Gaming is a beautiful experience but getting addicted can affect every aspect of a person's life.
If you’ve ever spent hours trying to hone your skills on FIFA 18, you know that gaming addiction is a real thing.
While video games can look like fun, visually-stimulating experiences, addictions of all forms are dangerous. Excessive gaming can become a problem that affects all aspects of a person’s daily life, from physical well-being to mental health.
One minute, you’re caressing a new PlayStation 4 console and the Call of Duty 4 CD you’ve saved up for.
5 hours later, you’re a pile of sweat and fat, that can’t muster the motivation to do anything more than walk to the fridge and grab a can of Monster.
What does gaming addiction feel like?
“Do you know what it feels like to know you’ve finished a game but you just feel like starting again because it seems like the natural thing to do? It's like you wake up and the first thing that crosses your mind is the mad goal you scored on FIFA the night before", says Michael who has built a reputation as a gamer and is battling with his unhealthy gaming habit, “It’s not a nice thing when you look at it”.
Which is probably why the World Health Organisation intends to add gaming addiction as a disease when it updates its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for 2018.
If you ask any young person who has had the pleasure of touching a gamepad, gaming is a beautiful thing.
Multiplayer games give the players the competitive experience and that feeling of trying to be better than the other drives them to hone their skills.
Let’s not even talk about POV games. Or maybe we should.
The rate of advancement in gaming technology in the last few years has created experiences that are so immersive, you might be tempted to desire the real thing.
Take Call of Duty, for instance, the game throws you in the middle of a war, letting you experience it through your own eyes, ducking bullets and fighting for the lives of fellow soldiers.
Gaming in Nigeria is nowhere near as it is big in the US, but for years, Nigerians, young and old, have taken to gaming in a special way where the conditions allow.
Where they cannot afford, there are rickety sheds and shops where one can play a game for as little as 50 naira depending on the length of each episode.
When gamers get addicted though, it is usually easy to tell and there’s nothing desirable about it.
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Take Seun for instance, when he got admitted to the university, he was dismayed to find that there was little to do in the sleepy town of Ado-Ekiti where a hangout meant eating bush-meat at a shabby hotel and drinking beer that was way more expensive than pump price.
Then, one day, he stumbled on a game centre.
“That was the end. I used to stay there day and night. The owner of the game centre became so comfortable with me that he would let me play for free when people were not around. I didn’t notice it was a problem until the week before exams. I didn’t go to school for weeks, I didn’t read. I spent all my time in that game centre”, Seun says.
You may have a hard time explaining this to the average Nigerian gamer, especially where he makes money off betting with other gamers or gaming is the only substantial thing he does in a routine that is very unproductive.
How do you determine who is addicted?
Is it the busy young professional who comes home from work to sit behind his console till he can barely keep his eyes open or the young man awaiting results who practically lives in the game centre where he makes a couple of thousands every day winning bets.
To clear any doubts about what gaming addiction is, the WHO has defined it as “ a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour” that includes “impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
Basically, anyone who cannot control the desire to play a video game, who gives priority to games over aspects of their lives and continues to play games even though everything is tumbling down is an addict.
Which kind of makes it sound like all of us are gaming addicts.
The WHO has not exactly made it a disease yet. Only the draft version of the new manual has been released which means gaming addiction may or may not officially become a disease in 2018.
That doesn’t change anything, to be honest. All around Nigeria, we have hundreds of young people who are addicted to video games.
Seeing as that bridge has been crossed, the next conversation should about helping people understand that PlayStation can be a problem and find ways to balance enjoying video games with having a wholesome life.
Yes, it’s fun to hit a good shot but FIFA 18 cannot pay for your groceries.
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