As a prepper for this post, I’d recommend reading on ICD-11 in my two previous posts about the topic. Long story short though, APA’s and WHO’ recognised Gaming Disorder in May of 2019, which is determined by three factors: impaired control over gaming, where a person can’t control intensity, time, context or termination of a playing session; increased priority given to gaming over other daily activities and interests; and constant continuation and escalation of gaming despite its harmful effects on the patient and his surroundings. If these sound somewhat loose, that’s because they are. The determinants can fit any person who has a keen interest and passion to anything ranging from people who go to the gym, dancers, film fanatics and so on. The diagnosis was pushed through despite lacking in hard data and evidence, and unnamed whistleblowers have stated that it passed because of certain Asian countries pushing for it. It’s not hard to see China having its fingers in the pie, considering China has been getting bad rap for its Social status system, and now have put legislative limitations how long a minor can play. There’s also a curfew, disallowing plating games between 22:00 and 08:00. There’s also limitations on how much money people can spend on games.
University of Oxford recently announced results of a study, where they found gaming to have no real psychologically negative impact on their set of 1000 participants. The study found that adolescents’ gaming was more tied to their innate and natural need for competition, competence, autonomy and part of social belonging with their peers as part of their social circles. This isn’t anything new in itself, as play has always been part of human social structure. Despite what adults may tell their kids, even adults play games, be it chess, cards or whatnot. The form of play may change, even become work, but play is necessary link of almost every psyche on this planet. Key findings from the research support this, as most adolescents played at least one Internet game-based game daily, aka some sort of online multiplayer game, less than half online gamers reported symptoms of obsessive gaming, daily players clocked around three hours of highly engaged and motivated playing and there was little evidence of obsessive gaming impacting the participants. While allowing the participants to fill in their own forms and reporting on their behaviour isn’t exactly the best method, we should note their guardians were also part of the study and probably could see their children’s habits a bit better.
However, it would seem like a minority of gamers still found themselves obsessively playing games due to everyday frustrations and psychological satisfactions games bring. It would seem that modern gaming offers similar gateways for escapism as literature and film do, but this time with the element of action, not just inaction. It should not be surprising that a person might find escapist satisfaction in an online multiplayer game, where he might be a grand knight of some sort, whilst in his everyday life he goes unappreciated and his deeds go unnoticed.
Earlier on, Przybylski was part of a study that found no evidence on video games causing violent behaviour. This research has been described as most definitive to date, noting that there are multiple ways to analyse the same data, resulting in opposite results, in which a researcher can intentionally or not practice cherry picking. While there is no correlation between gaming and violence in the study, it does note that gaming affects the player like any other media or non-digital/electronic game. Trash talking in a competitive situation is more or less normal behaviour and even expected. The issue lays less with games themselves than in expected action and sheer nature of competition. Much like how social media doesn’t drive depression (in reality, it is the people on social media that do it, and you can affect how you feel when using social media by choosing what you view and how) and how technology addiction is supposedly lowering quality of life (which has no basis or support behind it), there are assumptions that the consumed form of media is the main culprit behind the unbalanced behaviour rather than the result. Gaming isn’t like smoking tobacco, but obsessive and excessive gaming could be described to be similar why some people smoke three packs a day; their life is stupidly stressful and they have to have some way out, be it by filling themselves with nicotine to calm and relax themselves or competing in a virtual environment where they excel or want to lose themselves in there.
Of course, if there were no video games to be consumed, these people would find some other outlet for their behaviour. There’s a chart floating around, which shows how violent crimes fell right after Doom was released, jokingly suggesting people who otherwise might’ve end up going on the streets and beating people up opted to play a violent game instead. After all, you can get an extremely intense feeling and its release with a video game, perhaps even safer than what would otherwise be possible. While I’m not suggesting games are full replacement for real actions, substitute actions via play is again something very much part of human nature and such things as playfighting is what animals do as well. We’ve just managed to create elaborate virtual environments for that. Forbes has a small article on this, pointing out that there are numerous studies mostly pointing the opposite.
If you’ve read this blog to some extent, you’ve heard all this before, and probably know that the unsaid criticism of modern game studies and industry itself is that it’s nothing new; video and computer games are just the same old games in a new package. Playing games and losing yourself in fiction is nothing new, they have existed in the human psyche for ages. Only the way play has been presented and packaged as has changed. At the base level, playing a game is still a form of competition against or for something. The Gaming Disorder is putting a blame on something that, in reality, has little to do with the lack of mental well-being in daily life that drives some people to obsessive gaming. If there were no modern electronic games, the object of obsession would be something different, like gambling or other from of media. It’s an easy blame for a problem that is hard to handle and solve.