The Mental Health of Gamers, a Reality that Surpasses Video Games

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

The new Netflix series “Web of Make Believe: Death, Lies and the Internet” [1]  opened our eyes to a problem that perhaps many of us had not seen, the consequences of bad actions on networks, such as the ‘SWATing’ and other actions that are done online but lead to a distorted reality with the disinformation of the chaotic web.

However, many of the testimonies that we get to watch in the production are shown because their protagonist have mental health problems, why? To start with, we must be clear on what is a gamer. According to Cambridge Dictionary, it is “someone who likes playing computer games”. [2] Newzoo reports there were 2.69 billion gamers in the world by the end of 2020. Two of every five people across the world is a gamer, leading the global market in the number of gamers and revenue is China, followed closely by the United States [3] .

And, despite the fact that video games were first created more than 30 years ago, it was not until 15 years ago that people start to pay attention to the mental health of those who play them (gamers), because it is evident that the game’s effects on their mental health is directly related to their behavior in real life [4] . Some of the most common negative effects of video games in mental health include: Poor sleep hygiene, physical health atrophy, exhaustion, dehydration, obesity and heart problems, aggression, lack of motivation, depression, suicidal thoughts, social anxiety, poor emotional regulation and interpersonal conflict, among others [5] .

In the study “Internet Gaming Disorder in Adolescents: Personality, Psychopathology and Evaluation of a Psychological Intervention Combined with Parent Psychoeducation” published in Frontiers in Psychology [6] , we can see how depression is one of the most common comorbities that gamers have. This study found up to 89% of problem gamers are also diagnosed with depression in addition to video game addiction.

In addition to depression, gaming cause anxiety? Yes. Social anxiety is another common comorbid to video game addiction, so video games might be responsible for it. Video games can allow you to escape from the real world to forget about the problems you have in real life, for example a long day in school but, if this happens too often and if you start neglecting those problems in real life because video games offer you an easier escape, then it can become a problem [7] . Therefore, websites like HealthyPlace give tips for dealing with gaming and anxiety, such as [8] :

  • Reality breaks: Pause and interact with someone in your real life.
  • Become Grounded: Take a mindful walk outside or through your house.
  • Therapy: Seeing a therapist can help both social anxiety and gaming addiction.

It is important to remember some examples of the extent to which the mental effects on gamers can reach when they are not treated with care. Menhaz Zaman was a young gamer that murdered his mother, his grandmother, his sister and his father in a nine-hour span. Then, he confessed to the murders online, telling friends on a gaming server he had just “slaughtered his entire family [9] ”.

Another was the case in Pakistan of Zain Ali, a teenager that suffered “psychological issues” because of playing an online game (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds). He shot his mother, his two sisters and his older brother [10] . In India for example, Suraj alias Sarnam Verma murdered his father Mithilesh, his mother Siya and his sister on 2018. He was addicted to online games and had rented room in Mehrauli where he spent time with his friends after bunking classes [11] .

All these catastrophes could have been prevented in time if their relatives or friends had been paid attention to the mental health of these gamers. That is why today we invite you to identify some warning signs, such as thinking about gaming all or a lot of time, feeling bad when you can’t play, needing to spend more and more time playing to feel good, not being able to quit or even play less, not wanting to do other things that you used to like, playing despite these problems, lying to people close to you about how much time you spend playing, etc [12] .

Therefore, if you are a gamer and like to interact in the digital world, we invite you to play a game for your mental health so that you can have a better quality of life, you can win the life of wellness. Please do the following video game addiction test to know about what stage of video game addiction you are in: do not allow your situation to end the real game.














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