The geek in me has been excited to get into this topic. It’s such a controversial subject in regards to videos games and how it affects the human mind. Many have said video games causes psychopaths to cause bombing, mass shootings, or any kind of harm within their community. Then there are individuals that believe video games do the complete opposite. It actually helps individuals to make friends within the gaming community, blow off steam, and great way to exercise. Let’s explore the world of video games and how it affects people’s mental health.
But first let’s time travel into the past and see how video games became one of the biggest things since slice bread. It all started in the 1950s when computer scientist created games and simulation for fun (3D tic-tac-toe) or research (the moon landing). It was the 70’s and 80’s it hit mainstream. It was the because of the entire rave in arcades and gaming consoles. Ever since then, the 8-bit trend had made wave into households. As time progresses the pixelated viewing has definitely upgraded to one of the most beautiful graphics and it keeps getting better.
According to Forbes, the gaming industry has made 152.1 billion dollars. The video game industry is growing so fast that some believe it will reach over $300 billion by 2025. With billions of dollars in profit and over 2.5 billion gamers around the world, we can expect video game platforms to continue developing in 2020. Just by the numbers alone, we all know this is a booming industry and there’s no slowing down any time soon.
Though it is fascinating to know it’s humble beginnings has grown into this multi-billion dollars phenomenon, how does it affect mental health? Well, WHO (World Health Organization), have added gaming disorder into ICD-11 (11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases). Gaming disorder is characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.
Gaming disorder was included because it was based on reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of technical consultations undertaken by WHO in the process of ICD-11 development.
The inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 follows the development of treatment programs for people with health conditions identical to those characteristic of gaming disorder in many parts of the world, and will result in the increased attention of health professionals to the risks of development of this disorder and, accordingly, to relevant prevention and treatment measures.
Gaming disorder is a newly classified condition in the WHO’s ICD-11. Therefore, there isn’t a lot of statics. But from the following research thus far, it displays it’s a crucial enough to keep an eye for. For instance, over half the U.S. population plays video games and 1 in 10 American gamers will develop video game addiction. That’s nearly 3 million people. Also, like anything else, seeking out therapy will be the way for treatment.
Does this mean that video games are bad and we should keep away? Well before we start a fire pit to burn consoles and games, let’s take a step back. Actually several… There are video games out there that specifically targets mental health. Actually slowly more and more mental health professionals are getting involved in the gaming world. One of the reasons why is that it’s hard for many people to have access to therapy. So coming up with a cheaper, fun, and more accessible alternative way to manage the illness is a game changer (no pun intended).
Dr. Barbara S. McCann, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences from the University of Washington, said she became intrigued by games as a coping device after hearing a news story about “Space Invader Thumb,” a phrase that was coined to describe a repetitive stress injury from playing the game. “I had always played games as a way to cope,” she said. “I started with pinball and moved on to the early games like Space Invaders. When I heard how people were studying games from a negative standpoint, it made think about ways games could be positive, as well.” This first spark of interest has played a huge role in her career and how she helps her patients. Dr. McCann also praised mobile games, especially augmented reality games like Pokémon Go or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, because they encourage the player to “get out and do things,” which can be hugely beneficial, but also a challenge for those suffering from depression or social anxiety disorder.
Also, there are people in the gaming industry that has mental illnesses and want to help people with the mental health world to manage it better. They want to give back, because they know it feels like. Therefore, they create games for people who have PTSD, anxiety, depressions and so forth. Jimmy Chi, a support operations lead at Humble Bundle, pointed to the growing number of games in which the goal is much simpler than traditional games. He brought up a game called Pet the Pup at the Party, where the player is placed in a party where he or she doesn’t know anyone and is encouraged to cope by finding dogs throughout the house to pet. It’s a way to help the gamer feel more comfortable in a new social setting.
A different way to cope with your problems is to look them straight in the face and try to relate to characters in games that are going through the same issues you are. Game developers recommended a game called Ten Candles, a tabletop game where the end of the world is imminent and the player is tasked with telling the story of the character in his or her last few hours of life. It’s a real exercise in bringing closure to something and finding peace with it, which can be applied to something you might be dealing with yourself… except for the end-of-the-world part.
In my opinion, video games are great. I believe they serve a wonderful purpose for stress. Just as long it doesn’t consumes someone’s life, I believe it’s okay. If an individual still make time to see/talk to people they care about, don’t call out of work, take of chores / errands, and most of all practice safe care, then game away. Once it becomes an individual spending days in front of the screen and nothing else, then there is something seriously wrong and the person need immediate help.
What do you think? Do you think video games are a bad thing or a good thing? Do you play video games? If so, which one do you play to help with stress? I was thinking about creating entries about video games that helps with mental health and give a “review”. What do you think about the idea? Please let comment below. I love reading comments from my readers. Until next time, game one day at a time… lol!
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