A week after E3, an expo that famously displays new game content, the World Health Organization announced that they are officially recognizing gaming addiction as a mental disorder.
For a long time, the idea of having a gaming disorder has always been a debate. Even now as I write this, I ask myself, "is this for real?" Technically, you could become addicted to anything--your phone, working out, or even the internet. It all comes down to priorities. I personally define an addition as something that stops you from showcasing your full potential and living your best life; Instead, it begins to create a harmful lifestyle that prevents you from excelling.
In the wake of an era where Fortnite dominates the gaming world, it opens up the conversation to individuals and most importantly, concerned parents whether or not too much gaming may be detrimental to one's health. I for one, think so.
I've been there, I think anyone who plays video games has been there; For me, it was Kingdom Hearts. I couldn't possibly begin to explain the numerous of times where I've lost track of time, sometimes even forgetting to eat. It's very frightening how consumed into the gameplay you can be. Maybe you're on a win streak, or your friends are online, or a new update has been released--there's always a factor that draws a gamer in.
But what truly defines someone with a gaming disorder? The WHO has determined three major factors that weigh in and deem whether or not you have a gaming disorder.
1. Impaired Control .
How long and how much you play is a key factor whether or not you may suffer from this disorder. Ideally, you could play only when your friends are online, a few times a week, but if you're playing every day, all day, there might be an issue. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you should never spend more than an hour or two in front of a screen; That's about fourteen hours a week!
Have you slept? Have you spoken to your friends or family recently? Do your eyes feel ok? What about your head? Have you gone to class? Have you showered? If you answered No to any of these questions, you might want to reconsider your actions.
3. Escalation or continuation of gaming despite negative consequences..
When the new competitive season for Overwatch came out, my roommate never left his room. He stopped eating at regular times, slept at extremely odd hours, and was in constant state of gaming. His health started to decline and he knew it too but he couldn't stop despite the bags under his eyes or the weakness he felt every time he stood up. He was so fixated on the idea of being "Top 500" in an online community; He didn't care about the consequences he was facing.
When the W.H.O. made the announcement, there was a divide in the gaming community. Some were genuinely concerned if they fell into the category of having a gaming addiction, while others considered this a sham. Some gamers in the community stream their content and monetize their channel, giving subscribers perks that others don't have. The gamers opposing this stance by the W.H.O. have stated that not enough evidence is being provided and more research needs to be conducted before this can be officially deemed a mental disorder. They have proposed a counter argument stating that video games may be an excellent coping mechanism, beneficial in various ways (i.e. hand-eye coordination, strategy, etc.), and a way for individuals to connect.
Although video games have a many great benefits as well, it's all about moderation. Too much of anything could potentially be harmful, even gaming.