As of this year, the World Health Organization has added the classification “Gaming Disorder” as a diagnosable condition. USA Today and major television networks went live with the announcement in past weeks, and we wanted to know more. For this post, regular contributor Mariela Ticas discusses this new development.
When we start playing video games we immediately realize we are in control. Like driving a vehicle at high speeds we have total control. We come back to play more games and build new avatars for the thrill of being in control.
In the virtual world, we can navigate through space, become a notorious car thief, win a war, and fight an inter-dimensional demon to save the last surviving planet in the galaxy. All from the comfort of our homes! Who needs a book, when you can create and control adventures like these?
According to the Entertainment Software Association, over 2 billion people play video games around the world. Furthermore, where there’s a craze there’s also danger and the World Health Organization is now acknowledging just that. This past Monday, the W.H.O. admits that players can become addicted. The term “gaming disorder” will appear under the newly revised organization’s International Classification of Diseases. The W.H.O. uses the ICD as their dictionary for medical conditions.
However, gaming addictions aren’t an overnight phenomenon. A study published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction states ” […] a survey show[ed] that 97 % of Americans aged 12–17 years play video games.” The number of young people suffering from disordered habits has inevitably increased as the art of gaming has evolved and become convenient enough to fit in your back pocket. Mental health experts see game addiction as a by-product of other underlying mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Like an alcoholic turning to the bottle to solve their sorrows, so too does the gamer seek shelter in virtual worlds to hide from their sorrows.
In Asia, rehabilitation centers for video game addiction have existed for years. South Korea has implemented regulations that stops children from online gaming portals between midnight and 6 a.m. and has gaming addiction treatment clinics available for their citizens. On Reddit you can find the r/StopGaming forum for struggling game addicts trying to find a support group. There is also the highly successful site GameQuitters which draws in 50,000 participants a month from over 91 countries. Game Quitters was founded by Cam Adair, after his addiction nearly cost him his life. He gave a powerfulTEDx talk which should definitely be viewed here.
With the video game industry revenue expected to grow to $180.1 billion globally in the next three years, should the government legislate for warning labels to be plastered on video games? The need to play video games stems from a need to be in control, but what if the more you play the more control you lose? Why continue going back to a virtual reality that doesn’t give back to humanity? What if in the process of building new avatars you lose your sense of identity?
All the time spent on reaching the next level, could be dedicated to volunteering at a local shelter or non-profit organization that helps real people attain the next level of their livelihood. You could invest time in yourself to attain the next level of success in your career. Maybe you can learn to speak a new language and learn about the power of connecting in real time. All you have to do is turn the game off, step back into reality and experience the beauty and wonders this planet has to offer.
The choice is yours – you are in control.
Since this post was written, the E.S.A. has put out a press release to address the W.H.O. decision – it can be viewed here.
Mariela Ticas lives in Los Angeles, CA. This is her second post for ATRPs, her first can be viewed here. She is a podcast personality/co-host/blogger for “The Strange Kamelion Show” on iTunes and is an active member of Sag-Aftra as a performer. She has always been a writer at heart and got her start writing poetry as a teen. Mariela got her start in the entertainment industry back in 2012 and is now currently working on her first children’s book! On her downtime, she’s a volunteer member of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. You can follow Mariela on Instagram, or Twitter! Be sure to read her podcast blog, and scope her IMDb for upcoming features.
Stock image from Pexels.