What Needs to be Done About Gaming Addiction?

Gaming can lead to problems in a person’s life and be just as serious as drug, alcohol and gambling.  This issue needs to be addressed by our society, just as those addictions have been. 

Here is a working list that I started in 2003, about what needs to be done about excessive gaming.

1. Require parental controls on ALL games that CANNOT BE OVER RIDDEN, so a parent can EASILY set the number of hours a child can play.

2. Gaming companies do monitor the time every customer spends on the games.  Make these statistics public.  Use this information to help gamers who play excessively.  Limit amount of time that can be played on a game by ANY one, just as a person is limited to how much they drink, in a bar or how much marijuana they can smoke or how much cocaine they can injest.

3. Have different versions of games - for children (off-line, home PC) and for adults (on-line public servers) 

     Do not allow anyone under 18 on adult gaming servers because of violence and sexual and predator issues in game. (Because of the anonymity of the internet, an adult could disguise themselves as children, so public servers for children would not work.)

     Putting a child on a game that connects to the internet, is like dropping your child off at a tavern and leaving him/her there by themselves – unprotected and vulnerable to what other adults may do or say to them.

4. Have a rating system for the psychological addictiveness of the games (Much like the proof of alcohol) and rate the game per usage - such as the movies - G, PG, R, and X.    Because of the different issues with games, I believe the addictive nature of the game needs to be rated separate from the violent nature of the game.  Also, make the ratings easy to understand.  They can mimic the ones already created for movies, as we all know what those stand for."

5. Do research on how belonging to these gaming groups resemble being in a cult, are there subliminal messages in the games?  Brain washing, Mind control and limit what techniques gaming companies can use in these games to keep people on them.  What actually happens to a person’s brain when they game excessively?  Show the deterioration of it.

6. What psychological techniques are gaming companies using to keep people on the games?  Outlaw the use of mind control and subliminal messages, just as they did in theaters.

7.  Have the American Psychological Association (APA) recognize excessive gaming as a disorder  and include it in the next version of the DSM. It must be in there, before insurance companies will pay for treatment.
     The debate over whether excessive time spent using the computer is an obsession or an addiction may seem like a matter of semantics, but the distinction matters to insurance companies.  "The fact is it's not listed in the DSM ('Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders') as a diagnostic code for therapists and mental health practitioners to get reimbursed,”      Without a clear diagnosis as an addict, people suffering from gaming addiction could receive improper treatment since standards for treating obsessions and addictions vary. 

8. When a person is being evaluated by a therapist/psychiatrist/professional, add computer gaming as a source of question on the in-take form that can cause problems.  Now many professionals do not even bring that up as a possible problem that needs to be looked at.  Today, many professional therapists and counselors treat the affects of excessive gaming instead of looking at it as PART of the cause of their patients problem. 

9. Train professionals – ministers, therapists, MD’s, clinics, to recognize that excessive gaming can be harmful to a person’s health, and treat it as such.  Don’t use gaming as a reward when treating a person.  People use games as an escape, so they don’t have to deal with what is bothering them.  To have a professional suggest the person continue to use their “escape drug of choice” when the person is in a treatment setting is appalling and gets the patient NO WHERE!  This is happening ALL of the time today!

10. Create more inpatient treatment program for people coming off of gaming.  Address psychological issues that are still there, after the games are removed.

11. Direct people who are having issues with gaming—be they be the gamer or the family members or friends to the OLGA/OLG-Anon website  (www.olganon.org) and message board for more support when leaving the games.  Also, offer this website as a tool for professionals.

12. Inform all 12-step clearing houses that there is now a place for addicted gamers to go.

13. Assist others in starting OLGA/OLG-Anon chapters where needed.

14. Provide gaming treatment centers/programs for the addicted person and a separate one for their family/friends.

15. In church and other relationships preparedness classes an issue that must be brought up, is either one of the people gamers.  This does bring issues into a relationship, that both people need to be aware of, before committing to each other.

16. Excessive gaming steal’s a person’s soul/spirit.  There is nothing spiritual about it!  Churches/religious/spiritual institutions need to realize this and address it as such.

17.  Parenting classes in school and wherever else they are held – people who game, should be taught that the parenting and gaming do not mix.  Parenting will take a lot of time away from gaming.  If the person is a serious gamer, they would be wise to skip the children part.  Pedophiles are now using games as a media to contact and interact with children.  Also educate parents that games should not be used as a glorified babysitter.  They do not take the place of real life and the skills learned in games DOES NOT pass to real life.  Spending too much time on the computer and/or gaming actually retards the natural development of a child, no matter how old they are.

18. In schools and colleges, have support for students who are excessive gamers,  just as there is support for those who are addicted to other things.  Educate the teachers and student counselors that excessive gaming can be a problem, and when attempting to find out why a student is failing, ask that question.  During “Addiction Week” include excessive gaming as a possible problem.  Just say NO!

19. Discourage teachers from using computers as glorified teachers.  There is nothing like human interaction to teach a person how to be human.

20.Insurance companies – when talking with people in crisis – ask if they game/use computer excessively.

21.Written material to support those having issues with gaming and their family and friends —

  GAMER BIG  BOOK—Publish in all languages

  Daily reading book for OLGA and OLG-Anon

  Informational Flyers/Pamphlets

  Educational Videos

  Publish website in all languages

22. Public warning spots on TV - promoting responsible use of computer/games. (Such as with drugs and drinking alcohol).  These are no longer games, but Virtual Worlds.  Bring this to the RADAR Screen.

23.Game design – Every game should be required to have a safe spot, so a person can leave the game in a safe, timely manner.

24.DEATHS – Suicides - train law enforcement to ask to see if the person was a gamer.  This is a huge out used by gamers.  Start keeping statistics on the suicide rate of addicted gamers.

25. Have a gaming fee tax for every game sold to fund treatment for addicted gainers and/or their families and loved ones.

26.  Curfew – have a safe time.  All gaming servers shutdown from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. (Like bars)  THIS IS ALREADY BEING DONE IN SOME COUNTRIES.

27.  Outlaw selling certain games to anyone under 18.  Require ID’s to purchase these games, just as they do, for cigarettes.