Feature

Life Paused, Game On

OPINION |

In 2018, an Australian 14-year-old boy gave his mum a concussion after headbutting her for taking away his access to video games. In 2012, a 23-year-old died from a suspected heart attack after playing League of Legends for 23 hours straight. In June 2018, the World Health Organisation’s inclusion of gaming disorder explained that it is a pattern of gaming behaviour, characterised by an increasing priority towards gaming over other activities, and a continuation or escalation of gaming, despite negative consequences. The pattern of behaviour must be of sufficient severity and would normally be evident for at least 12 months.

Dr Philip Tam (2018), one of Australia’s leading pioneers in the emerging field of ‘internet-related psychology’ has expressed his professional opinion about the issues surrounding internet gaming.

“To be fair, all types of games, even 2-minute smartphone ones, have this potential (to be popular and addictive). From my experience, the most compelling are indeed the MMORPG’s / fantasy games (such as League of Legends and DOTA), possibly because they offer a seductive ‘complete alternate universe’ in the gameplay.”

Dr P. Tam (2018)
Photograph by Shakil Sharma

“It appears many of the deaths by internet overuse (mainly in East Asia) were youths playing these types of games. I think (the World Health Organization’s definition of gaming disorder) is rather simplistic, and brief, and doesn’t take into account deeper, ‘psychodynamic’ factors which are important in all addictions. But it is a start. I don’t think that the ‘6 month’ criterion is fair – you can have a major issue with less than this amount.”

Dr P. Tam (2018)

A survey was conducted to find out the habits & perspectives on the weekly video game activities of those in Brisbane. The results of the survey revealed that of the 16 respondents, 25% were spending up to and in excess of 7 hours playing video games over a 7-day period, 18.8% were spending 4 to 6 hours and the majority (50%) were spending 1 to 3 hours.

Neal Lai, one of the Brisbane respondents gave an interesting insight to his online gaming experience.

“It can give me relaxation and a sense of achievement, and that’s enough. A good game should be like an artwork in the museum which is useless, but with high artistry and can give people a sense of feeling.”

Neal Lai

The results also revealed that 25% of respondents indicated that their internet gaming habit was most likely the cause of significant relationship issues while 56.3% indicated that online gaming had least likely been a cause for jeopardizing significant relationships/friendships.  25% of respondents also indicated that their internet gaming habit was most likely the cause of significant relationship issues while 50% indicated that online gaming had least likely been a cause for jeopardizing job, educational or career opportunities.

Further research into the topic of gaming disorder is still in relative infancy. The actions taken by the World Health Organization is an important step in providing further assistance and support to medical professionals regarding diagnosis.

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