Game Over: Video Game Addiction is Spreading

Playing a video game can be an enjoyable experience and is a great way to pass the time. Whether playing alone or online with others, video games continue to grow in today’s society. But having too much of anything can be bad for you, and video games are no exception. As a matter of fact, video game addiction has become a mental health problem that many experts still take issue in categorizing.

What’s more alarming is that it’s not just the United States. Countries like Japan, the Netherlands and Canada have spurred cases and investigations on the subject. Let’s take a look at what video game addiction has become for many of them.

China: Video Game Overload

Online video games in China have become increasingly popular in the past decade. Unfortunately, there are a number of cases where people binge for days on video games, even to the point of keeling over.

In 2008, China was made the first country to declare gaming addiction as a “clinical disorder,” while also introducing an anti-addiction law that makes game companies limit playtime for minors. Not to mention that treatment on video game and online addiction in the country is some of the most controversial.

Children and adults affected by this addiction are placed into China’s special video game/internet addiction rehabilitation camps. These military-style facilities include daily physical regiments, disciplinary exercises and isolation.

Some of these facilities have claimed a 75 percent success-rate in curing addiction, but critics have deemed these treatments as more damaging. The death of a Chinese teen at one of the camps has led to more questioning about the methods used. With these type of addictions being called an epidemic by leaders, the Chinese government will likely seek out more options.

South Korea: Competitive Gamers and Compulsive Gamers

South Korea is widely known for having some of the best eSports teams for games like League of Legends. Korean culture even sees the act of playing video games as a social activity. However, this is not without its misgivings.

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Residents may celebrate and encourage gaming, but the government sees many problems because of it. Online gaming accounts for roughly 90 percent of addiction cases in the country.

Due to its exponential rise, the government passed the “Cinderella Act,” which prevents children under the age of 16 from getting access into gaming websites between midnight and 6 a.m. Their own treatment facilities are also government-sponsored and include a technological approach to fixing addiction. It ranges from neurofeedback- or biofeedback therapy to brain scans.

Canada: Excessive Video Game Playtime

A study last year by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto found that about 13 percent of participating students had reported health problems due to video game addiction. Their symptoms included loss of control, withdrawal and disregard for consequences.

Studies on video game addiction by the Centre started in 2007. Compared to last year’s results, the overall increase of addiction has gone up by 9 percent. As a growing problem hitting youths especially, Canada offers some of the most wide-range options of treatment.

Psychological care facilities have specialized methods catered toward online and video game addiction throughout the country. This, along with therapists that have studied and worked with a number of patients who suffered from video game addiction, is plentiful.

United States: Is it Video Game Addiction?

Although below China when it comes to the population of gamers, the U.S. stands divided when it comes to the subject of video game addiction. A decades-wide study on the topic by psychologist, Douglas Gentile, saw that roughly 8.5 percent of children who play video games in the U.S. suffer from addiction.

Others have seen video game addiction as something that has become wrought by political pressure from other countries. Dr. Anthony M. Bean, a licensed clinical psychologist in Texas, published a paper with three colleagues in the hopes to stop the term “gaming disorder” from being officially named by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, and the International Compendium of Diseases.

Bean argues that the lack of understanding on why patients turn to video games reduced when the addiction was classified as a disorder. He also added that it would, in turn, stigmatize video games even more by society.

Whether or not video game addiction should have a label akin to depression is another argument in itself. But in the end, many countries saw a rise in the video game market that has culminated into, once again, too much of something.

About Jarek Martinez

Born in Chicago, Illinois, a journalism major with plenty of hope for his future and career. Reporting and photography are improving every day, but writing is the passion. The drive. Avid movie watcher and media guy. Also minoring in legal studies and applying for paralegal certification. A big dog person as well.

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