The World Health Organisation (WHO) has:
“Included “gaming disorder” in its draft for the next edition of its diagnostic manual, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which is due for final release this year. The disorder is characterised by behaviours such as impaired control of time spent playing video games and prioritisation of gaming above other activities, in a way that negatively affects other areas of a person’s life such as their education, occupation and relationships.” Source: The Guardian
I will admit that gaming takes up a lot of my free time, I usually find a way to fit it into my daily routine even if this means staying up into the early hours of the morning. I like to think it doesn’t consume my life but, at the same time, it is a rather big part of it. At first I didn’t know quite what to think about this announcement. Initially I will admit, I felt rather defensive, as though it was an attack on my main pastime but, at the same time, I kind of get what they’re talking about. For the record I am not saying gaming is bad but, just like anything else, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. In my childhood I witnessed first hand the effects gaming could have on personal relationships and how it can be a crutch to hide from your own life problems (yes – this is a reference to when I played World of Warcraft back in the day). And, in my opinion, not many people are aware of what gaming can turn into if it is not managed properly.
What we in the gaming community must recognise is that excessive gaming is harmful to both your mental and physical health. There are so many horror stories of gamers dying of starvation because they forgot to feed themselves or losing the ability to walk after playing for a solid 20 hours, if you don’t believe me have a look on Google – there are so many cases. This does not mean that gaming is a problem but a culture of addiction is and, sadly, the very competitive nature of some games fuels this. What we need to learn, and advocate, is that gaming is meant to be something you do to relax, a treat as it were. If you live to game you’d best be making a living from this otherwise you may suffer from gaming disorder. But don’t worry, I have some helpful facts and advice that can help you if you are struggling to manage your daily life with your gaming habits.
How Can Gaming Harm You?
There are many ways in which gaming disorder can affect your life and it comes in various forms. For instance, it can affect your social life and then even alter the way you interact with other people. Examples of this include: cancelling plans with friends and family to game, preferring gaming to being in social situations, not trying to meet new people when the opportunity presents itself and becoming resentful of anyone who interrupts your gaming.
Furthermore, excessive gaming poses serious risks to your physical health. This can include carpal tunnel, being stabbed by an angry gamer who stalked you online (yes this actually happens (click here) for an example), actually dying of diseases such as thrombosis (click here) and even has been associated with exacerbating eating disorders such as obesity.
How Can You Prevent Gaming Disorder?
Well, like with any addiction, it’s about taking things in moderation. I have recently, out of pure fear after reading some pretty horrendous stories about the impact of gaming, started cutting down on the amount of gaming I did. Because, if I’m honest, it really was starting to take over my life. I would be on daily, often starting around 8:00 to 9:00 pm and sometimes finishing at around 02:00 am. Whilst the odd late night has never hurt anybody, if it starts becoming routine it can really eat into other aspects of your life. So now, twice a week, I make sure I don’t touch steam or Discord on my computer. I have noticed a drastic change already. Now, when I go out, I don’t even think of gaming and have started reconnecting with some old friends. And, when I do play, I find it far more enjoyable as I have given myself a bit of a break. I have even noticed that now I take a far more casual approach and sometimes miss nights because I want to, rather than being forced due to other plans.
Having said all this please note that I am not a doctor, not yet anyway, I am just passing down advice from some of my own personal experiences. Additionally, this post in no way suggests that gaming is a negative process, it is just that we must recognize from time to time, as I said previously, you can sometimes have too much of a good thing.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for my next post and please feel free to comment below about some of your own experiences.