Utah Stories

Exploring Video Game Addiction in Utah

In 2018, the World Health Organization included gaming disorders among mental health conditions. How prevalent is this disorder in Utah?


“After we got married, I realized that video games were his whole life, not just part of it. And there was no room for me,” Cherish McClellan said about her now ex-husband. McClellan recalls him gaming as soon as he returned from work, and gaming for the rest of the night. She gave him and the marriage almost fifteen years.

Even after trying marriage classes, addiction counseling, and therapy, the struggle was constant. Finally, one day, after he skipped Valentine’s for gaming, McClellan gave him an ultimatum: video games or her. Unbelievably, her husband chose video games.

“I couldn’t live like this anymore,” she expressed, “only having a small portion of my husband.” Now, he communicates and interacts with their four children through video games. 

In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) included gaming disorders among mental health conditions. WHO defines it as “a pattern of gaming behavior  characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities.”

Gaming disorder is now considered a mental health condition. It affects people’s finances, sentimental relationships, and social interaction. The video game addiction patterns are financial instability, broken relationships, and social isolation. 

 Some gamers and their families can agree that video games have some advantages. Autumn Killpack-Havey believes video games are “the new way of storytelling.” She says that some people would choose to get lost in video games. However, she says, “it is a stress release, social activity, or even just an opportunity to express yourself.”

The issue lies in the addiction component of video games and the lack of self-control as well. Miguel Juarez, an Ogden resident, says he never allows video games to interfere with his work life or studies. He is a high school graduate. 

Cas Leavitt says she felt neglected in her previous relationship since her partner gamed too many hours and there was no communication. In her current relationship, Leavitt explains, both play together sometimes. It creates a bond, but most importantly, she says, is that she is allowed to express her feelings regarding gaming and the amount of time her partner plays. In both scenarios, self-control is a determinant factor. 

Gaming, per se, doesn’t seem to cause issues. However, the lack of self-control and personality play an important role in how much harm gaming can cause a person. Someone who has her priorities straight will not allow gaming to interfere with her success in life. On the other hand, those who do not have goals and set priorities could prefer to spend their time gaming rather than trying to achieve personal goals. 

Losing oneself to video games can cause financial strains. Some people believe the younger generations live in their parent’s basement because they focus on playing and not on trying to thrive. Some gamers disagree. Mykel Adamans says it is a funny stereotype. However, he adds that “we have to look at the parents who enable that kind of behavior” for those who do live up to the stereotype. 

LisaReina Delgado thinks there is some truth about people neglecting finances for gaming. Nevertheless, she says gaming and the equipment are expensive, “so gamers know they have to work to provide for their lifestyle.”

For her part, Killpack-Havey blames high rent on her generation for staying with their parents or moving back home.

While, in some cases, there is a connection between video games and adult kids living with their parents instead of moving out, the exorbitant increase in rent has obliged many to do so. 

Another reason younger generations seem not to work as hard as the older generation did is because of a change of mentality. Millennials and Generation Z state that they want to live life rather than just work and sleep until they retire. They say video gaming is just a newer hobby.

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