The Gamer Syndrome

= Overview =
The term ”’Gamer Syndrome”’, is used to describe the increasingly evident case of severe video game addiction. Video games have become increasingly popular in contemporary society, to the point where many individuals will develop excessive or even compulsive use of video games. Although Gamer Syndrome is akin to “Video Game Addiction” in most cases, it differs as a syndrome, which describes several clinical features that are evident in the patient, and not simply basic addiction.

= History =
The term was coined in 2007 by Dr. Bradley Chang, of the Medical Research Center for Game Addiction in Jinan, China. The team at Jinan decided that although there was not sufficient evidence to add the addiction to the DSM or the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, there was still enough relevant research to consider the condition a clinical syndrome. Using clinical evidence provided by Dr. Karo Kensei, the lead researcher at the International Medical Research Center or IMRC in Asuka, Japan.

== Studies ==
The IMRC found evidence that more than 27% of youth ages 12-18 in Japan were experiencing such medical problems as periodic headaches and fatigue, blurred vision, loss in appetite, and even clinical depression, all directly linked to extensive use of video games. Further research indicated that those addicted to games were beginning to undergo transformation in personality and character, often becoming easily angered and agitated when confronted by family members. The youth seemed to lack little insight into their condition, and will have the perception that what they are experiencing is normal. Many of the patients also exhibited increased patterns of obsessive compulsive behavior in relation to the gaming.

The psychological conditions are often accompanied by a host of physical complaints related to their sedentary lifestyle. These include poor nutrition, weight problems, and even cardiovascular complications. Of the 247 patients documented, 37 were forced to be hospitalized due to poor health and nutrition, of these 37, 14 patients were recommended for psychological evaluation. The official reports and documents were submitted to the Government of Japan for appraisal on January 18th, 2009.


== Condition ==
Gamer Syndrome can be identified by several key clinical features. The first and most prominent of these is the drastic change in sleep patterns and eating habits, as the addiction will cause erratic differences in personality. The second is the weakening of the physical body, and in some severe cases tissue damage and loss of hair. The third, and most difficult indicator is the psychological changes that will occur in the patient, often subtle at first, this eventually may evolve into such serious conditions as clinical depression and even schizophrenia.

Any parents or friends noting such behavior in a family member or classmate are strongly urged to contact your local clinic or physician immediately, as prolonging treatment can cause irreparable damage to the patient. It is not advised to directly confront the person in question, as they may be under immense psychological pressure, and such a confrontation, if not done with great care, could be dangerous, if not fatal to the patient. In the cased of AGS or Advanced Gamer Syndrome, direct contact may be a danger not only to the patients health, but to the instigators unaware of the present danger.

= Treatment =
Several facilities have been established to rehabilitate those suffering from Gamer Syndrome, one of which is the Smith & Jones Addiction Consultancy in Amsterdam. The facility, which originally specialized in the treatment of drug, alcohol, and gambling related addictions, has recently been expanded to treat the Gamer Syndrome.

Patients found to exhibit the Game Syndrome are put through a rigorous series of treatments that will eventually render the patient fit for a normal life. The treatment includes a slow and arduous process of weaning players off of their primary game addiction, and also preparing the patients for normal activities such a sports and schooling. In some cases, patient had to almost completely relearn their native language, as they had become saturated by video game slang and jargon.

After the treatment is completed, the rehabilitated patient will be put under strict surveillance in a normal environment, and under no circumstances are they to come in contact with digital games of any kind. This may be increasingly difficult if the patients friends are gamers, and in some cases the patient must be relocated to a foreign environment entirely.

== Known Cases ==
The first documented case of Gamer Syndrome was in London, England in 2004, where a young man by the name of Mohinder Sharma was taken into medical care from an unknown source of psychological trauma. Mohinder was documented having lost sight of reality, and seemed to “drift between this world, and an imaginary one”. He complained of having severe headaches and loss of appetite, and even became violent to his family members who tried to confront him.

Another case was a 13 year old French male by the name of Déodat Eloi. His family contacted the local psychiatric hospital after Déodat complained of lack of sleep and disturbing dreams about video games. After an evaluation and analysis of lifestyle, local physicians concluded the source of his ailments to be compulsive use of video games.

The third documented case was a young Canadian male by the name of Dustin Marshall. Dustin was taken to the local hospital in Vancouver, BC after becoming weak from malnutrition and unable to leave his bed. This was due to a 47 hour video game binge without any sleep and very little food or drink. Dustin’s parents became concerned after he did not come out of his room for almost three days, and were forced to call local paramedics when they discovered his present state.


== Prevention ==
As with any serious medical condition, early prevention is the key. Dr. Kensei and Dr. Chang, the founders of the original Gamer Syndrome research in Asia believe that this serious syndrome can be prevented with several easy steps. The first is to ensure that all video games are taken in moderation and controlled very carefully, daily intake of video game entertainment should not exceed 1-2 hours. The video gamer must ensure that there are regular nutrition and hydration breaks, as playing digital games are detrimental on the human body.

There must also be education and awareness among youth, as many do not realize the dangers that video games pose until it is too late. Some methods of awareness are information sessions for parents and teens at local school or personal education at home by parents or guardians of the person at risk.

 Until recently, Gamer Syndrome was considered by many to be of little impact in a sociological context, recent evidence however contradicts this.  A study done by the Medical Research Center for Game Addiction found that more than 40% of youth were experiencing video games, furthermore, of these 40%, roughly 9% were beginning to show negative effects outside of their homes. These 9% were losing jobs, receiving less than satisfactory grades in school, and some even resorted to crime to support their gaming habits.
One instance of this crime occurred in Vietnam, where a young 13yr old boy by the name of Dinh The Dan strangled an elderly woman for the paltry sum of 100,000 Dong, or 6.20$ USD. He later confessed that he intended to use the money for online gaming.
Another case in the United States involved Gregg J. Kleinmark, 24, who left his two children in the bathtub to drown while he was busy playing his Game Boy Advance.



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