The excessive use of videogames can create dependency. To support it, this
time, it is not only parents and educators worried about what for many
young people is becoming more than just an obsession; furthermore, the World Health Organization that has inserted the gaming disorder in the eleventh edition of the diagnostic manual
of the International Classification Diseases (ICD). Cited under the heading
“disorders due to addictive behaviors,” the compulsive use of video games
is considered like other gambling disorders, like betting and poker,
alongside other already classified addictions, such as drugs and alcohol.
The new ICD will be published in mid-2018 (more than twenty years after the
previous one, released in the nineties), but online, on the WHO website,
the document has already been available since January.

The gaming disorder

What is gaming disorder? In the draft, the
question, expressly posed, is followed by a concise and detailed answer: “a
pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”)
characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to
gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence
over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation
of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” And
furthermore, ” For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern
must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in
personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important
areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the basis for the
identification of health trends and statistics at the global level and, at
the same time, serves as an international standard for the reporting of
diseases and health conditions, a sort of reference point used by doctors
and researchers all over the world to diagnose and classify patients’

The decision to include the gaming disorder in the ICD-11 is based on the
in-depth study of the evidence available worldwide and it is the
result of the consensus of experts from the various disciplines involved in
that field.

The inclusion of the gaming disorder in the new list of diseases of the WHO
comes after years of analysis on the danger represented by excessive
technological gaming, both online and offline, regardless of the device
used (PC, console, tablet, smartphone). Numerous studies have been brought
forth and published, studies carried out in the medical field, but also in the
socio-psycho-pedagogical use and abuse of ‘connection’, for play purposes,
on the part of not only adolescents and adults, but also by children. It
was a couple of years ago that the


published by the famous magazine Jama Pediatrics showed that
electronic games, in which the aim is to kill or raid, make children unable
to comprehend the consequences of violence.

And, before that, in 2013 the American Academy of Pediatrics detected the


of new media when the exposure and use of new technologies by children and
adolescents became excessive.

A call for caution without alarmism. Some good advice

The research, however, also shows that the disorder affects only a small
percentage of people who engage in digital gaming or videogames. But they somehow invite those who use it to pay greater attention to the amount of time that is
spent playing, in particular when this involves the exclusion of other
daily activities, or changes in physical and psychological health are
noticed in social relations that could be attributed directly to their way
of playing.

So no alarm, but attention – caution – to the players, this, yes. And for
doctors, especially those already involved in the field, a further step
forward in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the disorder, which
could benefit from a shared approach, from the exchange of data and
statistics, from the elaboration of study programs and a wide-range

To worry, must be the addiction, the excess, the desire to play at
all costs, a kind of irrepressible instinct, like that which unfortunately,
can hit many who, literally caught, captured by the game, end up losing the
contact with reality. Kids like everyone who play for hours and hours, even
late at night, looking for the most modern and technological videogame…
According to some, social withdrawal is often caused by overbearing parents
who prefer not to let their children go out, out of their own laziness and
to also keep them under control, or for fear of what’s out there. While, in
the case of younger children, videogames play the role of baby-sitter, and they even
end up replacing the television. For the older ones, however, the ‘web’
often becomes the only space for socializing, and the virtual multimedia
game replaces real life.

The invitation then, addressed to parents, is to spend more time with
their children.

It has been observed, in fact, that even the

dependence on videogames develops in those who are already fragile
personalities and live in situations of hardship often due to a real
absence of parents,

if not explicitly experienced, at least perceived as lack of sharing –
absence of attention. In essence, often, the dependence on videogames
represents the effect of the difficulty of parents to relate to their
children and that can generate social isolation, which may drive to
videogame addiction. This is what happens, in the most extreme cases, in
Japan where there is a very high number of hikikomori, adolescents who
refuse the world and stayed behind closed doors, avoiding any contact with
the surrounding reality, glued to the internet and often to video games, a
phenomenon we have already talked about in our


The real challenge is not to forbid but to educate

Videogames should not be demonized, but rather controlled
. The advice – it’s imaginable – could be imprinted on a box that contains
the phrase: ‘handle with care’, that care that is needed in all
educational and training processes, in the various stages of development of
the person and his character.

In fact, the videogame is able to offer numerous opportunities.

So it is straight from these new studies that it is possible to re-start
for an analysis of videogames that takes into account potentials and
dangers, and help educators and parents to act as cultural mediators of a
process, playful, but also educational, functional at an adequate and
conscious use, according to the age of the player/user, of a technological
means that has become part of our daily life. Because, both the studies and
the clinical analysis prove it: the risk of going from use to the abuse of
videogames also depends on the relationship that young people establish
with their peers and with adults in authoritative positions, from the
conscious control by parents upon their children, from the state of
dissatisfaction, discomfort, when it comes to subjects who no longer are
very young and for whom the game goes from being a moment of leisure to an
escape from reality.

The game studies, moreover, in some way invite us to consider
videogames not only as a means of entertainment, but as a tool capable of
producing multiple languages ​​and styles of communication, for which,
therefore, especially according to some scholars (Bissel) the narrative and
expressive dimension, more than their formal, technical, eminently playful
aspect, should be predominant. For the innovative scope of the experience
and for its ethical value, an educational project dedicated to video games,
made at the Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid by Arturo Encinas
Cantalapiedra and Alberto Oliván Tenorio, received a special mention in the
first edition of the prized Razón Abierta, organized by the Ratzinger
Foundation. “La enseñanza de la Narración en Videojuegos o cómo relatamos
nuestra vida a través del videojuego”, is a course that aims to guide future videogame makers in their professional work, both from the technical point of view and from the
point of view of the values that audio visual creations could convey.

It is a path designed for the training of experts in the sector who are
able to develop attractive videogames, consistent with the dignity of the person, that is the player who is always a person, and the person who is represented in the game through fictional


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