OPINION: What’s the problem with gaming

There’s probably a handful of games that I beat 100 per cent.

One of those games was the third installment to the Metal Gear Solid franchise. The game was called Snake Eater (for gamers reading this I preferred the Subsistence edition as it had better camera control over the first release). Basically, you play this macho super spy during the Cold War. Your character Naked Snake (not actually a snake, nor naked) has to unravel a complicated plot to destroy America while dealing with betrayal and fighting off starvation in a Russian jungle. It’s a blast and kept me entertained for hours.

I’ve beaten the game on every level including the more difficult ones. I’ve lost days to this game.

Was I addicted? I don’t think so but maybe I was.

The World Health Organization might have categorized it as such since they have now added video game disorder to the list of International Classification of Diseases.

The organization describes video game disorder as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming; 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

The thing is gaming is very addictive especially modern games where you get to play online against friends or strangers around the world. There’s rewards and incentives to keep you playing for hours. Big companies have even started introducing microtransactions using real-world money to help advance a player faster or to access exclusive content. These types of moves aren’t going over well though with the most recent example being EA Games. The company in their latest Star Wars game tried to tie progress to microtransactions but after backlash from fans, it was swiftly removed.

Being addicted to a video game shouldn’t come as a surprised to anyone especially if someone has walked into a casino recently. Most of the gambling games are digital, so wouldn’t that count as a video game?

WHO says before gaming disorder can be diagnosed the behaviour patterns have to be sufficiently severe to cause harm to personal, family, social, education and occupation.

This is the part I want to highlight the most. Someone spending a weekend playing World of Warcraft online with their friends shouldn’t automatically be classified as suffering from this mental health problem.

Gaming provides people a chance to live out fantasies and be a part of a larger community. Back in the day, it was a social norm to invite your friends over to your house to play a game on the couch. Now you meet online and form teams to take on gamers from around the world.

Ultimately, gaming is like anything else in life where you need to balance work, family and other responsibilities. Just because you know someone who would rather stay inside and game than play something outside doesn’t mean they have a disorder. They could simply be trying to achieve something that means a lot to them.


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