Exclusive: Online gaming 'made me get to the point where I stopped going to school’

Written by Zach Kelly for Channel 9

Angus was in his last years of high school when his online gaming fixation took hold of his life.

The former Sydney teenager recalls spending 18 hours in one sitting playing video games. This would balloon into a habit that would see him attend just seven days of his Year 10 school year.

“There wasn’t anything else I could do about it,” Angus* told nine.com.au.

“I just refused to go out. At first I was playing every day after school.”

His parents tried what he calls “the basic stuff” to get him back living in the real world - cutting off the internet and hiding gaming consoles. But then, they gave up.

Angus said he was obsessed with video games - such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and League of Legends - but not addicted, and was only drawn to them because of a chronic skin condition. “I had an extremely bad case of eczema,” the now university student said.

“It definitely helped with my depression.”

Angus said gaming helped him make friends online - some of whom he has met face-to-face. He likens it to “using a problem to solve another problem”.

Yet, it also proved to be an experience he doesn’t want to go back to.

Today, Angus is in his second year of an Advanced Science and Medicine degree. He is back to being his social self and at most now spends three hours a day playing video games.

“Addiction is actually a very extreme health condition. People use the term very loosely,” Western Sydney University researcher Dr Joanne Orlando told nine.com.au.

“The most similar kind of addiction to gaming addiction would be something like gambling addiction.”

Dr Orlando, who is investigating the impact of technology on children, said there is a line between what we understand as obsession with video games and an addiction.

She said game addiction is when you play games “to the detriment of other aspects of your life”, but there’s nothing wrong with playing video games.

“We see in the research that there’s benefits in playing a good quality game,” she said.

However, she also said there needs to be more understanding as to tackling how to approach children about playing too many games.

“I think you need to, rather than make assumptions, I think you need to chat to the person about what keeps them coming back,” she said.

“Just talking without being judgemental – I think that’s the first step”.

*Not his real name.

This article was first published by Channel 9 here

Joanne Orlando