Controversy has been stirred up concerning the fact WHO has added ‘Gaming Disorder’ in its disease classification manual… so of course video game journalists and in-denial gamers are going to fight against this to the death for video games are often their reason to wake up in the morning. Have you seen twitter?! The ignorance is killing me.
Firstly – ‘gaming disorder’ is not official, it has been proposed and needs some tweaking. Secondly addiction has been defined as a brain disorder by ‘The American Society of Addiction Medicine’ so addiction and disorder can be one in the same thing. The majority of the complaints are ‘if gaming is an addiction why isn’t x an addiction’. They have a point – which I will later add to – but they are using it to debunk the disorders existence. Have they not watched TLC? Anything can be an addiction – even sponges.
I’ve hardly found any anti-gaming fear mongering – only clickbait articles and tweets fear mongering about fear mongering. So now I fear mongering about fear mongering about…ok ill stop. I have found several obscure sites debunking the mechanism of video game addiction – trying to distance it from drug addiction which is right because it effects the brain differently. I suppose it is because addiction is a dirty word. The first thing that pops into my head are those rachet before and after photos of Floridian meth heads. Imagine Walter White saying: ‘Jessie we need to stream’. Similar to how food, alcohol and shopping addictions get side-lined – people cannot comprehend that something socially acceptable will KILL THEM (I’m semi exaggerating here).
I found similarities between gaming disorder and another unofficial disorder – Maladaptive Daydreaming. Oh, so you have never heard of Maladaptive Daydreaming? Basically, it is when you compulsively daydream for several hours a day with detailed characters, plot lines and settings. It is like Eastenders in your head but on demand. It was the craze back in 2017 – even BBC news did a report on it. You are probably thinking: ‘everyone day dreams how is this killing me?’ It becomes maladaptive, like how gaming becomes a disorder, when it effects your life, when you start skipping school to lay in your bed and fantasise, or when you become distracted from your work to the point you get fired. It is still misunderstood as to whether it is a dissociative disorder or a type of OCD or something in its own unique category. I find that modern video games enable an element of fantasy. The best games give you the illusion of choice. You create a character, interact with a multiple choice plot and customise your setting by buying a shit load of DLC. The Sims series is the best example. In both day dreaming and gaming the main point is escapism. I understand why gamers are questioning why gaming has been singled out as a disorder when other forms of escapism, such as social media or daydreaming, get ignored. Maybe this is something WHO needs to revaluate.
So why is Maladaptive daydreaming ignored by WHO when the BBC has reported on it? Get your tinfoil hats ready kids – this is my little conspiracy… a video game device is more tangible, more provable. And potentially more economically damaging. It’s sort of an import/export kind of thing – if you are a country that produces these highly addictive games you are going to benefit from sucking the pocket money out of the international youth in DLC and so on. When I was trying to research this topic I found a video of an ex-gaming addict – of course I got an ad for Fortnite. Maybe there is some international gaming industry industrial military complex. Then you get those horror stories of toddlers that spend a grand on their parents tablet games. That is the gamer stereotype anyways – a money sucking lazy child.
When you think of a videogame addict you probably think of some bratty 15-year-old with anger issues and weak parents that needs to take shower… or some 37 year old man child, with intimacy issues, that is still living with said weak parents, that needs to take a shower himself…. We see these two characters in any stock image collection.
We assign immaturity to video games – probably because all creative mediums are for kids and man-children…but that is another discussion for a later article. We need to humanise these addicts and make the conversation more mature. It is likely they are escaping from a harsh reality and have no other way to vent their emotions. In a world where we are lacking physical contact, a world where men aren’t allowed to express emotion in the first place. I am not surprised gaming disorder sparked so much defensiveness. This technological age has dehumanised us to the point where we cannot accept our own weaknesses but at the same time we can except the very thing that helps us escape from reality WILL KILL YOU (I’m still joking-ish).