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National Health Service Opens Clinic For Video Game Addiction

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is making history by opening the first ever clinic specifically made for treating video game addiction, according to IGN. IGN is a video game and entertainment online magazine owned by IGN Entertainment Inc., they report on all things relevant to the video gaming community. The clinic is aiming to help the 13 – 25 year old demographic and has opened in response to the rise in popularity of games such as Call Of Duty and Fortnite especially. 

Fortnite has become a widely popular game within the generation Z and millennial demographic. The opening of this clinic is no surprise, as the games owner, Epic Games Inc., has already been making headlines for a recent lawsuit against them claiming that the game is as addictive as cocaine. 

“The addiction to the game Fortnite has real consequences on the lives of players, many of whom have developed problems such that they do not eat, do not shower and no longer socialize. Moreover, rehabilitation centers specifically dedicated to addiction to Fortnite have opened to treat people for addiction” according to the lawsuit reported on by the New York Post

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Crowd of fans witness the Fortnite World Cup

The clinic is called the “Clinic For Internet and Gaming Disorder,” according to IGN, and will begin patient treatments in about a month, however, doctors can begin making evaluations and referrals now so that the clinic can be prepared for the patients they’ll be expecting. The growing need for clinics such as this one stems from the World Health Organization officially announcing video game addiction as a legitimate disease. “Gaming Disorder” is defined by the World Health Organization as the  “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.”     

The symptoms need to be present in an individual for at least 12 months for it to be considered a disorder, and the disease will be officially recognized by medical professionals worldwide starting in 2022. Those already being affected by it, however, luckily have some options. Clinics specifically designed with programs for video game addictions are popping up more internationally, the United Kingdom, Quebec, and France being a few. Addiction counseling for the internet and support groups also exist, however, clinics built with a team of professionals specifically trained to treat Gaming Disorder are new.  

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Medical professionals in England along with the NHS are calling on internet, gambling, and video game companies to help with the funding for the clinic and additional programs that will begin to appear more. They feel there’s a certain moral obligation that these companies should be held accountable for since their products are the ones affecting the customers who find themselves developing this disorder. 

“Whilst the NHS has a duty of care and is adapting to these modern challenges, it and taxpayers can’t foot the bill alone. Online gaming firms and global social media firms who make millions of pounds of profit must take more responsibility by keeping their platforms safe, and introduce safeguards to reduce the burden on the health service,” said Fiona Smith, a professional lead for children and young people at the Royal College of Nursing to IGN

So far Microsoft has been the only major company to be public with their agreeing of Fiona’s opinion and will hopefully help with some of the costs. The gaming industry is taking a lot of heat now, especially with video game addiction being classified as an actual disease. The young demographic, however, has a lot of individuals playing devils advocate, and stating that the parents need to get more involved. However, like with any addiction, as their kids get older it’s harder for parents to manage their child’s decisions 24/7, and the reality is addiction can easily develop while going unnoticed.