This week, The World Health Organisation have at long last recognised Gaming Addiction as an official disease/mental disorder.
This is long overdue. The concept of gaming addiction has been under study for 30 years, since the origin of gaming.
Now to be clear, it doesn’t mean that people who play a lot of video games are suffering from gaming addiction!
Gaming addiction is classified as losing control over how much you play, to the point where it starts to affect your life in the real world and takes priority over other necessities such as food, drink, socialising, work and family.
Gaming addiction is rare and effects less than 3% of gamers, but those who do have it should now finally be able to get support for the condition.
Those suffering from other mental conditions such depression or anxiety have been linked to being more vulnerable to gaming addiction as it provides them a social outlet without having to leave their safe space.
I myself play a lot of video games, sometimes more than 6 hours a day, but I’m not addicted to gaming. I always prioritise work, friends and family over games. But should I have nothing planned, I’d just rather play games than watch the rubbish that’s on TV.
So parents, don’t panic if your children are in their rooms playing games, that’s just their chosen medium of entertainment, they’re not necessarily addicted to it.
As an example of addiction, back when I used to play a game called World of Warcraft, I had a friend in my guild who was suffering with gaming addiction. He lost his job, his girlfriend and nearly his home to it as all he would do was play the game.
It took a tremendous amount of self-awareness and strength for him to break the cycle and stop his gaming habits, all of which he did without any psychological support, to get his life back on track.
We rarely hear from him as he had to sever all ties from gaming, including the social ones, to free himself from his addiction, but it sounds like he’s doing well these days.
Gaming is addictive as it stimulates reward centres of the brain, just like gambling, thrill-seeking and sport does. And with continuous stimulation it can become a dependency, like me and coffee… seriously, don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee, it’s not worth it.
It’s important to try and catch gaming addiction early; should you start to show tendencies towards it consider getting help as if can take a long time to get over it as with any addiction.
The important thing to remember here is that everything in excess can be addictive and bad for you, even things required for survival.
Too much food makes you fat, you can literally drink too much water and drown and too much alcohol can damage your liver, reputation and produce a lot of embarrassing, if hazy, memories.
Everything should be taken in moderation.
Gaming in moderation has been proven to be beneficial in many ways, from improved memory, heightened reflexes and quicker problem-solving abilities.
But again, the key word here is moderation.