As the World Health Organization classifies gaming disorder as a mental health condition, one UK treatment centre reveals how it is trying to tackle the problem
Video games are enjoyed by millions of people around the world without any harmful effects whatsoever. Most players will never have to worry about it becoming a problem. But for a small number of people, what starts out as a fun hobby becomes a debilitating habit. Though behavioural addictions like gaming, gambling or sex can be less physically debilitating than similar addictions to drugs or alcohol, their impact can be no less severe. Ian recalls setting up a computer in his dining room, where he’d play until midnight every night – the time his dial-up connection finished – often using drugs and alcohol to allow him to keep gaming.
Though often sensationalised by a tabloid press keen to put the boot into the latest gaming fad, gaming addiction is a real and growing problem. The World Health Organization has listed and defined gaming disorder as a condition warranting further research in the 11th edition of International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), citing an increase in the development of treatment programmes across the world – something that has already started happening in the UK.
A great pull quote from Adam Procter:
The problem is not purely psychological, either, adding another element to the debate.
“All games need a hook,” Adam Procter, programme leader of the GamesDesign and Art BA course at the University of Southampton, says. Designers – somewhat obviously – focus on mechanisms that draw players in, he explains, something that “often involves a level of replayability”.