Gaming addiction is a highly debated issue among medical and psychological professionals around the world. Some believe that gaming fixation can be an official addiction and thus a type of mental disorder. There have been many incidents in countries like China and South Korea where gamers engage in gaming marathons that has resulted in the occasional death of the player. Yet despite these incidents, the American Medical Association still doesn't recognize the addiction.
But a recent study in Sweden recently found that gaming is not only addictive, but also found the psychological effects of gaming addiction to be more severe than those of crack cocaine addiction. Wait, what? Video games are more harmful than cocaine!?!? Sounds a little ridiculous. Yet that doesn't stop many professionals from looking for at ways to treat it. Among the professionals trying to treat said video game addiction is prominent London Psychologist Dr. Richard Graham.
Graham is taking a slightly different approach to the treatment of the "disease". His method? Entering the world of the gamers by joining World of Warcraft this fall. By doing this Graham hopes that other mental health experts and therapists will follow his lead. Graham states that "Those affected don't exhibit the same outward warning signs as most teenage anti-social behavior issues do because they're in their bedrooms most of the time, seemingly out of trouble. Because of this we can't get through to them in the traditional educational environment or intrude on their actual bedrooms. We need to turn to the internet itself to tackle these problems."
Graham is taking this approach seriously and has even taken his plan to Blizzard, the creators of the game. Graham is attempting to negotiate a deal in which Blizzard will provide him and his colleagues free subscriptions to the game (yeah, good luck with that). Graham is also working in tandem with other World of Warcraft players in order to create per advocacy groups in which players can report other players who they believe are suffering from the addiction.
An interesting paradox arises from Graham's noble quest. While joining the masses if addicted, will Graham and his colleagues themselves become addicted? Is the will power of Graham and his army of "shrinks" strong enough to withstand the draw of WoW? Whichever way it goes, this study should bring forth some interesting developments of this potential "video game addiction" disorder.