Gaming: Resolving Video Game Addiction


Control the Controller: Understanding and Resolving Video Game Addiction

By Ciaran O’Connor

Food for thought for families who are hooked on the Internet. We are that family.
Food for thought for families who are hooked on the Internet. We are that family.

UK Publication: October 1 2014 by Free Association Books

“The myth of gaming addiction being just about young guys playing for hours needs to be left behind. We need to realise how widespread the problem can be with mobile gaming taking the problem to new audiences from teens to middle aged women.” – Ciaran O’Connor.

“Games are either considered great for you, staving off ageing and improving cognitive skills, or they are treated like the devil. I decided to tackle the biggest area of contention: addiction, and create a book that gave a realistic picture that remained favourable towards both gamers and gaming. I wanted to see a pro-gaming approach to video game addiction,” says Ciaran O’Connor.


About Ciaran O’Connor

Ciaran O’Connor is a counsellor and psychotherapist who specialises in the digital health and wellbeing of his clients. Many of his clients spend vast amounts of time gaming. Some of whom do this in a healthy and engaged way, some in a problematic or addicted way. Ciaran has struggled with problematic gaming; both as a boy and at times throughout his adult life. Having worked for four years as a game designer alongside being a therapist, Ciaran has a unique insight into how the industry works. His primary training as a psychotherapist is in the existential tradition; this is a modality that looks at fundamental fears in life that we all face. These are often the fears that addicted gamers must contend with.


About the new book…

Control the Controller provides an up-to-date perspective on video game addiction, which is in line with the rapid explosion of free-to-play and mobile-based gaming of the last five years. Ciaran O’Connor’s insights from working in the games industry allow him to expand current thinking on addiction to keep pace with these changes, going on to offer solutions to the problem for both gamers, loved ones, mental health workers and game developers.

The book begins with a realistic look at the harm that video games can cause, dispelling some of the more exaggerated myths of them as inherently harmful influences. It goes on to describe the nature of video game addiction, providing a checklist against which people can verify that what they are dealing with is addiction, problematic play or simply engaged gaming. Importantly, this section helps people to distinguish between someone who is addicted to video games and someone who just really likes playing games – two very different scenarios. Next is an overview of the arguments as to what causes video game addiction. The disease model, the addictive personality and the indications from neuroscience are all considered before looking at gaming addiction as an escape from distress – the book’s chosen stance on addiction. This is then expanded upon by looking at how pressures from both an internal world of uncomfortable thoughts or an external world of social pressures can both encourage a flight into games.

The final chapter gives a step-by-step process for managing the addiction back to a healthy behaviour. The approach used here is one of moderation first, abstinence later and while it does not advocate the 12-step model, it remains sympathetic to this position as an alternative if all else fails. Ciaran finishes with a nod to the future of gaming addiction before sealing the book’s sympathetic position to games, gamers and those that have to go through the pain of being close to an addicted gamer.


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