From healthy to problematic gaming?

Video gaming divides people’s opinions; some people love them and see the positive impact they have, whilst others think that they are a waste of time and can be detrimental to people’s wellbeing. Treatment for problematic gaming follows the same polarised model of thinking, with most treatment providers encouraging abstinence for gamers.

 At Gamewell, we take a revolutionary approach to problematic gaming. We are not anti-gaming; we are pro-gamer. This means that we show our clients to achieve a healthy relationship with gaming, without having to commit to totally giving them up. Our ed-tech platform aims to educate and inform users, so that they can better understand what healthy gaming looks like for them, and how to go about accomplishing it. Our idea is that with knowledge comes power; the power of being able to game healthily. 

Mainstream problematic gaming treatment usually mimics that of drug or alcohol treatment. Whilst there are certain behavioural and neurological similarities, this does not take into account the unique circumstances of individuals who play video games. We are composed of several therapists who are not only highly qualified in their field, but are also informed about gaming. It is this combination which makes Gamewell unique. We understand that gaming has many benefits, including social, recreational, and educational.

Gaming Disorder

In general, time spent gaming is used as a measure across scientific literature related to gaming disorder. However, when we examine video games and their effects on cognitive function, social skills, and beyond, we see the need to involve more complex measures to diagnose gaming disorder. Playing time, on its own, is an insufficient measure that fails to capture the intricacies of gaming, and doesn’t take individual circumstances into account.

In order to assess and treat disordered gaming, it is important to do it holistically. This means looking at the gamer’s life as a whole. This means that we must look at an individual’s motivations to game; do they simply do it for fun, or are they using it to distract themselves from negative aspects of their lives? We also need to consider whether or not gaming is taking precedence over other areas of their life. Is their schoolwork or employment being affected by it? Is their time spent gaming to the detriment of their personal relationships? In examining this, we can build a picture of how gaming fits into the individual’s life.

Unhealthy Gaming

Not all gaming is unhealthy, but there is reason to believe that unhealthy gaming can present itself in a number of ways. The Gamewell Ed-Tech Program aims to discuss the various manifestations of unhealthy gaming, while also outlining how gaming can be enjoyed in a healthy and fulfilling manner. In cases where severe problematic gaming does exist, therapeutic interventions such as those discussed in the Gamewell Training Programme for Professionals, can be used effectively to help gamers return to playing video games in a healthy and productive manner.

Gaming as Part of a Healthy Lifestyle

Though video games have been subject to fear mongering and negative attention, there are studies that support gaming as part of a healthy lifestyle. One of the most common criticisms of gaming is that it leads to social isolation, due to the isolated nature of the activity itself. The theory is that since games are played in solitude, people distance themselves from friends and put their social skills at risk. The results of studies from the last five years tell a different story – that there are no differences between non-problematic gamers and non-gamers in regard to the quality and quantity of social relationships in their lives. Gaming also has many social and educational benefits when used correctly.

The Effects of Gaming on Neurotransmitters

Gaming can have positive effects on the brain’s reward system and serve as a healthy way to receive boosts of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. When an individual maintains an unhealthy relationship with gaming it can be the individual’s sole source of these feeling-boosting neurotransmitters.. Among excessive video game users, it is common to find “unbalanced dopamine”, “dopamine exhaustion”, or low availability of dopamine receptors. However, the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is its ability to change, means that even if gamers are suffering from these symptoms it is possible to return to natural levels without completely giving up gaming.

Professional Gaming

Being a professional gamer can be very lucrative, in the sense that it can provide a stable and competitive income, as well as serve as a rewarding and exciting career path for those who are interested in gaming. Gamewell provides training to help people achieve their goals in relation to gaming – whether they want to cut back on their playing time, have a healthier relationship with gaming, or become a professional. Becoming a professional gamer is not a simple task, but there are steps that individuals can take to reach their goals. Obsessively spending every waking hour of the day gaming is not an effective way to become a professional gamer.

Why Use Gamewell?

Gamewell’s Ed-Tech Platform can be used by parents, clinicians, teachers, university professors, lawyers and HR. In fact, Gamewell can be used by anyone who may come into contact with a gamer who struggles with poor gaming habits. Gamewell offers certification to institutions and individuals who are looking to become accredited to handle gaming related issues professionally, but Gamewell’s approach is useful to more than just professionals. Parents can utilise Gamewell programs and frameworks to educate their children on the benefits and restrictions of video games. As one of the most progressive approaches to gaming education, Gamewell provides everyday people with the opportunity to become familiar with the scientifically backed neurological and social benefits to gaming, as well as the negative effects of maintaining an unhealthy relationship with gaming.