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Video Game Addiction: A Mental Disorder?

nerd_doctor.jpg

Great, just what folks like Jack Thompson and Lyndon LaRouche need -- more ammo. According to Spong, the American Medical Association is "is preparing to recognise 'Internet/video game addiction' as a 'formal diagnostic disorder.'" The proposal is titled the "Report Of The Council On Science And Public Health: Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games" and includes the AMA's definition of a "gamer":

"A gamer is a term used to describe a person who plays games. Historically, a gamer was someone who played role-playing games or war games, but more recently the term has come to include computer and video game players. Although the term technically includes those who do not necessarily consider themselves gamers (ie, casual gamers), it is a commonly used colloquial term to identify persons who spend as much of their leisure time as possible playing or reading about games."

Okay, fine we're gamers; I get that. What I'm more interested in is what the AMA's definition of "addiction" is and how much gaming is too much. I know plenty of people who constantly play video games and are generally functioning and non-destructive (to themselves or others) members of society (see everyone here at GayGamer). Of course, there are the few people who take it too far -- for instance, the few MMORPG players (out of millions) who have died at their keyboards. And as for those who have hurt others or themselves, it's like I've said before: some violent and/or mentally ill people play video games, but video games don't make people violent and/or mentally ill. If that was the case, there would be a lot more crazy people running around (especially in Japan, South Korea and China).

While I'm not opposed to those with video games addictions getting help, I am concerned that new AMA rules will infringe on my game time (as I like to believe that I do not have a mental disorder related to my gaming). The AMA has proposed several calls to action, which include asking the FTC, ESRB and parent-teacher organizations to "review the current ratings system for accuracy and appropriateness relative to content, and establish an improved ratings systems based on a combined effort from the entertainment industry and peer review." However, most of these proposals seem to be aimed at children, and typically no one argues with that. We'll just have to wait and see what happens...

American Doctors Want Videogame 'Addiction' Recognised [Spong]
[via GameLife]

6 Comments

Steven said:

Jack Thompson should probably just prohibit alcohol since it's addictive and causes violence and death.

Ian B. said:

Yes Yes Yes! As an Avid Gamer and a guy working on his Masters in Clinical Psychology I actually have to say I agree strongly with the concept of Video game/Internet Addition being categorized as a disorder. I'd love to see it put into the DSM-V whenever that finally comes around to being published as a mental disorder with strategies for assessment and treatment taken into consideration. It is a problem that does need to be treated for some people as they may not be able to remove themselves from the game and may be affected by it in ways similar to other addictive substances. It isn't comparable to substance abuse, though, as the side effects and treatments as well as prognosis differ so it would be important to define it as a disorder in and of itself.

Now I know what you may be thinking: "This is horrible it will give the crackpots ammunition to use against us etc..." But bear this in mind: A disorder, by definition, is something which directly inhibits normal functioning in everyday life. If a guy skips work or throws away job oportunities or still lives with his parents well into his 30s because he's spending all of his time playing a video game it's safe to say he's addicted. It will be very important for psychologists used in court cases to indicate, however, that not all video games, alone, possess addictive properties. Massive Multi player Online Games, for instance, statistically would be considered more "addicting" than other games such as top-down shooters and fighting games because they require some commitment from the player in the form of actual time vs. a short experience of play and skill application.

As long as this type of definition isn't abused it could be very beneficial to getting help for many of gamers in need of being told they've been playing a little too much and who could receive treatment, such as through therapy, to eventually suppress the urge to play the game constantly or recover from the addictive symptoms.

Could it be abused, however? Yes... Very much so, especially when considering that many people aren't well educated about the types of games and how they differ as well as how "addictive" some may be vs. others. Bear in mind most MMORPG develops put a disclaimer at the game's opening screen for the very reason of legal protection from being sued for the game addicting a player. As long as those precautions are taken I'm sure we wont see warning labels on game boxes that "this game may be addictive." Though I suppose some could argue those types of legislation could be helpful.

Drinnik said:

Is it wrong that the first thing I thought when I saw the picture was:

"And now over to Olly Johnson for a Black-u-Gaming report. Olly?"

"TURN OFF THE DAMN MACHINE!"

"Thank you, Olly."

Rayo said:

I remember this one time I boiled down my SNES and injected it straight into my veins.

Its gave me the greatest high ever

purin said:

Nothing like snorting a line of yoshis off a princess' back.

It's a psychological addiction, in other words, a kind bad habit. People can have bad gaming habits. People can have lots of bad habits with anything. Of course, with games being the big thing everyone's scared of, this could get easily misused.

Perhaps there should be some tweaking the the most addictive games. One of the reasons WOW bores me is because it continues and continues. You're always bumping into people who want more quests while spending forever doing other quests, and you're wondering if you'll ever actually get into Westfall, period, and then once you do you're stuck there forever again. You're always trying to do one more quest, get just a little farther, and that eats up the hours. I got sick of it after a while, but I can see how it can get really life-sucking. It's pretty miserable, actually, because you never are really getting anything done and you feel like you're digging yourself out of a hole.

Perhaps there may be a way to formulate the neverending type games so you feel more like you're getting things done so you can comfortably put it down and get back to it later.

Rosethornn said:

Spending too much time playing games is not a medical issue.

"disorders" like this just make the whole psychiatric industry look painfully desperate.

By all means, go to a help group or something if you think you spend too much time on WoW. But let's not pretend it's a medical disorder, seriously.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Rosethornn on Video Game Addiction: A Mental Disorder?: Spending too much time playing games is not a medical issue. "disorders" like this just make the whole psychiatric industry...

purin on Video Game Addiction: A Mental Disorder?: Nothing like snorting a line of yoshis off a princess' back. It's a psychological addiction, in other words, a kind...

Rayo on Video Game Addiction: A Mental Disorder?: I remember this one time I boiled down my SNES and injected it straight into my veins. Its gave me...

Drinnik on Video Game Addiction: A Mental Disorder?: Is it wrong that the first thing I thought when I saw the picture was: "And now over to Olly...

Ian B. on Video Game Addiction: A Mental Disorder?: Yes Yes Yes! As an Avid Gamer and a guy working on his Masters in Clinical Psychology I actually have...

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