When he was 7, Markus (not his real name) played his first computer game. At 12, who would sneak to his parents’ computer in the middle of the night. When he was 18, he would play up to 16 hours a day.
Markus was on a straight path to computer addiction, until he was diagnosed by a doctor and he decided to get rid of his computer.
Markus is the prototypical gaming addict, says Jannis Wlachojaiannis, who works for the Berlin-based Lost in Space project.
Wlachojaiannis says the average addict’s age is 23. Most are men; women who get addicted to computers tend to become obsessed with social networks, says Bernd Sobottka, a German psychologist.
Psychologist Sobottka says, “If someone gets aggressive and agitated because he can’t play, that’s a sign of addiction,” he notes.
A doctor diagnosed Markus with depression and gaming addiction.
Markus got rid of his computer, wrote a list of 200 things he should have done long ago and began working on the list. He is now undergoing therapy and is also working with a self-help group to combat his addiction.
“I’m keeping my head above water,” he says. And he still has to promise, every day: “Today I’m not going to play.”DPA