As technology becomes more advanced and popular, so do games become more intrinsic in the lives of those who who enjoy playing a good video game. Nowadays, games have developped to an extent where it feels very realistic, which adds an extra dimension of fun for fans.

But just like with anything else, using something too much can lead to problems, including in the area of gaming.

Gaming itself is not listed as an actual disorder in the DSM-5 (the model used to diagnose psychiatric and psychological problems), however, problematic gaming has led to various clinical psychologists to note down common warning signs that one’s gaming has become an issue.

These warning signs include:

  1. Disrupted regular life pattern. If a person plays games all night long and sleeps in the daytime.
  2. If the problematic gamer loses their job, or stops going to school in order to be online or to play a digital game. This also applies if a gamer decides to stay inside rather than going out with friends and socialising.
  3. Need for a bigger fix. The gamer has to play for longer and longer periods in order to get the same level of enjoyment from the game. So a few months ago, the gamer used to play for an hour or two a day, but is now playing four or five hours a day.
  4. Withdrawal. Some problematic gamers can become irritable or anxious when they disconnect, or when they are forced to do so. This can come out in the form of aggression, tantrums or intense sadness.
  5. Cravings. Some problematic gamers can experience cravings, or the need to play the game or be online when they are away from the digital world.


Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. Mel is also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess, and they are one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team.