It was recently announced that The World Health Organization would be classifying video game addiction as a treatable medical condition, and that they had added it to it their ‘disease bible’. This has raised eyebrows in some cases and has become something of a debatable topic, but the crux of the matter is, video game addiction seems to be a growing problem, and steps need to be taken to address it.
Whereas many accept that gambling addiction is an issue, and those that offer casino games should do so in a way that promotes both how fun this type of entertainment can be and the responsible behaviour players should implement, the spotlight is now on video games and the harm that they can cause people of all ages.
The Kendal Parmar Campaign
The core of the move to officially list video game addiction as a disorder lies with a woman named Kendal Parmar. Parmar passionately campaigned for her son to get treatment, after she explained the severity of his addiction to the game Fortnite. According to Parmar her son, aged 15, was so addicted to the game that he did not attend school for a full year.
She stated that her son was even admitted to hospital for 8 weeks after his ability to function was all but entirely impaired. Upon leaving hospital, vitamin D tablets were prescribed in order to help the boy reverse severe lack of sunlight symptoms.
After determined campaigning efforts, Parmar finally managed to get her son clinically diagnosed with addiction. The World Health Organisation then made the move to officially list video game addiction as a mental disorder. The result is that now, treatment for video game addiction will be incorporated into healthcare systems.
Parmar is relieved, saying that her son had been all but lost to her. She hopes that her son’s “all consuming addiction” will soon be brought under control and that others will benefit from the ruling.
Fortnite – Ticket To Addiction?
The game in question that Parmar’s son was addicted to is Fortnite. Fortnite is relatively new, rising to mass popularity in mid-2017. Today, the game boasts around 40 million players, making it the biggest video game in the world.
The style and nature of Fortnite is not new to video game design at all. Its core gameplay is a simple take on Battle Royale. This involves 100 players dropping onto a virtual island, quickly gathering weapons, and eliminating one another until ultimately a single winning player, or player team, is declared. One of the key reasons for Fortnite’s mass success is that it is free, with the only options to spend real money based around digital cosmetic items.
In winning, players are rewarded points, which may also be spent on cosmetic items. No real money of any kind is traded for victories.
Should Gaming Addiction Be Taken Seriously?
Debates are raging all over the Internet as to whether video game addiction really should be treated as a mental disorder. Many are stating that it is more a case of discipline and poor parenting as opposed to real, classifiable addiction. Others counter with the statement that addiction exists in all shapes and forms.
Matt Hancock, the British Culture Secretary, went on record to say that addictive video games can be very harmful to children. This was backed up by reports that many medical experts fear the effects of violent, addictive video games on developing minds. By recently released statistics, around 4% of children are at risk of video game addiction.
Regardless of on going debate, video game addiction is now official, and parents can seek treatment for their children on the NHS in the United Kingdom. This will save roughly £350 per session, which is the average cost of private therapy. Across the rest of the world it will be interesting to see what sort of treatment programs arise, although there are already private rehabilitation centres that say they have treated patients for video game addiction, and now that the disorder has been formally recognised, these numbers may well sky rocket.