in the Bistro since spring 2011 after noticing a rule forbidding students to bring their own TV.
SE students have been playing video games in the Bistro since spring 2011 after noticing a rule forbidding students to bring their own TV.
Collegian file photo

When Payne-Teferi noticed her addiction almost reached the point of no return as her grades started to suffer, she made a decision to want to do better.

“I got to the point in high school where either I had to choose to be successful or video games, and I put away the video games,” she said.

In college, Payne-Teferi still games on occasion but stresses the need for people to find balance in their lives so they don’t overindulge.

Varnado said addiction can be one of the most difficult behaviors to control or to modify, but methods can help combat it.

“Talk therapy and counter techniques such as cognitive behavior therapy are some of the methods that can be used, so the person can see positive affirmations within themselves so they can break the chains of addiction,” he said.

NE student Timothy Franklin said the way he combats being addicted to video games is by setting time limits when gaming and wants fellow students to try his method if they’re suffering from addiction.

“Set a time limit for an hour for playing the game, and once that time is up, stop, get up and go do something important,” he said. “Your grades cannot wait. Your education cannot wait. But video games can wait because they’re always going to be there.”