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AMA to Vote on Formal Classification of Video Game Addiction

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Is addiction to virtual worlds a reality? The American Medical Association will have to decide this month.

A 10-page document produced by the AMA's Council on Science and Public Health suggests that video game addiction leads to "social dysfunction/disruption," and recommends that the disorder be formally classified in the upcoming edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The AMA's House of Delegates will vote on the proposal later this month, with the final say going to the American Psychiatric Association.

The document presents an even-handed examination of the subject, acknowledging that many studies claiming to provide a link between violent video games and aggressive behaviors are inconclusive. The council also believes that video games can prove to be a healthy experience in many circumstances. "As with most other forms of media, video games do have a potentially positive role, especially in the health care and health education sectors," reads the report.

However, the thrust of the paper focuses on the potential for harmful addiction to video games, with MMORPGs unsurprisingly receiving particular attention. "The DSM-IV disorder most similar to the pattern of behaviors observed with overuse of video games is pathological gambling," the document continues. "Although video game overuse can be associated with any type of video game, it is most commonly seen among MMORPG players, who represent approximately 9% of gamers... Current theory is that these individuals achieve more control of their social relationships and more success in social relationships in the virtual reality realm than in real relationships."

The paper was presented by the chair of the council, Mohamed K. Khan. Dr. Khan spoke with the Wall Street Journal on the medical importance of DSM classification. "Once you begin to classify the patients, you can do better research into the disease. You can tailor therapies... It can affect reimbursement because insurers will recognize it as a disorder," he said.

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    June 14, 2007 11:12 AM

    This is a very good thing. I've personally seen at least 3-4 lives being really damage or destroyed because of mmorpgs, and i've read countless horror stories on the net. People are way too casual about this..

    Those games are really addictive. I would had never thought that one day games could become dangerous like that.

    I hope those people get help :(

    • reply
      June 14, 2007 12:05 PM

      the people are the problem, not the game

      • reply
        June 14, 2007 12:42 PM

        agreed...

        Same with alcohol and tobacco IMO...

        Anyone can do anything they want, as long as they really focus on themselves, and not their addictions.

        • reply
          June 14, 2007 12:46 PM

          Not at all. There are those with a pre-disposition to addiction to certain substances and processes. Just because you'd find it easy to break away from alcohol/drugs/gambling doesn't mean other people do. That's why it's classified like this by medical experts. For some people this shit is very, very hard to fight.

          • reply
            June 14, 2007 1:39 PM

            so we should taboo mmo's becuase some guy can't manage his own life?

            also i hate how people say WoW addicts instead of MMO addicts. MMO addiction was around 8 years before wow.

            • reply
              June 14, 2007 2:45 PM

              Ya, but WoW made it mainstream. It's not making it taboo if people are losing jobs and marriages due to t.

              • reply
                June 14, 2007 3:36 PM

                that seem very dumb to say one game is to blame when there is 15 MMO's on the market. it only widespred with wow becuase it have 8 million people, and also to list that warcraft was most likely the first MMO for many people. or corse you are going to get people who are going to get crasy with it.

                warcraft is my third MMO, i been playing MMO since DAOC, and i'm addicted to video games as in all i own every mainstream system minus PSP PS3 and the 360 which i really want. then agein i play in the shacker guild and the elite gaming pricks don't last long.

                all i am saying is that warcraft shouldn't get all the blame for video game addiction.