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Video gaming: A new disorder

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) granted the obsessive gaming phenomenon as a legitimate disorder and included it in the latest International Classification of Disease Edition.

Gaming disorder is a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming, to the point of being unable to control one’s urge to play video games. It is considered a mental health condition, in which playing video games take priority over other interests and activities, without regard to negative consequences.

Researchers know many of the factors that contribute to substance abuse problems, the origins of video game addiction are still unclear. Some researchers believe that bursts in dopamine activity play a hand in the development of this disorder. Dopamine is released during pleasurable activities, such as eating and using drugs and, in a similar fashion its heightened activity may also contribute to video game addiction. Also, some researchers believe that compulsive gamers may also use violent games as a safe way to express anger and aggression.

An addiction can be defined as a chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Basically, any substance or activity that starts to trigger your brain’s reward centres in a way that makes you pathologically pursue relief is addicting. When video games provide you with a thrill by letting you mow down an opponent or hit a new high score, they’re hijacking the same brain circuitry as a shot of liquor.

There are two major types of video games. Standard video games are generally designed to be played by a single player and involve a clear mission, such as rescuing a princess. The addiction in these games is often related to completing that mission.

The other type of video game addiction is associated with online multiplayer games. These games are played online with other people and are especially addictive because they generally have no end. Gamers with this type of addiction enjoy creating and temporarily becoming an online character. They often build relationships with other online players as an escape from reality.

Video game industry statistics:

As per estimates, the video gaming industry in the United States the market was estimated to be worth 16.97 billion USD and the source expects revenues to reach 20.28 billion by 2020. With regard to worldwide estimates in 2016, the market was expected to be worth nearly 75 billion USD and projected revenues to surpass 90 billion USD by 2020.

Revenues in the gaming industry are based on two major sources, namely hardware, such as consoles, processors, screens, controllers and other accessories, and software – the actual games. Nintendo’s Wii Sports, a home video game console released in 2006, is also the best-selling console game in the world, with a little over 82.5 million units shipped.

worldwide, as of 2017, while the life simulation video game series, The Sims 3, is ranked as the best selling PC game of all times, with eight million units sold worldwide. According to one estimate, there were 912 million gamers in Athe Asia Pacific in 2016, and 200 million people playing games in North America at the same time. That year in China, gamers spent 15 percent of their leisure time playing games, the most among measured countries, followed by Brazilians and US gamers. In early 2017 it was found that women accounted for 69 per cent of gamers playing match 3 genres, while at the same time they only represented six per cent of gamers playing racing games.

Signs of video game addiction:

Feelings of anger and frustration when not allowed access to the video game, Feeling depressed or anxious when not playing the game. Experiencing calmness, peacefulness, or euphoria while playing. Distorted perception of time. Experiencing a loss of personal control while playing. The effect on health includes poor sleep pattern, neglect of personal hygiene, irregular eating habits or skipping meals, headaches, dry or red eyes, poor physical health (weight gain or loss). The other symptoms including decreased academic performance, aggressive behaviour when try to stop playing video games. Less time spend socialising with friends and family. Marital, family relationship difficulties resulting from excessive play.

Treatment for Video game Addiction:

Many video game addictions are the result of an inept social being or the result of masking emotions and the treatment revolve around helping the teen, child or adult to become more social, overcome negative emotions and reduce boredom by finding more productive things to do.

Counselling is common in the treatment of video game addiction and provides a foundation for recovery success.

Cognitive behavioural therapy to re-train the thought process from thinking about video games into thinking about more productive thoughts such as playing outside, calling a friend or fulfilling boredom in another way.

Trust building methods to help those who are socially inept to rebuild trust in others so that they can feel comfortable building new relationships.

Wilderness retreats to keep addicts away from technology. These retreats can be highly effective because they completely eliminate all instances of technology which could lead to relapse.

Educational Books – there are many educational resources such as books and online reading that can help those who are addicted to video games to find ways of coping without turning to the gaming unit for help. These self-help books and online intervention programmes can provide a beneficial support and backup system, especially when combined with other methods of treatment.

Dual diagnosis: The combination of both mental illness and addiction leads to what is known as dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is difficult to treat because there must be treatment provided for both the mental health condition and for the addiction at the same time. Treating just one or another will not lead to a full recovery.

  • NAVEED AHAMAD

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