Thorhauge, Anne Mette, Andreas Gregersen, and Jessica Enevold. (Eds.). What's the Problem in Problem Gaming? Nordic Research Perspectives, Goteborg, Sweden: Nordicom, 2018. Pp. 123. ISBN: 978-91-87957-88-8. 20,00 [euro]. Free download available from https://www.nordicom.gu.se/en/publikationer/ whats-problem-problem-gaming
In the various lockdowns and gathering restrictions resulting from COVID-19, many parents and teachers worry about the excessive amount of time children spend on screens. They are concerned about the negative effects of screen time, such as the decline of cognitive ability, weight gain due to inactivity, loss of social interaction, and increase in depression and anxiety. However, the research presented in What's the Problem in Problem Gaming? suggests that understanding these impacts is more complicated.
The book explores the role of video game playing in young people's lives. The American Psychological Association and the World Health Organization (WHO) have identified the problem of video game addiction. However, the authors in this book complicate the concept of video game addiction, proposing that rather than liken excessive video game playing to substance abuse, people should see this behavior through the lens of "problem gaming." The problem with gaming, then, is situated at the intersections of power, social roles, and social institutions. The book asks, for whom is problem gaming a problem? Drawing from research conducted in Norway, the eight chapters in the book come from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including media studies, game studies, and youth studies.
Once the main argument is established in Chapter 1, each of the subsequent chapters looks at different ways to approach problem gaming in different contexts. In Chapter 2, Rune Kristian and Lundedal Nielsen explore "The Genealogy of Video Game Addiction." Video game addition was first identified in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association. In 2019, the WHO also ascribed "gaming disorder" to those who lack control over their gaming habits, have a lack of interest in activities other than gaming, and even though there are negative consequences, they continue to game. Since the book is specific to the Scandinavian context, an overview of Norwegian studies on video game addiction is included. The authors are critical of the addiction framework, seeing addiction as a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain. Addiction can be both positive and negative. People can be addicted to running, for example. Addiction can also be used to describe behaviors such as gambling. Given this broad scope, the authors question the relevance of the concept. The final critique is that there are few clinical studies of video game addiction. Instead, video game addiction is...