As the most popular Twitch streamer on the platform, regularly attracting over 100,000 concurrent viewers, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is arguably the most high profile gamer in the world.
A former professional Halo player, Ninja turned his attention to streaming on Twitch full time recently, and has since become a household name – at least in household’s of gamers.
So, when the World Health Organization officially recognized gaming addiction as a ‘disorder’, Ninja had a few things to say about it.
Briefly, the WHO says that if, over a 12 month period, an individual plays video games to the extent that it significantly impairs “personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning”, it is a mental illness.
When asked about the news on his Twitch stream by a viewer, Ninja did not hold back on making his feelings clear about it.
“So when you watch ten hours, or twenty hours of TV a week, is that a mental illness? Is that a disorder? I guess the world’s a little crazy.
If you were to watch two to three hours of news a day, every day for the entire week, that’s more than ten hours. That’s more than ten hours a week – do you have a ‘watching the news mental disorder?’ Oh no, watching the news is all good.”
He goes on to say that as long as parents effectively manage how their children spend their time and are achieving in other important areas, there should be no need for the classification of a disorder.
“Everything can be addictive, you could be addicted to taking shits. The brain is so complex. Should kids be playing 50, 60 hours of video games every week? I don’t know are they getting straight A’s?
If they’re doing well in school, in every aspect of their life – they’re coming for dinner saying Hi, doing their chores, and they come home and play video games all day with their friends after, are you really going to be mad about that?
If they are failing, then it’s the parents job to limit what they’re doing, because of course at that point yeh it’s not good. That’s common sense, which 99% of parents don’t have.”
The WHO classification seems to be concerned with those gamers who are in fact ‘failing’ in other aspects of life, be it school, work, social life or personal health.
However, the escalation of this scenario to a mental disorder has angered many passionate gamers, who feel it stigmatizes individuals whose problem is not in fact video games, but who simply lack the ability to effectively balance their lives and need help with this.
The problem, many gamers would argue, is not the video games, as many past times can be addictive or consuming as Ninja alludes to, but instead should be treated as a individual’s personal issue.