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Bad news for Big Pharma: Gamers may not be addicts

Globe & Mail game reporter writes: "Research carried out by an Australian psychology graduate student into the concept of video game addiction has found "that gaming doesn't cause social problems, and social problems are not driving people to gaming." This flies in the face of the common perception that excessive gaming stunts the growth of players' social skills.

The ongoing discussion among members of the American Medical Association regarding whether to make video game addiction a clinical condition reminds me of the debate regarding whether obesity ought to be classified a diagnosable disease. An excellent article that ran in issue 14.10 of WIRED magazine cast doubt on the idea that obesity is a sickness and shed light on the process by which possible conditions become labelled official diseases-a process heavily influenced by Big Pharma.

"What is a disease?" writes author Thomas Goetz. "For the pharmaceutical industry, it's a business model. Disease offers an opportunity to develop and market drugs that help people get better and, along the way, help companies make a profit."

So, more officially recognized diseases and disorders means merrier drug companies.

With this in mind, the vaguely defined and poorly understood concept of video game addiction seems a perfect condition to be targeted for elevation to official affliction status. And, indeed, psychopharmacological cocktails are already being administered to treat it.

I can't claim to know whether excessive game playing meets the medical requirements to be classified a psychological addiction. However, it would seem a nebulous affliction at best, with the potential for plenty of false diagnoses brought on by parents concerned over reports they've read about people dying from exhaustion while playing an online game.

All I suggest is that, before giving video game addiction our society's stamp of approval and prescribing behaviour altering medications to avid players, the interests of all concerned parties should be taken into account.

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BeaArthur3783d ago

A game is like anything else in life. If you have the right personality you can become addicted to it. Some people are some are not.