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Gaming & Mental Health

In a high profile psychological experiment called Bandura and Bobo Dolls (1961), Albert Bandura and his team determined a process by which children internalize aggression- specifically, through their interactions and observations.

Simply put, his findings revealed that children exposed to violent behavior were most likely to emulate violent behavior – a phenomenon that sowed the seeds of scapegoating the video gaming industry for juvenile delinquency, teenage depression, and addiction.

Nevertheless, in the defense of video games, it is worthwhile knowing that the experiment itself had several drawbacks including low ecological validity: the extent to which an experiment represents the real-world surroundings. Often lab-based experiments- involving the manipulation of variables – cannot account for realistic social settings where children are either kept away from watching violence on television or do so under adult supervision.

Nevertheless, the seeds have long been sown and are now being watered from waters across the globe, causing us to question, what are the repercussions?

Gaming disorder has been declared both an official medical condition and a mental disorder, in a controversial decision made by the World Health Organization (WHO). It has therefore now been added to the official diagnostic manual and defined as that which involves a “pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” and can even surface as compulsive video gaming behavior. While the act of gaming may invite danger, there are also dangers on the other end of the spectrum.

Electrophobia involves a timid fear of video games that have progressed since the 1980s, for each decade involves a bloodier, more brutal gaming innovation. With such fears, it becomes confusing as to why influencers like Youtuber Johnny Chlodini have spoken about video games and mental health and emphasize the need to look at the upside of video games.

Lucky for us, there are also others that share our confusion. So hear me, hear me! Let’s call in the controversies shadowing WHO’s case: the video gaming industry has hastened to oppose WHO’s classification; even the Entertainment Software Association singled out the WHO to rescind their classification claiming that the “Gaming disorder” isn’t based on “sufficiently robust evidence to justify the inclusion.”

Meanwhile, Oxford University’s Professor Andy Przybylski studied the relationship between mental health and gaming; he studies showed that merely 0.3% of gamers might experience some problems in controlling the amount of time they spend video gaming. He claimed that while this figure may involve “thousands of Britons,” had gaming been “truly addictive” then one wouldn’t have been able to build addiction clinics fast enough. “ They’d be running out of cement.”

Even the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has not included video game addiction in its most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published in 2013 either. However, during this publication period, the APA said it did not have sufficient evidence to determine whether gaming disorder was a specific mental health disorder. It has, however, recommended further research into the area. Nonetheless, on the contrary, other mental health experts, however, have shown seismic support. Personas like Dr. John Jiao – an emergency medicine doctor, claimed the classification was “sorely needed” – an opinion that appears natural considering video games like Grand Theft Auto has sequentially faced accusations of being aggressive while World of Warcraft was criticized as far back as 2005 for destroying one’s interpersonal skills

Where all this anti-video game talk may be perceived as perpetually pessimistic, the sun has risen to make us consider the goods in gamification. First thing first, this alien-like gamification mantra means the application of gaming structures, for example, competition or motor skills, in routine life and it tends to be crucial in psychological counseling, considering that the APA’s article, “ The Benefits of Playing Video Games” estimated that 97% of the American youth played an hour of video games in 2014. The Game theory has been used in counseling for some time now, especially in understanding the crux of child development. Often called play therapy and useful in understanding a child’s psyche, those children involved are relieved of normal pressures and allowed to play freely. While the enthusiasm is directed towards board games or anything non-virtual of the sort existing today, mental health pros can identify changes in interactions and behaviors of different kinds.

Glory be to thy optimism, the goods of gamification are not purely isolated to counseling. Instead, they are useful in mental health simulation.

While the good and gruesomeness of gaming have both been weighed, it’s worthwhile wondering how one can be absolutely sure which is the “truer” takeaway, causing us to accent the sociology backing this philosophy. While our Karl Marx advocates use the hypodermic syringe model to suggest, when you see violence you are violent, others have presented the drip effect to suggest that video games slowly but surely ingrain or “drip” their effects within the masses. But both these cases treat gamers as passive, cultural dopes culturally controlled by social strings and unable to shape their own actions. And so, if one considers humans to be unique in their actions, reactions, and inaction, then it’s easier to close the argument with the conclusion that the effect on each individual is variable based on either biological genes or social jeans, and video games can not be held 100% culpable.

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