Addicted to videogames? You could soon be officially mental!

Usually when a reviewer calls a game addictive, that’s a compliment, but to some psychologists, addictive games are a crippling menace, on par with drugs and alcohol. In a new report, presented to the world via Game Life, the American Medical Association is being pressed to officially recognize videogame addiction as an actual disorder. 

The report, which bears the oh-so concise title of “Report Of The Council On Science And Public Health: Emotional and Behavioral Effects, Including Addictive Potential, of Video Games” not only pushes for gaming addiction to be an official term, but also wishes for the definition of ‘gamer’ to have a legitimate medical meaning. How awesome is that, for us all to be medically recognised by real life doctors? There is also a call for the AMA to provide family support on the ‘appropriate’ use of videogames (don’t stick the discs up your ass?) and the recommended daily amount that a person should spend with their beloved consoles and PCs (1 to 2 hours apparently … yeah, right).

So far, the reactions I’ve seen have been skeptical at best, but there’s no denying that for the mentally incapable, certain games, especially MMORPGs, can have a damaging effect. We all remember the guy who became obsessed with Everquest, leading him to make the logical jump from becoming ‘an hero’ to ‘an twit with rifle in an face’. Could mental help aimed at one’s videogame addiction help people like that? Possibly, but you’d already have to be pretty messed up to let something like gaming affect you that badly and in that case, you should be getting mental help regardless of whether you’re a gamer or not. 

Essentially, while it certainly wouldn’t hurt anybody, I’m doubtful that there’s anything to be gained from labeling game addiction as a medical disorder. People who require psychological help don’t need it because they’re addicted to videogames, they need it because they’re already damaged enough to seek refuge in games in the first place. I’d be surprised if gaming was ever the root cause for mental or emotional problems and existed as more than a catalyst or solace for what was already there. Pretty much like most other addictions, then.

[Picked up via Techdirt]

Jim Sterling