World Health Organization Classifying Gaming Disorder

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In what initially feels like a major blow to what we do here at Pixelkin, the World Health Organization is adding “Gaming Disorder” as an official mental health condition. However, in many ways it’s an important and useful classification, though not without its flaws. As always, it’s important to go beyond the headline and learn what it all means.

The proposed gaming disorder is still in the beta draft phase, and defined as follows:

1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);

2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities;

3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

Recognizing gaming disorder as an official mental health condition comes with some important distinctions. It essentially becomes like any other disease or condition which can be used by doctors and health insurance. Treatment centers that specialize in gaming addiction could seek grant money and funding. At the very least it will generate more discussion and research into healthy and unhealthy video game habits.

The immediate flaw is that Gaming Disorder will be over-diagnosed, particularly in young people who have less responsibilities and more time to play games. CNN spoke to Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University in Florida, who added that at best 1% of individuals in the cited studies could be classified with the disorder.

The other problem is that gaming addiction could simply be a symptom of a larger mental health problem, or individual situation. “After 20 or 30 years of this, the evidence base is not really good to suggest that this is a unique disorder,” said Ferguson. “The evidence base really to my mind suggests that this is, if anything, symptomatic of an underlying problem that people might be having.”


life is strange

Square Enix Announces Life Is Strange Mental Health Campaign

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The first prequel episode to adventure series Life is Strange, Before the Storm, launches tomorrow on August 31. Square Enix is timing its arrival with a fund-raising campaign on social media called “Your Friend, Me.” The campaign celebrates the importance and strength of teenage friendship, which is the focus of the Life Is Strange episodes.

Life Is Strange fans are encouraged to post supportive video messages about friendship, as if sending that message directly to a friend who has impacted them. Shared videos should use the hashtags #LifeisStrange and #YourFriendMe. For every video done in this way, Square Enix has pledged to donate $5 (up to $25,000) to The Jed Foundation.

“We are grateful to Square Enix for helping to raise awareness for mental health and JED’s work,” said John MacPhee, CEO at JED. “We all encounter life’s challenges and support from friends can help us get through those difficult times. ‘Your Friend, Me’ is a wonderful way for people to share their story and express their genuine appreciation for a friend, all while spreading a positive message and helping to make a charitable contribution to JED.”

The Jed Foundation is a non-profit that works to prevent teenage suicide and protect and foster the mental health of teens and young adults.

The Your Friend, Me campaign kicked off at the GameStop 2017 Expo in Las Vegas on Sunday, August 27. Square Enix provided video booths where attendees could create and submit their videos.

Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is a three-episode prequel to 2015’s Life Is Strange, starring 16-year old Chloe. The first episode launches August 31 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. No release date has yet been announced for episodes two and three. The episodes are rated M for Mature.


League of Legends

League of Legends Testing Players for Narcissism

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League of Legends players started reporting a different process for when a player’s name is determined inappropriate. A player whose “summoner name” violates League’s Terms of Use must now complete a survey, play 50 matches, and then take another survey in order to choose a new name. Otherwise, they’ll simply be assigned one. This is a pretty significant change from the previous process, in which a player was assigned a temporary name until they picked out a new one.

It’s also significant because League matches can take quite some time—up to an hour—and 50 matches is a lot. More importantly, the survey seems to be directly lifted from the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), a 40-question test created by Robert Raskin and Howard Terry in 1979. The test is still used to measure narcissism.
League Narcissism Test

Some players are uncomfortable with the nature of these questions, and Riot hasn’t yet come out with a statement about the specific reason for asking them. The assumption is that this is another step in Riot’s efforts to identify and combat the toxicity in the League community.

A big part of the problem is that players don’t know how this information will be used, shared, or stored. Some of these items are not only very personal; they verge into legal and medical territory. While no player is obliged to fill out the survey (or fill it out truthfully), it raises a lot of questions.

Personally, I would be extremely uncomfortable with providing this type of information about myself—even though my answer would be “zero times” in all cases. I hope Riot clarifies what the test is for and how the information will be used, because the ethics of administering this type of test without any informed consent is dubious.

girl playing Project Evo educational games

Project Evo Wants to Be the First FDA-Approved Game

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Project Evo is aiming to be the first video game to ever be FDA-approved, NPR reports. The game is focused on therapy for cognitive disorders such as ADHD, autism, and depression. There’s a chance that it could help diagnose Alzheimer’s during clinical trials, which would cut down costs significantly—the team has partnered with Pfizer to this end.

However, while there are tons of therapeutic video games out there, developers don’t typically go for FDA approval. There are a lot of reasons why that is. Read More