Reason First: Should Electronic Gaming Be a Mental Illness?

In the wake of the World Health Organization's decision to classify electronic gaming as a disorder of the mind, what stands out is the connection between brain chemistry and free will.

Reason First: Should Electronic Gaming Be a Mental Illness?

For all of those CallofDuty (CoD) and WorldofWarcraft (WoW) junkies out there, you might be facing a problem other than advancing to the next digital stage: Mental health. The World Health Organization has decided that gaming electronically may be classified as a psychological disorder. What this means for the millions of gamers who obsess over their various consoles, platforms, and systems is that they are exhibiting behavior akin to obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

The earliest days of Pong with the bouncing white ball and disks could have possibly caused undiagnosed mental trauma within the users. Fast forward to virtual reality and reality augmented systems, and the floodgates open to a whole host of conditions.

How can something so relatively innocuous and engaging become a vicious tool that can lead to a plague upon the mind? It is the hypersensitive mental health community which deems anything and everything some kind of disorder. It is to place a name on something that may in fact just be an instance of over-enthusiasm. So what now? People are supposed to stop playing MaddenNFL because they could develop a disorder? The International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which is associated with the WHO, find that the use of “internet, computers, and smartphones” tend to lead users down a path of psychological ill health.

Gaming addiction has been recognized as a menace by the American Psychiatric Association. In 2007, the American Medical Association removed itself from the “video game addiction” idea.

And others ought to do the same. Just as simply as you can turn off the console or switch apps on a mobile device, it is not like gaming is a chemical imbalance. The people have the choice to wreck their own lives electronically. If gaming interferes with the day-to-day functions of hygiene, grooming, and proper dieting, then the case is based solely on free will.

Other real disorders like depression are the result of a series of events in the brain most often based on experiences that make a person severely melancholy. This is in contrast to the gamer who decides to take the Oculus unit off of his head. It’s like “eating disorders” and other so-called conditions that are about the volition of the individual. Gaming is a source of skill-building, income, and recreation for scores of people. To have it as an addiction is to undermine the responsible players the world over who engage in the activity.

The way to address the issue now it seems is to fill the gamers with all types of prescription drugs. The legions of folks who take drugs for a separate issue may be prescribed even more different drugs to “combat” the “scourge” of gaming. It is like alcohol and drug addiction. The person has the opportunity to not abuse such substances.

What this new finding shows is that the country and the world is awash in labeling anything a disorder. For the vast majority of gamers, there is a problem in what they do. If Fortnite and MortalKombat serve as a way for people to connect with other individuals in a spirit of competition and collaboration, let that be the focus. Like people who hoard items, the idea is all in the choice. Gamers who can break away from the screen ought to be lauded if they win competitions, and the so-called mental illness-afflicted players should be helped by means of private therapists if it is at all possible. But to assign the name disorder to the gamer cheapens the enjoyment of the entire experience. Everyone who picks up a phone, a gamepad, or employs a keyboard should be able to engage in the sights and sounds, and not worry about whether they will develop an illness just because they got dunked on by some kid in Hong Kong from their basement in Kalamazoo, Michigan while playing NBA2K.

Let the gamers game with the full knowledge that they won’t get sick in the head by playing Tony Hawk’s Skate Jam.

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SKYLERIZED

I am a forever young, ego-driven, radical hipster.  Investor. Objectivist for life. Instagram: @skylerized

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