Gaming- an addiction?

Since my last post was about gaming, it compels me to write about gaming being an addiction in this post.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in its latest draft revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) has defined “Gaming Disoder” and included it in the same category as substance abuse.

What is ICD?

WHO uses this classification to categorise diseases and health conditions. It helps practitioners in reporting conditions better and researchers in analysis of global statistics and in further categorisation. WHO periodically revises its classification and the latest revision is ICD 11 which it will publish soon.

What is Gaming Disorder?

The WHO defines gaming disorder as it defines addiction due to any substance abuse. In WHO’s words, gaming disorder is

“a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by 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”

Every word here is important. A casual gamer is not a gaming addict. As with other addictions, gaming becomes a disorder when it starts taking precedence over every other activity in your life,routine activities included. And, even after the gamer has realised that the activity is having detrimental effects on his/her health, he/she is not able to control gaming addiction. This is the same as other common addictions like alcohol and nicotine.

Should gaming have been classified as a disorder?

Although classification as a disorder has garnered a lot of flak from the general public, I, being a doctor support this move. Too much of anything is really bad, gaming included. As in addiction to alcohol or drugs, the centres and neural pathways in the brain that get activated in pathological gaming addiction are more or less the same. This has been demonstrated by functional MRI.

Studies have demonstrated that pathological gamers have craving for the game and even exhibit withdrawal symptoms when forced away from games. This is probably true for addiction to any substance or activity.

The significance of inclusion of “Gaming disorder” in the ICD11 lies in recognising true pathological gamers and treating them. There have been reports of gamers dying at their desks, gamers being found in a pool of their own excreta….

If this is not addiction, what is?

Further reading:

WHO website on gaming disorder

Study on brain activity and gaming

Reports of gamer deaths:

https://edition-m.cnn.com/2015/01/19/world/taiwan-gamer-death/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/02/23/va-man-died-during-marathon-attempt-to-play-video-game-for-24-hours/?utm_term=.a57a7ba66861

Diablo Series

I am a gaming aficionado too. I have always been fascinated by the use of technology to create fantasy worlds, scenes, situations. Video games do not just create but actually let you experience and live those fantastical worlds.

The RPG genre is one of my favourites. I have been playing the Diablo series since Diablo 1. So, it has been more than 20 years since I got hooked to this wonderful, dark, lore filled gem of a series. I remember eagerly looking forward to the release of the third major instalment of this series: Diablo 3 and had written about it too on my personal blog. I had surmised whether I will ever play the 3rd instalment and all that. After playing it, I must say I am looking forward to the next instalment.

The Diablo series is basically hack and slash with character development games. You kill loads of monsters, finds lots of loot, equip the loot on your character to make him/her stronger and also level up with all the experience gained by killing monsters. Levelling up in Diablo 2 involves increasing attributes amnd distributing skill points. In Diablo 3, the attributes increase automatically and you get access to various skills. You can’t really level up the skill like in Diablo 2, instead you gain access to rune modifiers of the skill.

The third instalment came and went with much fanfare and quite a bit of disappointment. The expansion, Reaper of Souls

Necromancer Diablo 3 reaper of souls
Necro character in Diablo 3

completely turned around the game with lots of improvements. The most recent addition, Rise of the Necromancer, brought back one of the most loved characters from the Diablo 2 game. I personally was a little disappointed to find that I couldn’t like really reanimate corpses to build a non time limited army of reanimates like in Diablo 2.

I have played Diablo 3 on PC as well as PS3. It is a pity that the latest patches are not available on the old PS3; feels so much more fun playing on a console.

Though not as frequently as before, I do load up one of the games (Diablo 2 lod or Diablo 3) once in a while. I keep finding myself gravitating towards Diablo 2 mostly. The various mods available make it much more fun than Diablo 3, although the graphics look long outdated. Some of my favourite mods are Eastern Sun, Median XL and Path of Diablo.

Diablo 2 lod path of diablo
Path of Diablo mod

There is talk that there could be Diablo 4 too. Especially after a vacancy was rumoured to be posted by Blizzard for a Diablo dungeon styler.

Redmi Y2

Xiaomi recently launched the Redmi Y2 in India and it calls it Redmi S2 outside India.

Features

It is a 5.99 inch(18:9 aspect ratio) phone with a HD display (720p). It has an octacore Snapdragon 625 processor with Adreno 506 GPU. The OS is MIUI 9.5 based on Android 8.1. The primary camera is a dual(12+5 MP) camera and the selfie shooter is a 16 MP camera.

The phone comes in the 32/3 GB and 64/4 GB memory/RAM variants. It accepts 2 SIMS and a memory card too.

Pros

1. I personally love the MIUI skin with all its inherent theming options.

2. 18:9 display should feel immersive and is the latest trend.

3. AI based dual rear camera.

4. The front camera is an AI based 16 MP shooter and the phone is promoted as a selfie centred phone. It has LED selfie light, bokeh effect and is capable of taking HDR photos.

5. The SIM tray has space for 2 nano SIMS and a micro SD card, up to 128 GB. The presence of a dedicated memory card slot is a great advantage for many; most higher end phones don’t have this feature.

6. Face and fingerprint unlock features

7. The battery life seems to be good with an endurance rating of 92h (3080 mAh battery).

8. Misc- Has FM radio, IR port and 3.5 mm jack!

Cons

The display is not full HD. For the PPI conscious people, it is 269. This is a little low compared to most of the recent releases.

The chipset used is 2 years old. The more recent SD 636 processor would have been better, though it would have raised costs.

Pricing

It is priced at INR 12999 for the higher variant and 9999 for the lower one.

The phone is available at Amazon India and the MI website.

VAR at FIFA 2018 World Cup

FIFA World Cup 2018

We have already seen the use of controversial technology VAR (Video Assistant Referee) influence the outcome of at least one match yesterday(the France vs Australia match, to be specific).

What exactly is it?

A video assistant referee and his 3 assistants form the VAR team. They are located in a video operation room in Moscow with access to videos from multiple sources and angles. They can replay footage in slo-mo if needed. When required, the VAR’s assistance is sought and decisions are made, even overturned if required.

The VAR comes into play in 4 situations:

  1. Goals and events leading upto the goal
  2. Penalties and events leading upto a penalty
  3. Red card decisions
  4. Mistaken identity

I am an avid cricket fan; the VAR in football sounds and looks a lot like referring a decision to the 3rd umpire in cricket. In fact, the signal for referring/reviewing with VAR given by the referee looks exactly like the signal given by a cricket umpire while referring a decision to the TV umpire in Cricket.

However, there is an important difference. In Cricket, the on field umpire has to seek help of the TV umpire for him to intervene. In Football, if the VAR team notices that an intervention is required, the on field referee is informed of the same and decisions may be changed. Therefore, it is a two way process in Football. For more info, you may refer the official FIFA website.

The use of technology to improve the fairness of a game is welcome. However, the game will miss that human touch which made the games intriguing.