Popular Rockstar video game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) made the news this week, due to a cyber-intrusion that leaked footage of GTA VI. This is far in advance of the originally intended release date of 2024-25. Cybercriminals are threatening to leak more unless they are paid a hefty sum. Ransomeware and so forth.
Of course, cybercrime is beyond the scope of what we discuss here on our behavioral health blog. What we do want to draw your attention to however, is a very real threat connected to what is one of the most popular video game series of all time. Among the near 34 million people who have logged in to play GTA are a number of players who admit to having a legitimate Grand Theft Auto addiction. This should come as no surprise, given that data confirms that nearly 1.5% of gamers are addicts, with over 7% defined as problem gamers. GTA players are no different, and potentially worse off given the raging popularity of the game.
Do you feel as if you may fit in the addicted or problem-gamer category when it comes to GTA? If so, have you decided that it’s time to get help? You’ve come to the right place. Below is everything you need to know.
4 Signs of Grand Theft Auto Addiction or Problem and What You Can Do About it Today
You Exhibit Traditional Signs of Video Game Addiction
Before we get into the specifics of a behavioral health problem connected to Grand Theft Auto, we must first address the traditional signs of video game addiction. These include the following:
- You’re unable to cut down or stop gaming
- You continue gaming even when it causes problems
- You have no interest in anything else
- Gaming is impacting your mental health
- Gaming is impacting your physical health
For greater details on these five signs of video game addiction, click here. But first, read below as we get into the weeds of Grand Theft Auto gaming problems.
You Exhibit Uncharacteristic Aggression
An analysis of two-dozen studies from around the world (including the U.S.) found those who played Grand Theft Auto and other violent games were more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior in social settings. To be fair, there is an inconclusive causation versus correlation debate on this topic, but nonetheless the connection is there. If you have found that you have become more aggressive with others, be it via the threatening of physical violence and/or actual violence, since becoming a regular GTA player, then it’s time to press pause and reassess. The latter is especially true if you were not typically aggressive before playing the game. While the game may not be the cause of your aggression, it could be digging up underlying issues that do need to be addressed by a behavioral health specialist.
You Have Developed a Gambling Problem Within the Game
In 2019, Grand Theft Auto V published an update that added a casino and horse racing element that can be played with real money. It sent gaming and gambling critics into an uproar given the implications, and yet the feature persists to this day. Further, players are not able to withdraw casino winnings – they may only deposit with real money. To reiterate, the game’s casino feature accepts real money, but pays out none.
If you’re spending more than you can afford (i.e. aren’t meeting other financial obligations) on GTA’s casino platform, it’s time to seek help. You may not only have a gaming problem, but an online gambling addiction too.
You Have Developed a Gambling Problem Outside of the Game
“But even having the option to gamble real money in a virtual in-game casino, even when it never results in actually earning real winnings, poses its own ethical issues […] Honestly, a game with only virtual chips (that you can only earn via gameplay and can’t purchase with real money) would still be something of a “gateway drug” for addicts or potential addicts. Allowing players to purchase chips is worse. While it might not be as bad as real gambling, it still strikes me as a bad idea with potentially bad consequences.” (Eric Kain – Gaming Blogger – FORBES)
The gateway drug concept in itself is something to consider with respect to GTA. In this scenario, traditional video game addiction concerns are compounded by the threat of a real life gambling disorder. Moreover, gambling on GTA is growing beyond the virtual environment. That’s right, there are currently GTA 5 eSports tournaments happening in 200 communities worldwide. Online sportsbooks and casinos are allowing players to bet on these tournaments with real money. Given that eSports betting is associated with a number of mental health risks, you could be headed down a dangerous road when betting on GTA. Like with in-game gambling (above), if you’re spending more than you can afford when betting on GTA eSports tournaments, it’s time to seek help.
If you are worried that you may be addicted to Grand Theft Auto, we can help.
Step 1: Take Our Video Game Addiction Quiz
The first step is to take our online video game addiction quiz to establish how GTA gaming is affecting your life. it takes less than 5-minutes to answer a few questions. You will then receive an instant assessment of your gaming habits and whether they are cause for concern.
Step 2: Book Your FREE Consultation
If the online quiz suggests that you have a gaming problem, professional support is recommended. At Kindbridge, we offer specialized counseling for video game addiction that’s accessible, affordable and convenient. Receive personalized treatment from a fully-licensed therapist in the comfort of your home.
Book a free 15-minute consultation so we can assess you needs and recommend a plan of action.