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Time to call for a global public health approach in prevention of the onset and progression of problematic gaming

Commentary on: Policy responses to problematic video game use: A systematic review of current measures and future possibilities (Király et al., 2018)

Authors: Thomas Chung, Simmy Sum and Monique Chan

Problematic video gaming is a global problem. Policy and programs responses to the problem vary among countries, partly due to cultural differences in the east and the west, meaning that caution is needed in drawing comparisons. Promoting parental education and positive youth development would be a useful approach to curb problematic behavior among children and adolescents. We suggest using a public health approach, based on our experience in dealing with commodities, which are harmful to health.

Open access

Background and aims

Video gaming is highly prevalent in modern culture, particularly among young people, and a healthy hobby for the majority of users. However, in recent years, there has been increasing global recognition that excessive video gaming may lead to marked functional impairment and psychological distress for a significant minority of players. Esports is a variant of video gaming. It is a relatively new phenomenon but has attracted a considerable number of followers across the world and is a multimillion dollar industry. The aim of this briefing paper is to review the global situation on esports and related public health implications.

Methods

A non-systematic review was conducted. Information obtained from the Internet and PubMed was collated and presented as genres of games, varieties and magnitudes of impacts, popularity, fiscal impact in monetary terms, government involvement, and public health implications.

Results

There are several different kinds of esports but there was no clear categorization on the genre of games. Many tournaments have been organized by gaming companies across the world with huge prize pools, and some of these events have government support. Little information on the health effects associated with esports was identified.

Discussion and conclusions

A majority of the sources of information were from commercial settings, and failed to declare conflicts of interest, which may result in a biased picture of the current situation. When gaming activity is being further promoted under the umbrella of esports, it seems reasonable to expect an increase in problematic gaming and thus increased prevalence of gaming disorder and hazardous gaming. With increasing demand for treatment services for gaming addition/disorder in different countries across the world, it is a significant public health concern. More empirically based research on this topic is needed.

Open access
Authors: John B. Saunders, Wei Hao, Jiang Long, Daniel L. King, Karl Mann, Mira Fauth-Bühler, Hans-Jürgen Rumpf, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar, Thomas Chung, Elda Chan, Norharlina Bahar, Sophia Achab, Hae Kook Lee, Marc Potenza, Nancy Petry, Daniel Spritzer, Atul Ambekar, Jeffrey Derevensky, Mark D. Griffiths, Halley M. Pontes, Daria Kuss, Susumu Higuchi, Satoko Mihara, Sawitri Assangangkornchai, Manoj Sharma, Ahmad El Kashef, Patrick Ip, Michael Farrell, Emanuele Scafato, Natacha Carragher and Vladimir Poznyak

Online gaming has greatly increased in popularity in recent years, and with this has come a multiplicity of problems due to excessive involvement in gaming. Gaming disorder, both online and offline, has been defined for the first time in the draft of 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). National surveys have shown prevalence rates of gaming disorder/addiction of 10%–15% among young people in several Asian countries and of 1%–10% in their counterparts in some Western countries. Several diseases related to excessive gaming are now recognized, and clinics are being established to respond to individual, family, and community concerns, but many cases remain hidden. Gaming disorder shares many features with addictions due to psychoactive substances and with gambling disorder, and functional neuroimaging shows that similar areas of the brain are activated. Governments and health agencies worldwide are seeking for the effects of online gaming to be addressed, and for preventive approaches to be developed. Central to this effort is a need to delineate the nature of the problem, which is the purpose of the definitions in the draft of ICD-11.

Open access

Including gaming disorder in the ICD-11: The need to do so from a clinical and public health perspective

Commentary on: A weak scientific basis for gaming disorder: Let us err on the side of caution (van Rooij et al., 2018)

Authors: Hans-Jürgen Rumpf, Sophia Achab, Joël Billieux, Henrietta Bowden-Jones, Natacha Carragher, Zsolt Demetrovics, Susumu Higuchi, Daniel L. King, Karl Mann, Marc Potenza, John B. Saunders, Max Abbott, Atul Ambekar, Osman Tolga Aricak, Sawitri Assanangkornchai, Norharlina Bahar, Guilherme Borges, Matthias Brand, Elda Mei-Lo Chan, Thomas Chung, Jeff Derevensky, Ahmad El Kashef, Michael Farrell, Naomi A. Fineberg, Claudia Gandin, Douglas A. Gentile, Mark D. Griffiths, Anna E. Goudriaan, Marie Grall-Bronnec, Wei Hao, David C. Hodgins, Patrick Ip, Orsolya Király, Hae Kook Lee, Daria Kuss, Jeroen S. Lemmens, Jiang Long, Olatz Lopez-Fernandez, Satoko Mihara, Nancy M. Petry, Halley M. Pontes, Afarin Rahimi-Movaghar, Florian Rehbein, Jürgen Rehm, Emanuele Scafato, Manoi Sharma, Daniel Spritzer, Dan J. Stein, Philip Tam, Aviv Weinstein, Hans-Ulrich Wittchen, Klaus Wölfling, Daniele Zullino and Vladimir Poznyak

The proposed introduction of gaming disorder (GD) in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) has led to a lively debate over the past year. Besides the broad support for the decision in the academic press, a recent publication by van Rooij et al. (2018) repeated the criticism raised against the inclusion of GD in ICD-11 by Aarseth et al. (2017). We argue that this group of researchers fails to recognize the clinical and public health considerations, which support the WHO perspective. It is important to recognize a range of biases that may influence this debate; in particular, the gaming industry may wish to diminish its responsibility by claiming that GD is not a public health problem, a position which maybe supported by arguments from scholars based in media psychology, computer games research, communication science, and related disciplines. However, just as with any other disease or disorder in the ICD-11, the decision whether or not to include GD is based on clinical evidence and public health needs. Therefore, we reiterate our conclusion that including GD reflects the essence of the ICD and will facilitate treatment and prevention for those who need it.

Open access