Posted on: 17 November 2021

Our National Centre for Gaming Disorders clinic has been mentioned in an article after being interviewed about gaming for young athletes.

Read an extract of the interview below:

BACK IN 2019, Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones opened the National Centre for Gaming Disorders – the first NHS-funded clinic. Then, she admits, there was a leap into the unknown. As she tells us: “When I started it, I didn’t know whether we’d manage to get 50 people, which is what we were commissioned to do for one year. But it’s been over a year and a half and we’ve gone to 250 people. So there clearly is a demand. And we treat patients and also their relatives.

“What I’m finding is the majority are young boys. Although I’ve had 20- or 30-year-olds coming through, there are very, very few. So what I’d love to know is in the sporting community, if there are people who have lost control of their gaming – either losing more money than they want to spend or are spending 14 hours a day gaming and it’s impacting on their relationships, jobs or lives. Right now I have no idea.

“This is the great thing about starting a national clinic. You have assumptions but you cannot go with them, you have to observe. It’s a free clinic. It has the best evidence-based treatment I can give, so there’s no reason people shouldn’t come forward.

“Now it’s possible that no one is coming forward because they don’t exist, right? So I go back to a prevalence survey. In gambling, I have some issues with how the methodology is conducted, but there is a somewhat research based (survey) being done by the Gambling Commission. In gaming there is nothing. So we have no idea of what the prevalence of gaming disorder is in this country.

“We know globally it’s about 6%. I think that’s high for the UK but we don’t know the real percentage.” In 2021 we are in the dark about how worried we should be. But while global gamer numbers may wash over us, perhaps you saw the news out of China in August, when the country’s National Press and Publication Administration said that they’d curb gaming for under-18s to just an hour on Fridays, weekends and holidays. They even labelled gaming “spiritual opium”, adding: “No industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation.”

Dramatic stuff, perhaps. Yet Professor Bowden-Jones reiterates the need for more to come forward if they are suffering and calls for a precautionary principle towards gaming while we await government reviews here. The positive thing, she says, is that we know behavioural addictions respond well to restructuring of behaviour, shaping of behaviour and treatment in general.

Read the full article