Until a few months back I used to play GTAV at my friend’s house without my parent’s permission, this went on for three years and then I told them. They didn’t get that mad but told me I couldn’t play it anymore. The problem is that now that I never play it anymore I feel a very strong need to play it and since no other game can replace it I feel unhappy and unfulfilled. When I actually write it out the first time it sounds really pathetic but it’s actually quite a big problem. I wasn’t very happy with my life before but video games was an easy way to cope with other things (when I say cope I don’t mean through extreme violence like in GTA’s case, more like a person who really likes soccer and uses that). The reason my parents won’t let me play it is because of the mature content but I’m not interested in the sex and drugs and the violence is unrealistic enough not to affect me at all. To be honest I don’t really feel anything special when for example killing people in video games. I’ve done a lot of research and I like to think that I know more than most people about psychology and I’m very sure that I’m not a psychopath nor narcissist. An example from the game is this one scene involving torture which I found pretty hard to get through. I’m also quite intelligent for my age and has scored 121 on an IQ test, I’ve also got really good grades and stuff so I think that that’s maybe why I’m not affected by violence I know is fake. I’ve also already done pretty much everything in the game and seen almost everything in it in movies and tv series, so I kinda feel like I’ve seen everything and that all potential damage is already done. My parents have also said that you shouldn’t take chances and that I may get affected even though I didn’t before. That may be but I’ve actually begun to feel really depressed and sad most of the time and I know that there’s no other way to fix it. I think that’s because it was one of the things I enjoyed doing the most and now I can’t anymore. I would be so thankful if you could help me. Thank you!!! (From Sweden)
Withdrawal symptoms from internet gaming is a disorder that is being studied and reviewed as this article explains. While there is, as yet, no conclusive treatment or agreement on it, it sounds like you are experiencing a reaction that has come exactly from stopping. There isn’t an easy protocol I can direct you to for treatment, but I do have a suggestion. First, let me say that I think your parents are doing the right thing by trying to curb your use because the more well-known information does indicate it may be harmful. Yet I am impressed by your courage and concern about the impact it has had on your own well-being.
I’d advocate for an experiment. Take a period of time that you and your parents could agree to, a week or two, and work out a compromise of playing the game for a minimal amount of time, perhaps a half-hour a day. Experiencing playing the game at some minor level of time engagement might have an impact on you. If it does, then we know there has been a withdrawal effect. The key here is for you and your parents to be working together for your best interest, improving communication with each other, and testing out ways to help.
If you use it and feel better, then I think we follow a recovery model. Find the absolute minimum of time you could play it to prevent the withdrawal reaction from getting activated. Then find a way to keep it at that minimum — or wean off of it slowly.
I wish I had something less experimental to offer, but the current state of the science doesn’t offer anything conclusive beyond experimentation.
Wishing you patience and peace,