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Some interesting debate going on regarding gaming addiction at the moment. I’m not sure that I have ever really suffered from gaming addiction but I am someone that has struggled with other types of addiction, so I understand the subject. I’m not sure that I really accept gaming addiction to be a thing though, if I am honest. It just seems like the latest straw that parents and the anti-video game brigade are clutching at to make a point and deflect the attention away from their own shortcomings and lack of control over their children.

The centre of the debate seems to be children playing games like Fortnite, with media reports of children staying up all night and soiling themselves while playing; temper tantrums and outburst of physical violence when parents try to stop them playing. Everything that I read seems to point more towards obsessive compulsion rather than actual addiction and nothing that couldn’t be remedied by taking TVs out of the kids’ bedrooms and setting up proper parental controls on the consoles. You might get the temper tantrums, you might get the outbursts of physical violence, but I am sure that it will quickly subside and things will soon go back to normal once proper control is asserted.

The dictionary definition of addiction is ‘the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity’ so I guess that you could argue that games can be addictive, but as an addiction it is not similar to substance addiction which is in most cases a physical addiction to a substance that makes people physically ill if they do not get it; or a mental addiction which causes dependency meaning that you would struggle to sleep or suffer considerable anxiety of distress if you did not take it.

Gaming would fall more on the side of mental addiction. But for me, the reason that I don’t recognise it as such is that in the case of young people a lot of the compulsion to play video games comes from more of a social influence. By that I mean that a lot of these kids are playing the game because their friends are and they want bragging rights at school the next day or to be included as part of a social group in school whereby meeting up online to play games is an extension of that interaction; once the fad for Fortnite dies down they will probably move onto the next game.

I guess the crux of my issue is with the fact that unlike other addictions social influences play a much wider role in the compulsion to play video games. You could say that is true of drugs and you would have a point/ When people first start taking substances there probably is a social influence, but by the time somebody becomes addicted to substances social influence takes more a back seat and the physical or mental addiction to the substance becomes the driver.

I am sure that the World Health Organization haven’t taken the decision to include gaming addiction in the 11th International classification of diseases (ICD) lightly and plenty of countries worldwide have identified gaming addiction is a major public health issue. But while I accept that there is an issue with obsessive compulsive gaming, for me it doesn’t quite push into the realms of addiction.
Rickandrolla (PSN ID)

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