Finally, the truth is out. Video gaming obsession, that has long tormented parents and counsellors with its borderline dalliance between creative stimulation and excessive euphoria, has now been declared as an addiction by the World Health Organisation and as with all addictions, it earns its place in the hall of infamy. WHO needs to be commended for dragging this matter into full public view and pinning it against the wall.
From its earliest avatar as a cathode ray tube amusement device sometimes in the late 1940s to its modern manifestation as an all-consuming, out-of-proportion mode of self-absorption, video gaming, at its extreme, has effectively effaced the line between entertainment and neurosis. Sure, the proponents of gaming continue to point to its vigorous advantages such as enhanced visuo-motor skills, responsiveness and spatial determinism, but outside the narrow ambit of responsible gaming, which arguably nurtures these skills, the counter-effects of over-gaming are also worthy of attention. Research has turned up the observation that video gaming can become addictive and the brain mapping of ‘addicts’ reveals neural activity and pleasure-reward responses similar to people with other addictions.
This new-found status, however, has a bright side. It will now allow experts to provide the right recourse to addicts, encourage parents to seek treatment for their children and prompt families of adult gamers to seek help for their loved ones.
The discomfiting adage of, ‘You can take the game away from an addict, but not the addiction to the game’ has long troubled parents and families. But now, this new understanding will help them take the required steps to counter this problem.