Gaming: Playing for Fun vs Addiction

TOUCH Cyber Wellness

Gaming: Playing for Fun vs Addiction

Gaming is a popular mode of entertainment and relaxation for people across all ages. Many play games on their mobile phones during their daily commute to and from school or work. At home, computer gaming is a common pastime.

Why are we drawn to games?

For every person who plays games, the reason is not simply because it is fun. To delve deeper, there are certain elements in games that seem fun to some and uninteresting to others.

So, what makes it different for every individual?

According to the self-determination theory, there are three key pull factors – intrinsic motivations – that games have that draw us to them.

- Autonomy

- Competence

- Relatedness

Essentially, there are different needs to be fulfilled in us and possibly, that particular game that we cannot seem to get off has one of these three elements that meet our needs.

Aside from the intrinsic factors that pull us towards certain genre of games, there are also extrinsic factors that influence our choices. One of these factors is how well a game is designed.

For instance, gambling elements like gachapon or “loot boxes” give you a chance to roll for a rare weapon, costume, or reward. To gain a chance to own and open one of these loot boxes, one would need to spend actual money. Once a certain amount of time, money and effort has been invested into the game, it becomes pretty hard to stop.

How do you know when your love for gaming becomes an addiction?

Here are some signs and symptoms to stay mindful of with regards to gaming addiction:

- Gaming becomes a hindrance to your daily lives (e.g. not showering, skipping meals, or not doing your work or assignments to game more)
- You feel the need to constantly increase the time spent on gaming to feel the same level of satisfaction
- You lie to close ones about how much time you spend gaming
- You experience withdrawal symptoms, such as sadness, anxiety, or irritability when you are unable to game
- You are unable to reduce playing and are unsuccessful in quitting gaming
- You use gaming to relieve negative emotions, such as guilt or hopelessness

Ways to prevent developing a gaming addiction

Prevention can be seen as taking baby steps to form good gaming habits. There are two key approaches we would like to share.

1. Psychological approach

Some examples include:

- Setting time limits for play and work and adhering to the limits

- Choosing physical play as opposed to internet gaming

2. Physical approach

Some examples include:

- Removing devices from places of rest or work

- Locking devices digitally using apps during time of studying or working

Prevention is better than cure and creating a balance between gaming and a healthy life is key. If you need to speak with an expert, get in touch with TOUCH Cyber Wellness here or call the TOUCHline at 1800 377 2252 (Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 6pm).


TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW) is a pioneer and leading non-profit agency that champions cyber wellness and media literacy education in Singapore. Since 2001, TCW has reached more than 320 schools and one million youths, parents, educators and counsellors through its education, advocacy and intervention efforts.