William Huang M.D. is the Addiction Psychiatry Fellow and attending psychiatrist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Huang is also a level 52 paladin in World of Warcraft in his spare time… and occasionally at work! He has always enjoyed playing videogames on different platforms as far as he can remember. He has received multiple awards and scholarships in the field of psychiatry and addiction psychiatry from organizations such as American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, California Society of Addiction Medicine, and American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry. His integral involvement in American Psychiatric Association’s Annual Meeting workshop on “Online Videogames: Psychopathological or Psychotherapeutic?” will also continue in this year’s workshop on “Virtual Reality and other forms of Cybertherapy, an Evidence Based Review” to discuss the usage of videogames and virtual reality technologies in mental health field. Dr. Huang is also the recipient of the APA/SAMHSA Substance Abuse Minority Fellowship. The fellowship is to study and serve as a liaison between underserved Asian American population to psychiatric and substance abuse treatment.
Biological Mechanisms of Online Gaming Addiction
There is an upswing in the lay press’ representation of videogame playing as potentially addictive. Most often, the use of the term “addictive” raises the negative image of alcoholics and drug addicts. The stories range from the common (e.g. parents reporting that their son/daughter spends too much time playing videogames) versus the rare (e.g. life threatening consequences of unrelenting game play). Application of scientific principles to this issue may prove to be the most prudent response to the public raising of these concerns. For example, while there is no evidence of any positive benefit from alcoholism and drug addiction, videogames and videogame formats are being applied across a wide range of educational and clinical therapeutic activities. The goal of this presentation is to provide a scientifically-based, balanced assessment of the scientific understanding of addiction as applied to gaming. The presentation will open with an interactive discussion of the meaning of the term “addictive” for gamers as a way of exploring both the positive and negative connotations of this term both within the gaming community and society in general. The evidence-based research on the biological mechanisms of addiction will be systematically reviewed including the latest data from imaging studies and neurotransmitter research. The presenters will then propose some possible implications of this research for online gaming studies as a means of leading into a collaborative discussion with the audience on how a deeper understanding of the biological mechanisms of addiction might influence the gaming community from developers to academics.