DOES GAMING ADDICTION EXIST?

Excessive gaming has recently sparked concern amongst many groups of individuals and there is talk as to whether it can be seen as a serious issue all over the world.

Anne Fiskaali, a Psychologist from Denmark, an expert in gaming and esports, believes it is important to understand the effects of gaming before labelling it addiction.

She said: “There are different layers to it, and I think one of them is can we separate the effects of gaming and make sure that it is an actual addiction.”

When a term addiction is thrown about, it can be concerning to all parties, especially the people who feel they may be affected by it.

Gamers in the modern day see themselves playing video games for extended periods of time. In a recent survey, 9.5% of the participants admit to playing over 9 hours of games a day.

Fiskaali described gaming as a “tool” for many people, however, she believes it’s how people may use this tool that could become an issue.

She said: “I sometimes refer to gaming as a tool, so the way those people use the tool can be problematic.”

She also discusses how recent information may show addiction but that with the current restrictions due to COVID-19, we should be made to wait and see then how this may change amongst children.

“When we get back to normal, there will be school they have to go back to and there will hopefully be extra-curricular sports or activities that they also have to make time for as well.

“I honestly think children and adolescents yearn for physical interaction; I honestly think they will just pop right back into it” 

Most children are playing games from a noticeably young age, and Fiskaali refers back to how people may use gaming before labelling it a potential problem.

She said: “It depends on how you use gaming and I think of course if you game so much that you miss other important stuff. Do you spend time with your family? Do you go to school?”

She believes it’s down to the parents to make sure that the kids spend their time more wisely, but to also not to take the games away from them as along with other things. Gaming in her eyes can also be seen as a “cool activity.”

The question of whether a video games addiction exists remains a mystery, but the benefits of people of all ages using games as an escape from reality have also been heavily highlighted.

She believes gaming offers an escape for some people, she says that gaming is a way for these people to avoid dangerous people.

She said: “I think there are some that play games to escape bullying because they have friends online from different countries, but children also access games to play with the friends they have from school.”

Every gamer who took part in the survey believe that gaming can be used as a tool to help peoples wellbeing through socializing, showing the positive side of what gaming can do for the community.

Studies have shown that gaming addiction can also be linked to gambling. Many games in the modern day allow for the micro-transactions of loot boxes and none more so than the Football game EA Sports FIFA.

FIFA allows for a purchase of FIFA points which can then allow for the player to open packs and potentially get better players, this is never set in stone, and the temptation makes players of all ages spend excessive amounts of money to have a chance of getting a good player. It was found that EA made a record £186 Million in March 2020 from FIFA points alone.

Fellow gamer Stephen Emordy, Student from the University of Strathclyde, believes that he has been exposed to the gambling aspect of FIFA and he later admitted he was unaware of the situation.

He said: “I myself have spent quite a lot of money in the past when I was younger not realizing you’re doing it and there have been stories of people spending thousands of pounds on FIFA points or other forms of gambling and not realizing the consequences of their actions because of their age.”

When other gamers were asked whether gaming and gambling can be linked, over 52% of people think that it can be linked between one another and over 28% believe that FIFA can be linked to addiction.

Fiskaali mentioned that she remains skeptical about the link between loot boxes and gambling.

She said: “In general I don’t particularly like the mechanics that looks like gambling, I think that’s fair to call that more worrying than just normal gaming.”

Research had shown that 63% of the participants admitted that gaming had led them to poor time management. Emordy admitted that he also suffered from poor time management because of gaming.

“Whenever you’re supposed to be studying it just seems like when you are staring a computer when you’re playing games that’s almost all you’re doing.

“Gaming changes your perspective of time, playing games appears to make time change and it does have a serious impact on how you understand it.”

He also admitted that gaming has forced him to miss sleep on many occasions linking again to the poor time management.

“I’ve done it in the past where I was trying to play a game to 11 o’clock and then go to my bed normally and I find myself up at 4/5 o’clock playing the same game.”

Over 47% of other gamers have agreed that playing games has affected important areas of their life, such as their work or their studies.

Emordy also mentioned that his poor time management has led him to also feel very fatigued throughout the rest of the next day.

He said: “Time management has led to me having a bad sleeping pattern and I have gotten a lot of fatigue.”

Over 27% of gamers also admitted that they suffer from fatigue because of excessive gaming.

Over 90% of the gamers surveyed believe that gaming addiction does exist and over 42% believe that gaming addiction should be seen as a serious addiction amongst other addictions such as alcoholism or gambling.

Emordy also believes that gaming addiction exists and that it should be seen an issue that must be helped.

He said: “it’s a very serious issue, it can massively impact mental and physical health and there needs to be some way to control it and regulate it.”

Fiskaali however, remains adamant in what she says that there is no clear and obvious link as of yet to prove whether gaming is a full-blown addiction.

“If you accept that there is something called gaming addiction because people use gaming a lot, then people who may watch television a lot, should there a television addiction, or people who go out with their friends a lot, should there be a friend’s addiction? For me, I 100% accept that there are people who experience problems due to their gaming.”

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