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What families should know about video game addiction

Bridger* grew up playing video games. He loved the way that they made him feel. Bridger also grew up with an abusive father in a highly dysfunctional family, and video games were his oasis, the place he would turn whenever things got intense at home or he needed to cope with his feelings. Video games started as a harmless diversion, but Bridger found himself feeling compelled to play for longer periods of time. As he began thinking more about the games and became fixated on the next time he could play, he also grew disinterested in other activities he previously enjoyed. His parents didn’t like all the time he was spending on video games, and they had heated arguments over his gaming. Eventually, he started sneaking video game time and even stole money from his mother’s purse to buy a game.

Bridger attended college for awhile, where he met a girl, also a gamer, that he later married. While he tried to attend classes at first, he was tired from gaming all night, and he found it hard to focus on the subject or study for tests. He failed most of his classes and dropped out. He later had a string of jobs but was constantly getting fired for not showing up to work. His wife, who previously shared his love for gaming, began to resent all the time he spent gaming. They had huge arguments, and she threatened divorce a number of times. They eventually had two children, but Bridger would play games when he was supposed to be watching them, resulting in a few times when the toddler wandered outside by a busy street or got into an accident because Bridger was fixated on the game. Bridger loved gaming, but his life was falling apart. He finally decided to seek marriage and family therapy for a problem that had gotten out of hand.

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