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Addiction isnt just a game - Readers Feature

Playing video games can be taken to extremes

A reader offers their thoughts on gaming addiction becoming an acknowledged medical condition and the question of parental responsibility.

The recent decision by the World Health Organisation to class gaming addiction as a specific form of mental illness has certainly raised a few eyebrows.

On one level it might seem like theyre onto something. Every gamer will understand the just one more go mentality that comes with our favourite pass time but is that any different to other forms of more socially-accepted entertainment?

Its quite common to hear people talk of binge-watching box sets of TV programmes. Indeed, how many hours of soap operas and dramas does the average viewer watch per week? Is that to be classified too? In a nation where sitting down in the evening to watch TV with a bottle of wine is the accepted norm, who are they to judge anyone? The truth is anything we enjoy can become a problem if we take it too far.

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I come to this debate as a musician of many years. Ive seen true addiction in all its ugly forms and Ive lost friends to it. Both directly through substance abuse and indirectly when the enormity of the task of shaking the addiction became too much to bear.

When you see this in that context its difficult to accept that gaming is the problem. To me its quite clear that some people have addictive personalities and others dont. Personally, theres no doubt that I do. While Ive never been tempted to stray too deep into the more corrosive sides of life I can see that I have traits that could get out of control if I let them.

My teenage years and early twenties were spent obsessively playing the guitar. Eight to nine hours of my life were devoted to that singular thing every single day. I was never diagnosed as being addicted. It was just seen as dedication. A personal drive to achieve excellence. If I was to examine it through the prism of the definition of addiction, however, it clearly ticks a lot of those boxes.

In recent years Ive had a lot to do with professional sport. Its quite clear that the people who rise to the top have exactly the same mentality. They obsess about their area of expertise. If theyre not doing it theyre probably thinking about it. Indeed, if you believe the 10,000 hour rule; that anyone who does something for 10,000 hours is an expert, its difficult to see how its possible to become really good at anything without a healthy dose of obsession.

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With most of the cases that have been put forward as examples of gaming addiction theres one common element. A parent who is trying to explain a situation that has developed without wanting to accept their part in it. Children always want things that are bad for them. Whether its chips for every meal or to stay up way too late.

If your child wants something you believe is bad for them its your responsibility to stop them. Thats what being a parent is. You are there to guide your child around the pitfalls of life. You cant discharge that responsibility to the state, schools, pharmaceutical companies, or the entertainment industry. The simple truth is, from the moment of conception to adulthood the buck stops with you.

By reader Carrigagulla (gamertag/PSN ID)

The readers feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter.

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