Is it Really a Mental Disorder?

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There is a small video-game parlor of modest origin in a small alley in a locality in Allahabad. The entire space consists of just two burning small rooms, moldy furniture, a four second hand gaming console and a mostly pirated ladder.

Outside, a bunch of little boys are always scared at the entrance, eagerly awaiting their turn. Inside, about 5-6 little boys sit cross-legged on the screen, playing, shaking and punching the air as they angrily press a button on their controller.

“I can’t play video games here just when I’m at school or have a power cut. I like playing action games which take a lot of time and I don’t miss any mission, “said Vishal.

Vishal, an 18-year-old student, spends about seven to eight hours a day in a gaming parlor, worried about his father, who runs an electrical shop, and worried about the boy’s future.

Hundreds of kilometers away in a magnificent neighborhood of Delhi, six youngsters gap on the screen of their laptops playing data. Occasionally, one of them stretches their backs or breaks into impurity as cigarette butts and half-eaten fast food packets threaten to flood.

For these young people, the average session lasts seven to eight hours. “We bring our computers and link them to a normal network for the game. Sometimes we don’t see the light of day for two whole days. At such times it’s all coffee and cigarettes,” declared one gamer.

Gaming is so important to him that he has even lost friends who had problems during his playing hours. He has also experienced hot moments with his parents on broken game controllers. “But I have a strong community of online gamers that I know as my friends, and I love that,” he said.

On June 18, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified compulsory gaming as a mental health disorder. According to the WHO, gaming disorder is characterized by poor control over gaming and a growing preference for gaming over other activities, to the extent that it takes precedence over other hobbies and daily activities. The WHO, in its latest update to the International Classification of Diseases, also said that gaming can be as addictive as substances like cocaine and gambling.

“Gaming can be seen on the same spectrum as other substance-use disorders. The presence of compulsive thoughts about drinking or playing sports and the mandatory need to act on it identifies substance addiction, “said Dr. Rizwana Nulwala, a practicing psychotherapist at Xavier’s Institute of Counseling Psychology, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

“It’s not a substance like alcohol or cocaine that is considered important. It’s a behavior you can’t stop once you start a habit. -It disrupts personal relationships and physical conditions are what make it an addiction similar to drug abuse, “she added.

Gaming has long been an addictive quality, with most games involving multiplayers and other simulative interfaces. But gaming addiction is not as easy as it seems.

A lot goes into making video games addictive. Designers work hard, use predictive algorithms to hook players, and a lot of behavioral psychology rotates the spectrum of video games so that “you can’t put it down”.

Dr. of Sarvam Neuropsychiatric Center. Herschel Awasthi said, “The basic premise behind most addictions is the same – the need to be in a constant” high “state or to be in search of one. Gaming is a form of “instant gratification” where a person can live enjoyable experiences without actually moving an inch. Similarly, in the case of drug abuse, the high productivity they offer gives the person an easy way to feel happy or meaningful and gradually disconnects from the real world. “

Yash Ravi, a 12th standard student at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya in New Delhi, who was a loyal spectator of his brother’s FIFA gaming sessions until he started himself.

“Once I was introduced to the online gaming scene, the hours I spent playing increased dramatically. Playing online provided a platform to play with some of the best players in the world. With FIFA, I played Gears of War and I started playing 6-7 hours every day. I will completely shut down everything in the world and play without a break. I think I was a pro, “said Yash, who is packing his PlayStation console in his final year of school after realizing what a powerful distraction it is.

Yeshe said he stopped himself from becoming addicted instead of playing football and studying. “It wasn’t easy but I had to do it for myself,” he said. Yeshe said he knows that sports are highly addictive and that crossing the line can be dangerous.

Contacting a psychiatrist or specialist to play an excessive video game is not a traditionally practiced response, possibly due to a lack of awareness of the condition.

But changes in mobile technology and the advent of games like Candy Crush, Mini Militia and PubG, which provide network-based online multiplayer on users’ phones, have given gaming addiction widespread acceptance and recognition as a serious condition in recent years.

The Sarvam Neuropsychiatric Center reported the case of a young male engineering student who was playing sports with batchmates over the weekend. In time, he bought a gaming device for his room, started gaming online, and soon it became his whole world.

“Over a 1-year period, the student spent 20 hours a day gaming, dropping out of college, poor personal health and nutrition, lost drive for all aspects of life, overspending on gaming accessories and reportedly sleeping with a gaming remote in hand. Will go and start after space, “said Dr. Awasthi of the Neuropsychiatric Center.

Suspecting a mental disorder, the engineering student’s parents panicked and brought him in for rehabilitation.

In this regard, the WHO designation is an important step towards legitimizing concerns about gamers who ignore other parts of their lives. It can make addicts more willing to seek treatment, encourage more physicians to study the subject in more depth, and increase the ability for insurance companies to cover gaming disorders.

Although there is no standard treatment for addicts, doctors say that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective.

ML Kalra, a general physician at Max Healthcare Hospital in Panchsheel Park, said: “There have been many cases where parents have been guided by their children’s compulsive gaming patterns because they do not understand it at all. “Physical wear and tear. Children addicted to gaming are susceptible to a number of muscle and joint diseases and recurrent stress injury (RSI) which is extremely harmful in the long run.”

The gaming industry around the world has strongly backed the WHO classification, calling it “deeply flawed” while pointing to the “educational, therapeutic and recreational value of the game”.

Mrinal Dutt, a 23-year-old professional gamer with Bluestacks India, believes that the gaming industry still has a special place today: micro niche.

“Saying you want to make it into the gaming industry is probably more ridiculous than trying to make it into the dance industry or any creative industry,” he explained.

Back at school, Mrinal’s gaming hours were limited to one but he was allowed to watch six hours of TV every day. “If I watch TV, I just watch things. If I play games, different genres allow me to do different things. I’m constantly brainstorming to solve problems at lightning speed, and even then, Someone can solve it. He is faster than me to win, “he said.

While some mental health professionals insist that gaming disorder is not a medical condition alone but a symptom or side effect of more familiar conditions such as depression or anxiety, people like Mrinal who have been gaming for years are largely in disagreement.

“Video games are evolving into fully developed forms of media dedicated to giving you an experience that lets you be a hero,” he said. The 23-year-old said that being a ‘hero’ can help you deal with things better.

Many in the gaming community consider the WHO’s temporary move to prematurely pathogens digital gaming.

As disproportionate gaming habits are considered addictive, the diagnosis is based solely on pathology, with the risk of pathologizing normal behavior and codifying a dangerous stigma towards gamers.

This becomes even more problematic when approached with the lens of viewing gaming as a business.

“I think gaming is a social stigma, it’s totally narrow at the moment. You tell people about e-sports, and they just say: Why do you want to see other people play video games? Won’t you play it yourself? Oh, but that’s what you say about cricket matches and may God have mercy on your soul, “Mrinal said.

While the gaming scene in India is brand new, it is spreading fast and gaining momentum. According to the 2017 Google-KPMG report titled ‘Online Gaming in India: 2021’, India’s online gaming market is estimated at 60 360 million, and is expected to grow to $ 1 billion by 2021.

In Asia and the rest of the world, professional gamers are regarded as celebrities and gaming competitions are quite mainstream.

In this regard, India has made a late start with some small scale gaming tournaments emerging in the scene. MTV hosted a big tournament called “UCYPHER” two months ago, which featured an admirable prize pool for sports. Data. ESL India is another gaming tournament with a wide format of seasons and leagues in which teams of different calibers can participate.

At the age of 20, Durgesh Konde decided to pursue a career in gaming and began devoting ten hours a day to it.

“I started making money easily by winning a lot of local tournaments and getting good at video games became my whole life. Like any other Indian parent, my parents were against my decision to pursue a career in gaming but it did not deter me, “Konde claimed, adding that his decision was inspired by the international gaming scene.

Today, Condડે works with Ubisoft as a game tester.

“I work 8 hours a day and practice data for another 6 hours. But this 14 hour screen time makes me better at my job. People really need to understand that gaming is a serious business, “said Konde.

However, he agreed that a career in something like e-sports is still taboo in Indian society.

Conde thinks the biggest problem with WHO’s classification is that it casts a shadow over professional gamers because of its inability to distinguish between “dedication and addiction.”

“Even when I was playing 10+ hours a day, I did a lot of things like reading, swimming and organizing gigs. I’m in love with my work, give my best and he pays my bills, “Konde said.

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