Are you constantly itching to play video games, or dreaming of acquiring the latest piece of armour while working away at the office? Maybe it’s high time you seek treatment from qualified mental health professionals. The WHO (World Health Organisation) has recently announced a new disorder in their 72nd World Health Assembly: Gaming Disorder. This causes an uproar among the video game industry to retract the claim. A local doctor, and professional gamer also weigh in on this new development.
WHO says, “By 2020, every country should have a treatment plan, plus a prevention strategy.”
Previously, there was no clear distinction between gaming addiction and gambling addiction, as both are severe addictions that interfere with patients’ daily lives.
Now, Gaming Disorder is an illness on its own with its unique set of symptoms.
Should you seek professional help for your video game obsession?
Here are 3 symptoms according to WHO:
- Lack control over their gaming habits
- Prioritising gaming over other interests and activities
- Continuing gaming despite its negative consequences
If you tick all the checkboxes for the above symptoms, and they persist for at least a year, then it is highly likely that you have Gaming Disorder. Addiction is a serious illness that also affects the body on a biological level.
Similar to gambling addiction, your body releases a huge amount of feel-good chemicals called endorphin; a gaming addict would want to chase that high.
For those who are still uncertain about the WHO symptoms, Hong Kong psychiatrist, Jackie Fu, comes up with a simple self-quiz:
- Have you ever given up on something more important because of gaming, such as work and school?
- Have you ever had mood swings (irritable or anxious) due to video games?
- Has anyone around you ever commented that you are addicted to gaming?
Dr. Fu says if two of the above is true for you, has gone on for quite a while, and affects your work, family, and social life, then you are likely to have Gaming Disorder.
Video Game Addiction, Part of a Bigger Problem
For those who are straddled with preexisting mood problems, video games can serve as a welcomed escape from reality. Major setbacks early in life can create especially strong predispositions for Gaming Disorder. Therefore, Dr. Fu supplies, “therapy should be gradual and needs to address the root of the problem”.
Video game culture has also evolved to the extent that it is very easy to play video games any time and anywhere on the cell phone.
Because patients mostly fall under the very young age of 10 to 30 years old, Dr. Fu hopes that everyone can face this problem squarely.
Professional Gamers More at Risk?
Former professional gamer for League of Legends, “Missing”, firmly disagrees and gives us a glimpse into the rapidly developing e-sports scene. He explains that contrary to popular belief, professional gamers actually spend a lot of time discussing game strategies and bonding with teammates outside of gaming. They also have their own doctors to lead team morning workouts.
“We can get addicted to anything, it doesn’t just apply to playing video games. Everything is best in moderation. We should strive to strike a balance and to manage our time well so that we won’t get addicted”
Advantages of Gaming
So, is gaming a bad habit? As with everything, there are pros, and then there are cons. Video games can strengthen friendship, and is an excellent way to de-stress after a long day of work for some people.
It has even been proven that a patient needs less anaesthesia during a local anaesthesia surgery if you let them play video games during their surgery!
Another surprising advantage is that for the elderly, video games lower the risk of brain degeneration. Perhaps we should take pro-gamer Missing’s advice on playing video games but just not too much.
Text by Fortune Insight