Gaming disorder is no more problematic than other types of addictions

Gabriella Pinos/Staff Writer

“I need to get to level 15.”

My friend glides her fingers across her phone screen at lightning-fast speeds. She serves customers birthday-themed goods in the restaurant app game she’s currently transfixed on.

“They’re making me serve lollipops now,” she says as she continues to decorate her cake.

Finally, she grunts in frustration and puts her phone down. “I lost. I burnt up the food,” she says, chuckling. “This game is an addiction.”

The game she’s referring to is Cooking Craze, which advertises itself as a “feverish” and “addictively fun time management kitchen game.” That, and the fact that it’s free to play, has attracted hundreds of thousands of players to download the game over the past year.

It’s easy to see how people can be absorbed by games such as this one, especially with the plethora of online and mobile titles that have taken the world by storm.

It’s the negative side effects of these games, however, that has also led the World Health Organization to add “gaming disorder” to the 11th edition of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases.

Characterized by persistent gaming behavior, the disorder was added to ICD-11 on June 18, where it, along with gambling, is categorized under “Disorders due to addictive behaviors.” Someone who has a gaming disorder prioritizes video games over life interests and daily activities, and may have impaired control over how much they play, according to the WHO.

If taken too far, gaming can take over a person’s life, leading players to neglect personal care and social wellbeing for just one more round. Even young children are susceptible to the disorder, which has made parents concerned about their child’s gaming habits.

But other than that, there’s nothing that makes a gaming disorder more problematic than any other disorder in the WHO’s list. Everything, from over-the-counter drugs to our phones, can be a drug, which can lead to addictive behavior and, if uncontrollable, even substance abuse disorder.

And yet gaming has taken precedence over other widespread forms of addictive entertainment.

Playing Fortnite for hours is no different than scrolling through Twitter or watching Netflix for hours, yet they are treated differently by the public. We have a problem turning our phones off, but we say it’s necessary for us to be constantly connected to the rest of the world.

It’s also become common, even encouraged, to binge watch an entire season of a TV show in a day. Unlike playing video games, these behaviors aren’t considered to be a mental condition.

In that sense, however, the classification of gaming disorder can have positive repercussions, especially when it comes to internet use.

Unlike gaming disorder, Internet addiction disorder, which encompasses online gaming, shopping and social media use, has not been formally recognized in the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, according to PsyCom.

There have been studies conducted on internet addiction, such as one by the University of Hong Kong in 2014. The study shows that six percent of the world’s population – a staggering 420 million people – are addicted to the internet. However, because addiction differs from a diagnosed disorder, these studies don’t measure the percent of people living with IAD.

The recognition of gaming disorder may help drive research to prove that IAD has become a widespread issue. Doing so can help people take responsibility and seek help for technology habits that have consumed society over the past decade.

But most importantly, we must recognize that all disorders should be treated equally. Whether it be gambling, prescription drugs or Cooking Craze, they all can have a negative effect on a person’s life if taken too far. The next step is leveling the playing field and separating the difference between an addictive pastime and a life-threatening condition.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash.

Infographic created by Gabriella Pinos.

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