What is Gaming Disorder?
Does video game addiction exist? Who does it impact? Is it truly something we should be concerned about? Dr. Diez-Morel answers all this. Video gaming, online gaming, gaming, computer gaming, and electronic gaming are interchangeable terms often used to describe playing video games. Each term can encompass a varying form, genre, and style of video gaming. Very often, video gaming is played with multiple players, in person and/or virtually. The other players we connect with can be known family, friends or anyone halfway around the world. When immersed in online video games, we are globally connected to an often-limitless world where cooperation with other players is essential to achieve advancement. Having these collaborative experiences with other players develops into forming a social support system of online friends to achieve their collective goal of advancement in game. Kind of like in our physical world, where collaboration in work, school, and with family and friends helps up to achieve advancement in our life, to live our best lives. Thus, I would like to say that video gaming within itself is not ‘good or bad’. There are a number of positive experiences, meaningful impacts, and physiological benefits that research has found certain games can have.
Does video game addiction exist?
The short answer is YES. However, that simplified answer doesn’t provide the full picture. Human behavior and, especially addictive behavior, is complex and people don’t go from non-addiction to addiction overnight. Rather, video game playing can be seen on a continuum from those who play at leisure, those who play competitively, and those whose video game playing is causing risk to their quality of life. Often this looks like video gaming taking precedence in a person’s life to the level that it is impacting their relationships with family, friends, employer and school. It can also have a significant impact on their physical and mental health, and when a combination of these issues arises, there is concern for the well-being of that person and seeking a trained clinical expert to help is the best approach.
Who does it impact?
Gaming disorder does not only impact the individual, but also affects their loved ones. In terms of prevalence, the vast majority of youth and adults who engage in video game play are doing so as a form of entertainment and do not meet the threshold for gaming disorder (i.e. video game addiction). However, as gaming becomes more accessible and available to individuals all across the globe, there is a possibility that it can impact individuals of all ages, race identities, ethnic identities, gender identities, and sexual orientations.
Is it truly something we should be concerned about?
Those who are impacted by gaming disorder or are experiencing problematic gaming that is interfering with their life is very concerning. Increasing the amount of time spent gaming or engaging in activities related to gaming can lead to reduced productivity with school or work, or less time sleeping which directly impacts physical and mental health. An example would be using too many ‘sick days’ at work to game and getting written up or fired because of it. Internationally, gaming disorder has been recognized as a concerning behavior for many and in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognized Internet Gaming Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). Most recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) included Gaming Disorder in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The WHO defines Gaming Disorder as a pattern of “video-gaming behavior characterized by impaired control over gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over all other interests and daily. activities, to the point of continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences” (WHO, 2018). All this provides support that gaming disorder is real, it is concerning, and it impacts individuals and their loved ones.
If you have noticed some of these behaviors in yourself or other, you are not alone. Many have also experienced the loss of relationships, jobs, and money from video game overuse.
Know that if you want to talk about it, and understand the 'why' behind this behavior, that we are here to listen and help. Feel free to chat, call, or message us.
Thank you for your interest in Reboot & Recover.