Thursday, April 16, 2009

About video games addiction

If asked to define "video game addict," most of us would reply that a video game addict is someone who likes to play a lot of video games. But that definition is as close to the truth as the definition "someone who likes to inject a lot of heroin" is an accurate portrayal of a heroin addict.

Addiction is a psychological disorder that affects the way the brain functions by impacting chemical processes related to motivation, decision making, learning, inhibitory control, and pleasure seeking. Behavioural addictions like gambling and sex are forms of psychological dependence; addictions to substances like drugs and alcohol are forms of both psychological and physical dependence.

Video game addiction is still a newcomer to the field of psychology and is not yet medically recognised as a proper addiction due to the lack of research conducted into its causes and effects. So, while it's common for clinics to specialise in the treatment of drug, alcohol, gambling, sex, and other addictions, it is not common for clinics to specialise in the treatment of video game addiction.

The cases most often cited include a South Korean man who collapsed in an Internet cafe after playing Starcraft for 50 hours; a man in China who died after playing online games for 15 days consecutively; a 13-year-old boy from Vietnam who strangled an elderly lady with a piece of rope because he wanted money to buy games; and a number of cases in the United States involving angry teenagers murdering family members over games and consoles. The fact that the latter cases have more to do with displays of deep mental instabilities rather than addiction was not mentioned in the reports, an omission that no doubt has contributed to the public's widespread confusion about what video game addiction really is.

The last five years have seen a progress in the recognition of video game addiction as a real addiction, with more research dedicated to studying its scope, causes, and effects.
There is currently insufficient research to definitely label video game overuse as an addiction. However, the report's authors used several case studies and surveys to find evidence of video game addiction, arguing that symptoms of time usage and social dysfunction/disruption present in video game overuse also appear in other addictive disorders, and, despite its reluctance to name video game addiction as a definitive mental disorder, the CSAPH recommended that the AMA strongly encourage the inclusion of video game addiction as a formal diagnostic disorder in the upcoming revision of the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).


1 comment:

wrthofnino said...

Wow, this article hits so close to home... I blog about this type of thing all the time over at my page!

I am a recovering Wowaholic (yes, video games ARE an addiction), played for 2 years and almost lost my job, family and wife over my obsession. It was all I could think about, it dominated every waking moment of my conscious, (and unconscious at night) mind.

After years of emotional neglect, my family had finally had enough... I was grossly overweight, unhealthy, and a pain to deal with on a daily basis. I quick one night after things had finally hit rock bottom... gave away all my stuff, said goodbye to my online "friends" and signed off... been 6 months now and I am so happy! I have lost over 85lbs, my health is back and my relationship with my wife and daughter has never been stronger.

Yes, online gaming addiction DOES exist... still don't believe me, check out this website too sad testimony to something so devastating and so misunderstood.