Why Is Gaming Disorder Back in the Spotlight?

With the evolution of technology, video games have become more immersive and accessible. As a result, many people have spent more time playing games. While gaming can be a fun and engaging way to pass the time, excessive gaming can lead to various negative consequences like addiction. With the increasing popularity of video games and the rise of online gaming communities, concerns about the potential harm of excessive gaming have increased. The topic of Gaming Disorder has returned to the spotlight. The renewed interest is due to increased reported cases, which has sparked a conversation about implications that may arise from online gaming disorder. How can the problem be tackled?

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Trends of Gaming Disorder in the UK over the Years

Gaming disorder is a relatively new concept, and limited data on its prevalence is available. However, there are many instances where a gaming problem has been reported worldwide. In 2007, a teenager shot his parents to death after they confiscated his game. Another man died in 2005 after playing World of Warcraft for over 50 hours at a stretch. These reports suggest that the number of individuals seeking help for gaming-related issues is rising. These concerns led some experts to classify excessive gaming as a disorder. And in 2018, the World Health Organization officially included Gaming Disorder in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

The trend is similar in the United Kingdom. According to Statista, the number of people playing video games in the UK reached a staggering 44.32 million in 2023. The gaming industry itself is the second most lucrative industry in the UK. According to industry reports, the UK is one of the world’s largest video game consumer revenue markets. It ranks as the sixth largest market, behind other major gaming nations such as China, South Korea, the United States, Japan, and Germany.

Despite being a smaller market than some of its global counterparts, the UK’s gaming industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by the increasing popularity of online and mobile gaming. And the number of patients seeking an addiction treatment programme remains relatively small compared to the overall number of gamers in the country. While the inclusion of Gaming Disorder in the ICD-11, it is clear that the topic of Gaming Disorder deserves attention. As video games continue to evolve and become a more central part of our lives, we must understand the potential risks and take steps to promote healthy gaming habits.

Why Is Gaming Disorder Back in the Spotlight?

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Gaming disorders hit an all-time peak during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns significantly impacted the gaming industry, with many people turning to video games to pass the time and stay connected with friends and family.

However, excessive gaming leads to addiction and other negative consequences for some individuals. According to The Guardian, the number of children and young adults seeking treatment for gaming addictions and disorders tripled over the last year in the UK. The pandemic caused significant disruptions to daily routines and social interactions, leading to increased stress and anxiety. In some cases, gaming has provided a way to cope with these feelings. However, as with any activity, excessive gaming can lead to negative consequences, including social isolation, poor academic or work performance, and physical health problems.

According to Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones, the founder and director of the NHS National Centre for Gaming Disorders, gaming disorders can profoundly impact children and their families. In some cases, excessive gaming can lead to a range of adverse outcomes, from skipping school or work to engaging in violent behaviour to causing family breakdowns.

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Efforts to Address the Issue: Gaming Disorder Treatment in the UK

To address these concerns, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) established the National Centre for Gaming Disorders in 2019, the country’s first of its kind. Since its opening, the clinic has treated hundreds of individuals, including children and their family members, for gaming-related issues.

Recently released data shows that 745 people have been referred to the clinic for treatment, indicating a growing awareness of the potential harms of excessive gaming. 89% of the referred patients are male, and the age range spans from 13-60. According to the manager, over 200 patients were referred in 2021.

Various treatment options are available, including cognitive-behavioural therapy and support groups. Still, more must be done to raise awareness and provide access to resources. Countries like China claim to have resolved gaming problems through strict regulation of devices, and the results showed that over 75% of young gamers cut down to 3 hours a week. The gaming industry in the UK also recognises the need for responsibility. Some companies have implemented measures to reduce the potential harm caused by gaming disorders. Some include;

  • Parental controls
  • Regulated time
  • Age-appropriate game ratings
  • Promoting healthy gaming habits.

Education campaigns aimed at parents and young people can also help raise awareness of the potential consequences of excessive gaming. Professor Bowden-Jones from the NHS emphasises the importance of identifying and treating gaming disorders as early as possible. As with other addictive and mental health disorders, early intervention can significantly improve outcomes the entire family. By seeking help and promoting healthy gaming habits, individuals and families can take positive steps towards improving their well-being and quality of life.

Get Treated for Gaming Disorder at Providence Project

As video games continue to evolve and become a more central part of our lives, we must understand the potential risks and take steps to promote healthy gaming habits. You can maintain a healthy gaming balance by limiting gaming time, taking breaks and finding alternative hobbies. Also, getting treatment for video gaming disorder is not a cause of stigmatisation. At Providence Project, we have many success stories of various types of addiction – gaming addiction inclusive. Our facilities are open to anyone who needs a safe environment for recovery from internet gaming compulsion. We provide therapy, support, and care for your recovery.