What on earth is Video Games Day?
Who comes up with this stuff?
What do we need to know about Video Games?
What global awareness would we benefit from knowing?
What is Google and the websites relating to video games telling us?
Are we ready to know more about the impact of video gaming online?
Are we aware of the scope and size of the video gaming problem?
Are we prepared to take a look at some real life facts about video gaming?
WHY are there two days for Video Games Day?
What is the purpose of these games’ days?
WHY have video games become so popular worldwide?
WHY are we not recognising that long periods of time spent in isolation with video games affects the way a person thinks and feels?
WHY is there a correlation with social anxiety and low self-esteem around video gaming?
WHY have video game addictions not been officially recognised within the medical field?
WHY are the psychological symptoms of video game addiction almost identical to those associated with substance based addictions, like drugs and alcohol?
Definition of Video Game
An electronic game played by means of images on a video screen and often emphasizing fast action. (1)
History of Video Games
1972 – Odyssey was the 1st officially acknowledged video game. (2)
Here is what the official websites are telling us about this day –
Gaming is a pervasive part of our culture, colouring everything from our choices in clothing to our taste in cuisine, there are even themed restaurants that are entirely dedicated to gamers and the games they love.
Video Games Day is dedicated to recalling this defining part of our culture and sharing it with our fellow gamers, new and old alike. (3)
The website tells us how to celebrate Video Games Day by getting together with friends, dig out our old consoles and play favourites and share with the newest generation of gamers. They suggest to play an event with game themed food and costumes and decorations.
Video Games Day is an excuse to go down a path of digital reminiscence. (3)
Video game players across the United States enjoy this day with much pride and enthusiasm. (4)
There are two special days for video gamers –
Video Games Day – 8 July
This is our chance to relish with our favorite video games in a local level.
National Video Games Day – 12 September
Nationally established celebration for video games.
Essentially, these two days are ‘good chances for you to sit back and enjoy a video game marathon as a way to celebrate the significant progress of video games.’ (2)
Do we all agree that video games have made our recreation time more enjoyable?
Is the video games world taking us away from our natural state as it is mind-challenging?
Can we subscribe and call this ‘bonding’ time if we are fixed on a screen playing a game?
It would be true to say that video game activity is the norm among children and teenagers.
Computers, Xboxes and any hand held device means the games can be played anytime and anywhere we want. (5)
Many parents may welcome what these games bring, when children are spending all their time playing games but is this the modern day answer to parenting?
When our kids start to neglect and ignore other areas of life to play video games, common sense would tell us that we need to be asking questions.
1 in 10 gamers showed signs of addiction from an online poll by leading academic. (6)
Professor Vladan Starcevic – Medicine Department of Sydney’s Nepean Hospital
Addiction.com gives us Signs of Video Game Addiction to consider –
Psychological Signs of Video Game Addiction
Preoccupation with Video Games
Physical Signs of Video Game Addiction
Poor Personal Hygiene
Behavioral Signs of Video Game Addiction
Declining Interest in School Performance
Loss of Interest in Other Activities
Relationship Signs of Video Game Addiction
Conflicts with Others (5)
Other Signs of Video Game Addiction
Using video games as a way to cope with unresolved issues, places children at risk of developing more serious addictions when they get older.
Like adults caught up in addiction, children struggling with video game addiction will run into problems in other areas of life and may show in –
Poor academic performance
Disregard for personal hygiene
Behaviour problems at school
Emotional outbursts when confronted about gaming behaviours. (7)
Video games can take the form of computer games, online games and even portable hand held games. Like the urges and cravings that drive substance-based addictions like drugs and alcohol, compulsive video gaming develops into its own lifestyle. (6)
WHY has gaming addiction got so bad and what are we doing?
WHY do gaming addicts suffer from carpel tunnel syndrome?
WHY do these people isolate themselves in their room?
WHY do gaming addicts live on two to three hours sleep each night?
WHY do they live on chocolate and caffeine?
WHY is procrastination a pattern in those with gaming addiction?
Recent studies have shown that adults who play video games have higher levels of happiness, and in some cases relaxation, as a result of their gaming. (4)
Games serve as a sense of accomplishment and make us feel great, not just in a personal sense but in a multiplayer sense.
That feeling of taking down the final boss of the final level of the game with your best friends is totally awesome and totally priceless. (4)
Video games can serve as an escape from our sometimes boring and monotonous lives.
Long day at work?
Nothing like a fight against a big boss in Sonic the Hedgehog, a good old-fashioned Mario Kart race or a dose of Mindcraft world-building to wash your cares away. (4)
Firstly, who is funding studies claiming higher levels of happiness as a result of gaming?
If this is working then can we do further studies to see how all of their other lifestyle choices are and how their true health and well-being is?
If a sense of accomplishment is totally priceless then how long does it really last?
Is it possible that we may need more of it to keep going and this can lead to addiction?
Would it be wise to find out WHY we find our life boring and monotonous so we never need to escape with video games?
What is a fight on screen really doing to us inside?
How does a kart race change anything in our real daily life?
How can a dose of Mindcraft wash our cares away and WHY do we need to keep building a false world inside our mind and play it out on a screen?
How does this support us to grow and learn about the Responsibility of Life?
How does this help us to evolve?
$91 billion dollar Global Gaming Industry (8)
Gamer Addiction: A Threat to Student Success! What Advisors Need to Know
By Lee Kem – Murray State University. College of Education. (9)
This in-depth study was published in 2005 spelling out what we need to know about gaming addiction.
Video games are designed to keep the player riveted to action.
Players experience a sense of control when they enter into the fantasy world of speed, realism, violence and new morals. (9)
Many games offer online anonymous interaction with other people; a ‘hook’ is a sense of family or belonging in the form of a pseudo persona the player develops when repeatedly playing the game. The longer the game is played, the more the pseudo persona can replace reality. (9)
Game playing often begins with boredom; the excitement becomes the reward.
This behaviour is reinforced on an intermittent reinforcement schedule – the most powerful type of reinforcer. The college classroom comes into direct competition with the daily reinforcement from the video games.
Playing provides an alternative reality in which problems are solved and success and reward is possible.
When life seems out of control, the game provides a sense of control.
If life becomes difficult or stressful, the game will provide an avenue of escape from Responsibility and Reality. (9)
So what on earth have we done about this 12 years later?
WHY was this study not taken as a revelation back in those days?
WHY did we not follow up what this man was saying to the world?
WHY have we not got the details of this study on front page headlines?
WHY are we so ill informed by the media about this type of stuff?
WHY are very few bringing awareness to us about the harm of video gaming?
Characteristics of Addiction
Gamer addiction has the basic identifying characteristics of all addictions.
These tend to be progressive and cyclic. (9)
- More pleasure derived from playing video games than anything else
- Sense of well-being or euphoria while playing
- Guilt because of the amount of time spent playing the games
- Lack of attention to other issues
- When not engaging in the activity, individual constantly thinks about the activity
- Gaming controls the thoughts
- Craves more and more time with activity
- Neglects everything to play the video games:
- Denies and lies about the amount of time devoted to playing
- Denies and lies about expenses involved in playing
- Will lie to protect source of pleasure and good feelings
- Angry when something/someone interferes with activity
- Feels empty, depressed, irritable when not at computer or gaming
Unable to Control
- Engages in game playing after deciding not to do so
- Decides to play one hour; plays three, four or all night
- Compulsively keeps investing time and money
- Money spent on addiction before paying for food, rent etc.,
- Compulsively keeps investing time and money
- A high followed by a low
- Cure is to play again and regain the high
- A deeper low follows and the cycle is repeated
The following has 4 focus areas that can assist in identification of possible gaming addicts in academic environment:
- Lack of interest in attending class
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Weight loss
- Back problems
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Sleeps in class
- Avoids eye contact
- Lack of sleep
- Does not eat regularly
- Games up to 20 hours at a time
- Missing class
- Assignments not completed
- Argumentative with professors
- Suspension (9)
The two major indicators of Gamer Addiction are withdrawal and isolation.
The common thread in addiction is an emotional dysregulation.
Individuals are often –
Afraid to go out
In high family conflict situations
Low self esteem
This then affects all relationships.
Players have difficulty separating the game of fantasy world and reality. (9)
The compulsive playing tends to cover these underlying psychological problems.
(Cromie, 1999) (9)
85% boys and 65% girls are game players = 960 students addicted out of 10,000. (9)
Many students, choosing gaming over academics has become the norm.
Gamer Addiction is an obsession with video game playing that usually begins in elementary and middle school.
By college, the individual progresses from simple to elaborate games and the student is game-hooked. An activity becomes an addiction when it is used to change an individual’s mood.
Computer use become Abuse when it interferes with ‘one’s work or school, or disrupts personal or family relationships, and becomes increasingly necessary to feel good. (10)
Marshall, age 25, was living on soda drink full of sugar and caffeine.
‘I would get weak from not eating but I would only notice it when I got so shaky I stopped being able to think and play well.’
Charlie aged 28, was suicidal and lost his job when he realised his online gaming was totally out of control.
He started playing video games around age 4 and was addicted by the age of 9.
Peter aged 31, the low came when he had been homeless for six months and was living in his car.
He was addicted to Internet porn, masturbating six to ten times a day, to the point where he was bleeding but would continue.
When he was not doing that, he was so immersed in the fantasy battle game World of Warcraft that in his mind, he was no longer a person sitting at a screen, but an avatar: ‘shooting guns and assassinating the enemy’ as he ran through a Tolkien-esque virtual realm.
If he wasn’t doing that, he would read online news reports obsessively and exercise his political opinions, projecting himself pseudonymously as a swaggering blogger-cum-troll. (8)
Peter says “Looking back now, I think a lot of male problematic behaviour is channelled into killing people on screen. I had anger against the world. A paradoxical mix of entitlement and worthlessness and being upset that my life wasn’t going the way I wanted it to.
I have noticed a lot of the trends in games are about ‘my father is lost and I have to find him’ on some quest.”
These three men talk about venting frustrations online and boys not being taught how to communicate with each other very well. (8)
This rehab centre helps residents, mainly men withdraw from technology that has consumed their lives.
“There is not consistent criteria to measure this yet, nor is there agreement in psychiatry that one can be addicted to the Internet. Research has accumulated to the point where something called Internet Gaming Disorder has made its way into the back section of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), meaning it is being considered for future possible inclusion.” (8)
Hilarie Cash – Psychotherapist – Chief Clinical Officer at reSTART rehab Center, Washington
The DSM is the handbook of the American Psychiatric Association and is considered the standard US reference book for mental health.
It has now included Gambling Disorder for the first time, after 40 years of study.
“Gambling became the first behavioral addiction to be recognised and that opened up the mind-boggling concept that behaviors alone can be addictive – and just as powerful as a chemical addiction.
The chase and reward patterns of betting, hooking up or advancing in a competitive video game are not unlike a drug high and can be similarly compulsive even though a foreign substance is not being introduced to the bloodstream.
The way a gamer’s brain lights up in euphoria and builds up a tolerance to the rewards, distorting the neuro pleasure pathways over time, is similar to a cocaine addict.
Some games are much more addictive than others and they are designed that way, especially the endless massively multiplayer online role-playing games largely designed by men to appeal to males”.
Hilarie Cash – Psychotherapist – Chief Clinical Officer at reSTART rehab Center, Washington (8)
Is this a wake-up call and should we be paying attention to this woman who is concerned that parents don’t understand how addictive screens are for little children and detrimental to their mental development, especially interactive activities? This woman is alarmed about the dangers of the nascent virtual reality medium.
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) – innovation in the area of online computer gaming.
This pilot study examined the psychological and social effects of online gaming. (11)
Gamers ranging from age 18 to 69 years.
41% gamers played online to escape.
Further analysis showed that excessive online gaming was significantly correlated with psychological and behavioural ‘dependence’.
It was also found that ‘dependent’ gamers appear to possess some core components of addiction to MMORPGs (e.g., mood modification, tolerance and relapse).
International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
October 2009 (11)
What on earth is going on if back then in 2009 we knew the dangers of online gaming?
WHY have we not bothered to take these guys seriously who carried out this study?
WHY are we waiting for more and more research when we can simply join the dots?
WHY have we become so adamant on more research to keep proving what we all know?What have we been doing for the past 8 years about the effects of MMORPGs?
Can we blame those who supply the games or is it us making the demands so they give it to us?
Are those who seek to benefit making sure we keep getting more and more regardless of the consequences?
Are we ok with the harm this is causing us, our kids, our families, our communities, our country and our world?
Internet Gaming Disorder (DSM-5) (12)
Persistent and recurrent use of the Internet to engage in games, often with other players, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as indicated by five (or more) of the following in a 12-month period:
- Preoccupation with Internet games. (The individual thinks about previous gaming activity or anticipates playing the next game; Internet gaming becomes the dominant activity in daily life).
Note: This disorder is distinct from Internet gambling, which is included under gambling disorder.
- Withdrawal symptoms when Internet gaming is taken away. (These symptoms are typically described as irritability, anxiety, or sadness, but there are no physical signs of pharmacological withdrawal.)
- Tolerance – the need to spend increasing amounts of time engaged in Internet games.
- Unsuccessful attempts to control the participation in Internet games.
- Loss of interests in previous hobbies and entertainment as a result of, and with the exception of Internet games.
- Continued excessive use of Internet games despite knowledge of psychosocial problems.
- Has deceived family members, therapists, or others regarding the amount of Internet gaming.
- Use of Internet games to escape or relieve a negative mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety).
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of participation in Internet games.
Only non-gambling Internet games are included in this disorder.
Internet gaming disorder can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the degree of disruption of normal activities. Individuals with less severe Internet gaming disorder may exhibit fewer symptoms and less disruption of their lives. Those with severe Internet gaming disorder will have more hours spent on the computer and more severe loss of relationships or career or school opportunities.
There are no well-researched subtypes for Internet gaming disorder to date. Internet gaming disorder most often involves specific Internet games, but it could involve non-Internet computerized games as well, although these have been less researched.
Gambling disorder is currently the only non-substance-related disorder proposed for inclusion with DSM-5 substance-related and addictive disorders. However, there are other behavioral disorders that show some similarities to substance use disorders and gambling disorder for which the word addiction is commonly used in nonmedical settings, and the one condition with a considerable literature is the compulsive playing of Internet games.
Internet gaming has been reportedly defined as an “addiction” by the Chinese government, and a treatment system has been set up. Reports of treatment of this condition have appeared in medical journals, mostly from Asian countries and some in the United States.
The DSM-5 work group reviewed more than 240 articles and found some behavioral similarities of Internet gaming to gambling disorder and to substance use disorders.
The literature does describe many underlying similarities to substance addictions, including aspects of tolerance, withdrawal, repeated unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit, and impairment in normal functioning. Further, the seemingly high prevalence rates, both in Asian countries and, to a lesser extent, in the West, justified inclusion of this disorder in Section III of DSM-5.
Internet gaming disorder has significant public health importance, and additional research may eventually lead to evidence that Internet gaming disorder (also commonly referred to as Internet use disorder, Internet addiction, or gaming addiction) has merit as an independent disorder.
Internet gaming disorder is a pattern of excessive and prolonged Internet gaming that results in a cluster of cognitive and behavioral symptoms, including progressive loss of control over gaming, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms, analogous to the symptoms of substance use disorders. As with substance-related disorders, individuals with Internet gaming disorder continue to sit at a computer and engage in gaming activities despite neglect of other activities. They typically devote 8-10 hours or more per day to this activity and at least 30 hours per week. If they are prevented from using a computer and returning to the game, they become agitated and angry. They often go for long periods without food or sleep. Normal obligations, such as school or work, or family obligations are neglected. This condition is separate from gambling disorder involving the Internet because money is not at risk.
The essential feature of Internet gaming disorder is persistent and recurrent participation in computer gaming, typically group games, for many hours. These games involve competition between groups of players (often in different global regions, so that duration of play is encouraged by the time-zone independence) participating in complex structured activities that include a significant aspect of social interactions during play. Team aspects appear to be a key motivation. Attempts to direct the individual toward schoolwork or interpersonal activities are strongly resisted. Thus personal, family, or vocational pursuits are neglected. When individuals are asked, the major reasons given for using the computer are more likely to be “avoiding boredom” rather than communicating or searching for information.
The prevalence of Internet gaming disorder is unclear because of the varying questionnaires, criteria and thresholds employed, but it seems to be highest in Asian countries and in male adolescents 12-20 years of age. There is an abundance of reports from Asian countries, especially China and South Korea, but fewer from Europe and North America, from which prevalence estimates are highly variable.
Risk and Prognostic Factors
Environmental. Computer availability with Internet connection allows access to the types of games with which Internet gaming disorder is most often associated.
Genetic and Physiological. Adolescent males seem to be at greatest risk of developing Internet gaming disorder, and it has been speculated that Asian environmental and/or genetic background is another risk factor, but this remains unclear.
Functional Consequences of Internet Gaming Disorder
Internet gaming disorder may lead to school failure, job loss, or marriage failure. The compulsive gaming behaviour tends to crowd out normal social, scholastic, and family activities. Students may show declining grades and eventually failure in school. Family responsibilities may be neglected.
Health may be neglected due to compulsive gaming. Other diagnoses that may be associated with Internet gaming disorder include major depressive disorder, ADHD, and OCD.
A Narrative Review on Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) – Naskar et al (13)
There seems to be an attraction to lose oneself in the realms of virtual reality, which is provided by these gaming platforms. The stimulation it provides continues to feed this need and the person loses sense of real life and is not aware of the isolation and separation that is moving them away from human experience. (13)
Let’s just stop here for a moment please.
WHY have we got an explosive growth in Internet usage recently?
Does this have something to do with children and teenagers now using the Internet?
Is this because access to technology is easier than ever for our kids to have?
WHY have we in this modern age come up with yet another new dis-order called IGD?
WHY is Internet Gaming Disorder rapidly growing and how are we going to stop it?
WHY is all this on-screen stuff having such a huge impact on our health?
WHY are there severe consequences because of the negative impact of gaming?
WHY are we not asking more questions when we know our kids are our future adults?
WHY is there not much data regarding exact prevalence and other risk factors?
WHY are we not on the front foot of this new 21st century disorder called IGD?
WHY do we keep asking for more proof when even one case study tells us things are not right?
What is the attraction that someone wants to lose themselves in the realms of virtual reality?
Do we need to be studying this and finding out WHY we prefer virtual to real life?
Could it be as simple as we don’t like real life as it requires the word RESPONSIBILITY?
WHY are gaming platforms allowed to get away with what they do?
Is it something to do with supply and demand?
In other words, we want it and demand it and they simply supply and keep supplying?
WHY do we have such a deep need for stimulation to feed our needs?
Would it be wise to look at what our needs are and why we have them?
Could there be a clue here as to WHY we need video games to fill up our needs?
Could it be possible that the more we feed the needs we want even more, because the need is empty in the first place – bit like a bottomless pit?
Next – Is there another clue here Dear World, that the person loses sense of real life because the need being fed is a false illusion?
Could it then be possible that this illusion removes the person and separates them from living life in the real world, which is the human experience?
Could it be possible that this emptiness we feel that has the need and requires the stimulation of what gaming brings, further isolates them from real life?
Could it be possible that the need becomes insatiable like a source sucking the life force out and the person not only loses sense of reality but becomes unaware of the difference between virtual reality and planet earth, real life, common sense, the human body and relating to earth life.
In other words, it is like they are not there and something else is in the mind doing all this at the expense of the body which is in total dis-regard and neglect.
Could it be possible that our mind no longer can think clearly and this removes and separates us from the human experience and we cross over into the world of virtual reality and struggle with the difference?
Could it be possible that we feel the tension of human life on earth and know something is not right and so we opt for something like gaming to numb us and bring us temporary relief?
Could it be possible that Internet Gaming Addiction is no different to other mind-altering substances like drugs and alcohol but remains under the radar and we call that legal?
Could it be possible that we are not acting fast enough with new dis-orders that seem to keep presenting themselves in our ever growing crazy world?
Could it be possible we normalise things when the mass are doing something without seriously checking the harm to the human body and society?
Could it be possible that there has been no real change as all those involved are exhausted and cannot keep up with what is next required?
Could it be possible that our world lacks real true role models who live with a Quality of Integrity and Vitality that is felt because it is lived?
Could it be possible that we can each do our bit simply by looking at our own life and where we are choosing and not choosing to take Responsibility?
Could it be possible that bad mouthing, blaming, championing or celebrating a world day is not needed but awareness about any given topic is?
Could it be possible that those who can, have a Responsibility like the quote in the Independence Day of America?
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. (14)
In other words, as Nicholas Cage said in the film National Treasure –
If there is something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the Responsibility to take action.
Could it be possible that we all need to see any problem as our problem and not sit back and hope it will go away or let others get on with it?
WHY are we even waiting for more research when common sense tells us something is seriously wrong with all this gaming stuff?
Have we got time to waste and wait for more funding to research what we already know?Have we got the luxury to sit around in hope that someone out there will sort this out?Have we got the urgency running through our veins that these people are not living life and seriously need help, even if they look like they are ‘normal’?
Have we simply changed what we call normal and accepted this, as the mass are all doing it?
Where is all this rapidly growing public health problem going to end up?
Have we stopped long enough to even consider that our health systems currently cannot cope?
Have we looked at what the long-term damage is going to be to our society?
Have we bothered to pause and ask why is this going on and what is our part in this?
Have we just written this off like any other news which quickly becomes old news?
Case Study 1
Messrs. A and B were two unmarried brothers belonging to a nuclear family of upper socioeconomic class of urban background of New Delhi, India.
A is 19 years old, studying in 12th standard.
B is 22 years old, studying in 2nd year of engineering.
Problem started when both used to stay at home together and started playing online games with their virtual Internet friends from different countries.
Duration of online gaming progressed from 2-4 hours per day to 14-18 hours within a few months.
Their behaviour and self-care were simply not there while playing games.
They both –
Urinated and defecated in their clothes
Did not change clothes for days
Did not bathe
Did not answer phones
Did not open door, even to parents
Their home was robbed twice in their presence, whilst they were playing online games. (13)
Is this case study spelling out to us that it makes no difference what background we come from?
Is this story shocking us enough or is it just another thing that is not right in society?
Is this telling us that online games with virtual friends means no real relationships?
Is this saying when we have online friends that don’t exist except in our mind, we are in trouble?
Is this clear that we lose all sense of self and the responsibility aspect of daily living?
Is this presenting that when we are checked out with our mind elsewhere, it is dangerous?
Case Study 2
Boy aged 18 – excessive use of video game for last 2 years.
Playing meant losing interest in studies and low academic grades.
Disturbance in biological functions
Avoiding contact with others
Irritability when asked to stop video game
Disturbance in leisure activities
Disturbance in family routine
Disturbance in family interaction
Disturbance in physical and mental health
Parents had psychiatric distress, which they attributed to helplessness to manage the user’s psychosocial dysfunctions. It also starts affecting their lifestyle in terms of decreased engagement in pleasurable activities, disturbance in sleep attributable to frequent checking of user’s activities at night, and interpersonal problems. (13)
Is this case study telling us that it is not just about the gamer but others too, including family?
How serious is it when parents have psychiatric distress because of their son’s psychosocial dysfunctions due to playing online games?
Who do we blame and point the finger at?
Is anyone to blame or is there something we are missing?
How bad will the disturbance in life have to get before we say No to this form of abuse?How crazy have things got that we are not the user and our life is affected by another?
The prevalence of Internet Gaming Disorder varies worldwide and is estimated to be between 0.2% and 8.5%.
Korea is reported to have the highest known prevalence.
50% of adolescents are presumed to be addicted to gaming and Internet Gaming Disorder.
24% of those diagnosed as having Internet Addiction need hospitalization.
However, these reviews and studies have considered Internet Gaming Disorder and Internet Addiction Disorder as the same disorder, so it is difficult to say what the exact prevalence is as the two conditions are distinctly different but with some overlapping characteristics. (13)
According to Ko et al, increasing age, poor self-esteem and low daily life satisfaction were associated with more severe online gaming addiction among males.
12,938 children and adolescents studied from seven countries across Europe.
Adolescents with Internet Gaming Disorder reported being from broken home, divorced parents.
Muller et al (13)
Most Popular Genres
88% action games
86% casual games
84% sports games
Study conducted by Donati et al, in 2016 among 701 male adolescents (13)
4744 University students in USA studied in 2015
Internet Gaming Disorder scores elevated rapidly with time playing Real Time Strategy and Real Person Fiction Games than for action games.
Eichenbaum et al
2422 individuals studied in Netherlands to find correlations between game genres and Internet Gaming Disorder. Findings show stronger correlation between online gaming and Internet Gaming Disorder than offline ones.
Lemmens et al (13)
Comorbidities Associated with Internet Gaming Addiction
Internet Gaming Disorder is thought to be a gradually progressive behaviour, with a chronic course deteriorating over time. The pathological gaming behaviour may lead to significant physical and mental health problems as reported by numerous literary evidences.
Addicted gamers have a higher association with psychopathologies than controls.
Addicts scored higher in Beck’s Depression Inventory and Social Phobia Inventory and are less agreeable, thorough, and emotionally stable.
Lehenbauer-Baum et al (13)
In response to game cues, patients with Internet video game addiction showed higher brain activation in left occipital lobe cuneus, left dorsolateral prefrontal cortext and left parahippocampal gyrus than healthy comparison subjects.
After a 6 week period of Bupropion SR (sustained release), craving for Internet video game play, total game play time and cue-induced brain activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were decreased in the patients with Internet video game addiction.
Bupropion which is an anti-depressant was suggested to change craving and brain activity in ways that are similar to those observed in individuals with substance abuse or dependence. (13)
Documentary by RT called China’s Digital Detox, looking into the harsh reality of Internet gaming addiction.
Here are some key points from the documentary –
China has 700 million Internet users.
First country officially to recognise Internet addiction as clinical condition.
Military style boot camp to help gamers overcome Internet dependence.
Some parents are giving up their jobs to be at the boot camp and attend parent classes.
$1500 cost each month for 6 months.
Course based on Military training.
Parades, marching outdoor exercise important.
Stand still for 20 minutes outdoors in silence with back straight.
One to one group sessions with psychologist referring to Freud model.
Many now have health problems from poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyle.
Screen time was junk food and sugar carbonated drinks.
Now nutrition important with balanced diet and plenty vegetables.
Vitamins and minerals given.
Sedatives prescribed in cases of severe depression.
Drugs not widespread.
Alcohol not easy to get.
WHY the Internet?
Internet easily accessible, costs almost nothing.
They feel in control like it is real life.
On the Internet, they are the heroes.
It is what they lack in real life.
What they can’t get at home, they get on the Internet.
Parents are running their business and often leave child with grandparents.
Only one child policy in China.
Child in boarding school for 10 years referred to it as prison.
He said the boot camp was the same as former prison life – it is boring.
“We march, wash clothes by hand and clean our rooms.
We have army drill parades and are pushed around.”
Boot camp orders
‘Room 5 – bedspread is not smooth enough.’
‘Room 8 – some furniture in the wrong place.’
Lessons start at 6am and finish 9:30pm.
Very busy, no time to go to the toilet.
School wanted to be top in the Province’s ratings.
“nobody understood my heart…
my parents were poor growing up and don’t understand me.
they have no idea what I have been through or what I want in life.”
Parents think they are always right in everything they do.
15% ignore their children.
Children’s mental age is below average.
99% dropped out of school.
Unable to communicate with others.
We didn’t know material side of things not important to him.
We only cared about his material well-being
We never asked how he felt or if he was bullied at boarding school.
We must be real failures as parents.
We can’t and we don’t know how to. Of course, we will learn. First, we must learn his needs and get to know him better.
Parents learn about the children from the boot camp. Before they only wanted obedience.
Children see that their parents have changed.
Parent realise they cannot tell child what to do and need to allow him to make his own choices as he has grown up now.
“They often played online games and if one of the players needed to pee during the game, he was so afraid of interrupting the game, that he would put on a diaper.
This is the tip of the iceberg. Dysfunctional relationships in the family are behind it.
We educate parents to give their children space to grow.”
Tao Ran – Director
The China Youth Rehabilitation Base
Adults quit their jobs
They played 24/7
Some never left their room for 6 months.
Never saw daylight
Issues at work and found he was withdrawing from life.
Played for 16 hours in one day – that was his record high.
Mum tricked him and got him into boot camp.
Tried break window with his head and cut his veins with broken glass.
After the boot camp he became a presenter in the parent classes.
He starts with As for our kids, loneliness is a permanent state.
Parents are busy at work and have nothing in common to talk about with kids who have no siblings. They go on the Internet to meet new people and communicate. They gradually lose the ability to communicate with real people and start living another life. That’s called loneliness.
Sentyan system is long term voluntary isolation.
Locked up in room alone and no one to talk to.
A diary is used to write down reflections in life and childhood memories.
Not allowed outside for 28 days and 128 days was the longest in Sentyan.
518,000 children ages 12 to 18 addicted to Internet. (15)
Government successfully conducted “Net fasting” camp aimed at keeping internet-addicted teenagers away from smartphones and computers.
After the camp, 3 out of 7 who skipped school and played online games at home all the time were attending school.
Some participants regressed back to their old habits after a brief period of spending less time online. (16)
eSports is the abbreviation for electronic sports.
eSport – first new major sport invented in over a century.
Competitive video gaming is sweeping the world.
Players see themselves as athletes.
Prize monies are several hundred thousand dollars per game.
Heinrich Zetlmayer – Managing Director, Turtle Entertainment (17)
eSports consist of a variety of video games, for which you need nimble fingers and a fast brain to succeed. Just as with traditional sports, fans follow teams, watch matches and even attend cup finals cheering on their favourite stars from around the world.
Football clubs have started signing Fifa stars who are players of the virtual game rather than the real thing.
$130 million revenue in 2012 from eSports
$465 million expected in 2017
NewZoo – eSports Data Expert (17)
385 million global audience
191 million regular viewers
£2,000,000 paid a year to eSports player aged 21, not including sponsorship or bonuses. (17)
We could all agree this is new compared to all other sports we know of.
What is it about competition that drives us to neglect our precious body?
What is it about eSports that fans love even though it is not real life?
What is it about us as a world that doesn’t care about the side effects?
What is it about us that subscribes to something that is not real?
What is it about us that ignores all the signs that something is not right?
What is it about us that requires entertainment and the buzz consistently?
2017 – Spodec Stadium, Katowice, West Poland
Intel Extreme Masters Final
46 million viewers watching online
35% increase from last year (17)
Olympic type events like these are broadcasted widely by a leading eSports company that organizes competitions worldwide via streaming service. Today this company is worth over a billion dollars.
98% households have Internet
All textbooks to be digitised and base all schooling around tablet computers.
2,000,000 people receiving treatment to wean themselves from playing online games.
3 month old girl died, as parents were consumed in marathon online game session.
5 year old writes a pledge card “I promise to play Nintendo for 30 minutes only. Daddy promises to play less cellphone games and play more with me”. (18)
Esports originates from this country.
Korea has one of the fastest and most developed broadband networks in the world.
In South Korea, eSports is so ingrained in society that it could be seen as a national past time.
eSports Stadium, Seoul, Korea
This is the first sports venue in the world designed specifically for online gaming.
2005 arena opened that hosts online games in the form of sports coverage.
While professional gamers are playing a game on stage, spectators cheer from the gallery. (19)
South Korea has a channel that shows eSports 24 hours a day. (17)
I practice a minimum of 12 hours a day. Sometimes 15 hours a day when close to a match.
As you sit for long hours without movement, inevitably it cannot be good for your health but I do believe it contributes to brain development.
Faker – eSports Star
This news article describes Faker like most eSports players:
Sense no sun for years (17)
Internet cafes where clients spend an average of five hours playing computer games. (20)
Bang means room in Korean.
Initially opened by South Korean Government to promote the Internet and gaming.
PC bangs are no longer just cafes now – they are parks and playgrounds in South Korea.
PC bangs are packed out by 9pm.
Many of the youth here play through the night.
Hundreds of computer screens are all busy.
Energy food and drinks, cooked meals and alcohol available.
Stay long as you want without ever needing to leave. (17)
Teenagers and those in their 20s are too absorbed in the games to talk to another.
28 year old Jeong – maths teacher about to study PhD in brain science.
Attends PC bangs 3-4 times a week.
Sometimes plays all night.
Says it is cheap compared with other forms of entertainment.
Finds it exhilarating as he is reserved and awkward in conversation but in PC bang he feels happy and uninhibited.
Jeong is transformed when he starts playing a team game where killing is involved.
He speaks fast and excitably, barking instructions to anonymous team-mates.
When he finishes, he looks exhausted and is out of breath and says he feels good. (17)
How serious is this?
What on earth gets into this guy and transforms him?
WHY does he change so quickly?
WHY is killing an exciting thing on screen?
WHY is he comfortable barking instructions?
WHY is he ok with people who are anonymous?
What has got into him that makes him speak fast?
WHY is he looking exhausted at the end of the game?
WHY is he out of breath and thinks that is good?
WHY are we not funding studies to ask the WHY questions?
Can we join the dots and keep it simple here?
The first sentence in the article, tells us this young man, who plans to study a PhD in brain science is having some serious brain activity going on when he starts playing a team game.
Something inside him changes and he goes from being a reserved character in real life, who has difficulty engaging and communicating with others, to being happy and uninhibited in front of a screen with players who he has never met and doesn’t even know their names as they are all anonymous.
Society would class him as highly intelligent just by the fact of his occupation as a maths teacher who is now going to study a PhD.
However, what is intelligent about his choices with his gaming behaviour?
Is the brain science going to give us some answers here about his own behaviour?
Would it be common sense intelligence for us to at least be honest and ask WHY someone is reserved but takes on a completely different persona when online?
Would it be true Intelligence to question what actually happens to the mind and body when online games start? In other words what is this transformation?
Would it be worth studying that if this was all just a game and nothing more, WHY does it leave a person exhausted and out of breath?
Would it be real to ask how can it be possible to be out of breath when there was no physical gym type exercise going on?
Would it be worth considering at this stage that something is seriously wrong the moment the online gaming starts as it changes the behaviour of the gamer?
In other words, just like drugs the mind is in an altered false state of being.
Principal of High School found a solution when students struggled in the mainstream because they spent all night playing games. (17)
He opened a PC bang in the school and as long as students studied regular subjects in the morning they were allowed to play eSports in the afternoon and evening.
The school was fast becoming a training ground for future professionals.
The students said a minimum of 10 hours per day dedicated to games was needed to succeed.
The Principal does like to use the word addiction – he prefers the world over-indulgence.
He was asked would he liked to be remembered for curing over indulgence of creating eSports stars. If he had to choose between curing and training to become a professional, he said he would choose the latter.
Is this telling us that we prefer to have the recognition of making students professional gamers, rather than value human life of those who are suffering from gaming addiction?
2011 – Korean government introduced the Cinderella Law which forbids youth under age 16 to play computer games between midnight and 6am.
The law came in because the country had a problem with young people addicted to gaming. (17)
This was 6 years ago and do we have any studies now telling us if this law is adhered to?
If we are being honest, it is not possible to police and monitor a law like this, as in reality we do not have the resources to ensure our teenagers stop playing at midnight?
How is the problem in this country today with young people addicted to gaming?
Has this law made any real difference and if so, how come statistics are rising?
The industry’s lack of support for addicts is “immoral”.
Problems typically emerge when children enter middle school at age 11.
They lose interest in academic work, friends and family; they stop sleeping; eat poorly or hardly at all.
Immersive gaming without any resting is harmful to our brain. It is a definite fact.
Case reported where the gamer was immersed without any sleeping or having a meal. He died.
As a medical doctor, I think the support from the Government to the patients struggling with Internet gaming is not enough.
Dr. Lee Tae-Kyung – National Centre for Mental Health in Seoul (17)
Choi aged 31 is an addict and inpatient at Lee’s hospital. He talks how his addiction alienated him from the real world and his job. He played at PC bangs for four to six hours every night and stopped eating properly.
The quality of his work was affected and he began to confuse his own identity with characters in the games he played. He stopped relating to people.
National Center for Mental Health was dealing with drugs and alcohol and now it is about gaming.
Psychiatrist – Dr. Kim Hyun-soo says:
In the 1990s, the addiction issues were associated with glue or gas.
In 1998 Internet Games were commercialised.
In 2000 I started seeing gaming addicts.
Many of the glue and gas sniffers moved on to gaming.
Top ranked addiction among young people is game addiction.
90% of addicts are male teenagers.
Kim talks about addicts he has seen who wear nappies so they do not have to leave their game to go to the toilet; the gamers are so obsessed they stop eating and sleeping altogether.
He was one of the psychiatrists that investigated the case of a games addicted young man who killed his mother before killing himself.
“There have been many tragic social cases that are related to game addiction.”
Kim treated a 23-year old addict in 2005 and weaned him off eSports and thought he was cured.
Two months after completion of the treatment he killed himself.
What he realised was that he had wanted to keep the relationship with his gaming friends but he was chucked out of the community. The fact that he thought he had lost all his social relationships led to his suicide.
“I realised it was not a simple issue of not playing the game at all – it is not black and white. I had to go much deeper into the psyche.”
He discovered there were different types of gaming addictions:
Some were addicted to moving up the ranks
Some to the money making aspect
Some to that sense of belonging to the gaming community. (17)
WHY are we not listening to these medical professionals who are telling us the truth about what is really going on?
WHY are we demanding and wanting more research when these real-life stories give us the anecdotal evidence that we need?
The most difficult to treat are those addicted to the money side.
Kim says younger and younger people are becoming addicted.
6 year olds refusing to go to school because they are addicted to smartphone games.
Patients are treated with “talking therapy”.
Addicts talk out their problem and hopefully reach a solution. (17)
When talking does not work for youngsters, his partner, Dr. Lee Jae-won turns to electric shock treatment. One machine delivers basic shocks to stimulate the frontal lobe; the other provides transcranial magnetic stimulation, a less brutal therapy. These treatments, particularly the first, are controversial, especially when used on young people. But Lee insists his treatment is much more sophisticated than the cruel ECT – electroconvulsive therapy of yesteryear.
As he talks, he regularly flicks a switch, gives himself an electric shock and twitches.
He seems unaware that he is doing it. (17)
There are children obsessed before they enrol in elementary school, says Lee.
With gaming, it is the frontal lobe that degenerates and it is the frontal lobe that makes humans act like humans. Having it damaged can explain the antisocial, impulsive and unhappy behaviour.
One reporter allowed Lee to give him a single electric shock and found it violent. He described it as his bones felt like they had been struck by a tuning fork and he could feel it hours later. Note that these shocks are applied to the head.
This news story mentions a young boy with a tattoo in the waiting room for electric shock treatment. Tattooing is illegal in Korea and this confirms how far gone this boy is. (17)
In eSports cheating is relatively easy. You can slow opponents down using technology to mess with Internet connection, take drugs to speed yourself up or simply lose.
Ian Smith, the first Head of British eSports Integrity Commission (Esic). (17)
Gambling in eSports already seems more advanced than in traditional sports.
Professional players have been banned for betting on themselves to win matches, or more commonly, to lose.
It is becoming increasingly susceptible to corruption because so many people are betting on matches. The casinos in Las Vegas are now streaming matches to attract more young people.
May 2017 – London famous football club announced their ground will now be used to host live eSports matches, with potential crowds of 50,000 and revenues of £3,000,000 for each match.
2000 – first UK eSports addiction clinic opened. (17)
Can we join the dots here and not just look at the heavily wired countries who are taking steps to curb addiction in youth?
Have we as individuals decided to value screen time above other important things in life?
Have we made a choice to check out in our gaming world to avoid the RESPONSIBILITY that life brings?
Are we Bored with the life we have and this video gaming helps us to not address the boredom?
Do we need an escape because we simply do not like the life we have?
Are we aware of the dangers that video gaming may be having on our mind and body?
Are we choosing this dis-connected way of living as no one is educating us on the dangers?
Are we bothering to find out that video gaming can be an addiction just like crack cocaine?Are we feeling safe from the cruel world outside when we stick to our screen playing?
Are we comfortable allowing our kids to stay quiet and not worry what they are up to?
Are we as adults so hooked into the fantasy escaping world that we just can’t stop?
Does it suit us to have a quiet child completely absorbed in the video gaming world?
Does it work for our lifestyle to know our child is muted and totally immersed in gaming?
Does it make it ok, as we are big into video gaming and our kids just follow the same pattern?
First computer rehab clinic opens and surge in popularity of web based “fantasy world” games has triggered a wave of addiction among adults and children. (21)
Sufferers spend days at a time glued to their computer screens – going without food, sleep or any social interaction. As a result they suffer malnutrition, relationship breakdown and postural problems.
The wave of addiction is apparently triggered by more sophisticated online games where players have to invest significant amounts of time to progress. (21)
This is huge and needs another re-read.
So here we have it – games that require more and more time to progress, when in truth the significant amounts of time are killing our players.
Behavioural shifts include users becoming aggressive, with chaotic lifestyles that result in irregular eating and sleeping patterns as well as social exclusion.
It is not unusual for people to get so obsessed with online gaming that they forget to eat and drift towards an anorexic and undernourished state.
There is no helpline in the UK and nobody else treating such cases in this country.
There is a relationship with characters in the game that give an artificial feeling created by the body’s natural endorphins, when you have killed some monster or solved a problem.
Peter Smith – Counsellor, Broadway Lodge, Weston Super Mare, Somerset (21)
While children and teenagers naturally gravitate towards video games, adults have also fallen into the gaming arena. These developments have given rise to some alarming video game addiction statistics that seem to be increasing with each passing year.
Ongoing technological advancements make it possible for anyone with a television, desktop computer, notebook computer or mobile phone to play video games whenever the mood strikes.
A study in the medical journal Pediatrics presented the following video game addiction statistics:
20 hours per week playing video games.
72% American households play video games.
9% showed signs of video game addiction.
4% extreme users played video games 50 hours week. (22)
Video game addictions develop out of certain types of life circumstances and often become the “filling” for unmet needs and emotional conflicts in a person’s daily life. (7)
Children who spend inordinate amounts of time playing video games may have underlying, unresolved issues going on in their everyday life.
Compulsive gaming behaviours closely resemble the behaviours exhibited by drug addicts, some of which include:
Obsessing over the activity when not engaged in it.
Losing track of time.
Scheduling daily activities around “video game time”.
Disregard for negative consequences. (7)
Dr. Kimberley Young – Ted TALK
Gaming centres where Internet Addiction is most problematic and prevalent.
USA – considered more of a silent addiction.
Less Internet cafes. Happening more in homes, people’s bedrooms.
Gamers are treated that fail school or live back at home with parents as cannot hold a job. (23)
There is an online game using the name of a giant sea mammal spreading via social media accounts.
Aim – to goad vulnerable youngsters into taking their own lives.
Reports state children as young as seven are playing.
The suicide challenge in this game has already been linked to some 130 deaths in Russia.
Parent blamed the game for death of teenage daughter in USA.
She started researching and reading more about the game and joined the dots.
One weekend her daughter asked her to step on the roof of the house. This is something the game asked. She realised one of the pictures is from her own roof.
Anonymous administrators give out tasks and participants are required to submit photo evidence each day to prove the challenge was completed.
As the tasks become more extreme over a 50 day period, some group administrators have encouraged members to self-harm – with some scoring the shape of this sea mammal on their forearm.
Day 50 – group members are purportedly encouraged to take their own lives.
Russian university student planned to throw himself from a building to complete one of the challenges in this game.
He told Sky News
I didn’t feel like I needed to kill myself. I felt I needed to complete the task.
I only had this thought in my head – that I need to complete the task. (24)
After reading this blog, would it be true to say the we have been re-creating a way to use our mind on screen time that is deeply harming our body?
Could it be possible that video gaming for many has become an addiction?
Could it be possible that video gaming is simply not evolving us as a race of beings on earth?
Could it be possible that video gaming cannot be celebrated if some of our world are truly suffering as a direct result of playing video games?
Can we sit back and let this continue after reading what is going on?
Do we each have a Responsibility even if it is sharing this blog on social media so more people are aware?
Can we take the Responsibility and get talking about this much needed topic?
Can we pass on what we now know to others in our community who may not be aware of the dangers of video gaming?
Are we ready to do our bit and take note of all that has been presented?
Are we concerned that our children may just be addicted to video games because we have made the choice to not connect with them?
Are we bothered about the state of our world in the future, knowing that our kids are the future generations to come?
Can we be honest enough to admit that we cannot celebrate a day about images on a screen that is causing many some serious harm?
Could it be possible that good old-fashioned meeting, connecting and expressing who we truly are would be enough?
Could it be that Simple?
If you are feeling suicidal, contact your GP for support or the Suicide Helplines.
In a crisis contact your emergency services.
UK – Samaritans available 24 hours
Tel: 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Childline – for children and young people
Tel: 0800 1111
USA – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Check International Association for Suicide Prevention Resources on Crisis Centers
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