Thoughts on Gaming Disorder

I just read an interesting article in the latest print issue of Clinical Psychiatry News, Vol. 51, No. 5, May 2023: “Gaming Disorder: New insights into a growing problem.”

This is news to me. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual lists it as an addiction associated with the internet primarily. It can cause social and occupational dysfunction, and was added to the DSM-5-TR in 2013 according to my search of the web. I’m not sure why I never heard of it. Or maybe I did and just failed to pay much attention to it.

There are studies about treatment of the disorder, although most of them are not founded in the concept of recovery. The research focus seems be on deficits. One commenter, David Greenfield, MD, founder and medical director of the Connecticut-based Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, said that thirty years ago, there was almost no research on the disorder. His remark about the lack of focus on recovery was simple but enlightening, “Recovery means meaningful life away from the screen.”

Amen to that.

That reminded me about the digital entertainment available thirty years ago. In 1993, the PC game Myst was released. Sena and I played it and were mesmerized by this simple, point and click adventure game with intricate puzzles.

Of course, that was prior to the gradual evolution of computer gaming into massive multiplayer online role-playing and first-person shooters and the like. It sounds like betting is a feature of some of these games, which tends to increase the addictive potential.

Sena plays an old time Scrabble game on her PC and other almost vintage age games. I have a cribbage game I could play on my PC, but I never do. I much prefer playing real cribbage with Sena on a board with pegs and a deck of cards. We also have a real Scrabble game and we enjoy it a lot. She wins most of the time.

This is in contrast to what I did many years ago. I had a PlayStation and spent a lot of time on it. But I lost interest in it after a while. I don’t play online games of any kind. I’m a little like Agent K on Men in Black II when Agent J was unsuccessfully trying to teach him how to navigate a space ship by using a thing which resembled a PlayStation controller:

Agent J: Didn’t your mother ever give you a Game Boy?

Agent K: WHAT is a Game Boy?

Nowadays, I get a big kick out of learning to juggle. You can’t do that on the web. I like to pick up the balls, clown around, and toss them high, which occasionally leads to knocking my eyeglasses off my head. I usually catch them.

Juggling is a lot more fun than playing Myst. I would prefer it to any massive multiplayer online game. I never had a Game Boy.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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