The World Health Organization (WHO) has now added video game addiction to its list of diseases, citing its inclusion as the result of evidence gathered from a range of experts and studies.
The decision will likely do little to settle the debate of whether video gaming can be or is addictive. Studies have vacillated from a resounding “yes, it does” to a resounding “no, it doesn’t.” But the world of e-sports itself has reported no such thing in its players.
Professional gamers who spend eight to 12 hours a day playing games for a living don’t seem to be addicted. A 2017 study by gaming researchers Patrick Markey and Christopher Ferguson shows video gaming raises dopamine levels in the brain to the same level as eating a slice of pizza. So, it comes down to a matter of perception on whether or not video gaming addiction is a real thing.
WHO and their group of psychiatrists, doctors, counsellors and more in the medical field are claiming video game addiction is a real disease with links to depression and substance abuse.
They believe there are people out there who need help, especially children, who are the most vulnerable to addiction.
These experts have released many studies that focused on the effects of gaming on kids and adolescents, and the results are murky. The studies claim there is a clear correlation between video games and depression, but correlation is not causation.
Some of the studies were done on individual gamers who showed signs of addiction, but there is no mention of having done research on professional gamers or game developers. If they have, it is not clear.
However, they do say gaming addiction is for the most part unlikely and will only be seen in a small percentage of gamers who exhibit problematic behaviour. Those that do fall prey to the addiction will need help in rebalancing their lives.
Gamers feel that classifying gaming as a disorder is an attack on them and video games, especially with all the negative press surrounding games already, such as Gamergate, alleged sexism and misogyny in games, microtransactions and broken games sold on release days.
From the world of e-sports, there have been no reports of gaming addiction among the professionals. If it did exist, gaming addiction would most likely manifest in people who spend hours on end honing their skills, but that does not seem to be the case.
In fact, many professional gamers quit e-sports because they grew bored of playing video games.
The debate over whether or not video game addiction is real or not rages on today with no clear answer, and it may get better or worse, as e-sports is slowly growing bigger each year.