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Playing online games can be fun and therapeutic but it can come to a point where it can be an addiction and no longer beneficial. Online gaming addiction is categorised as the inability to live without the game that it negatively affects daily life activities, and interrupts work for adults, or studies for students [1][2].

Online gaming itself can be considered a form of play with various reasons to engage in from time-to-time. With its novelty and freedom of art through missions, side quests, rewards, customizable avatars and playing different characters, it is no wonder that online gaming can be a form of entertainment.

Due to technological advancements and digital creations, online gaming platforms have now broadened their concepts to digital art forms and creative explorations. This pushes viewers and online gamers to view online gaming platforms as forms of art. Online gaming addiction treatment and intervention usually focuses on bringing the online world to the real world, hence it is appropriate to include art therapy as a form of treatment intervention. From pre-contemplating on receiving online gaming addiction treatment to withdrawal, and even aftercare of the treatment plan, art therapy may be able to help with online gaming addiction.

Art psychotherapy is a form of therapy that focuses on the art-making process and expressions of experiences and creativity through a triangular relationship between the client, art/ art process, and the art therapist [3]. You may be wondering how art therapy can help with online gaming addiction treatment. There are a few similarities to online gaming and art therapy, and here are some ways art therapy can be of support to you with your online gaming addiction treatment.

Art therapy offers an alternative space for artistic and creative activities.

Virtually, online gamers are allowed to express themselves through personalised avatars, world creation, and team recruitments. Being creatures of innovations, having access to such creative decisions provides online gamers with a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment. Especially when creativity and imagination is an innate nature and quality of being human.

Allowing such artistic and creative expressions to flourish in a physical space where guided insights and reflections are paired within the creative processes with an art therapist, will aid in future decision-making, solving life problems, and developing new ways to deal with current or future life concerns. An art therapist will be able to provide a safe and non-judgmental environment where learning to understand and express yourself in a creatively healthy manner is paramount to the online gaming addiction treatment process [4].

In addition, online games are usually bound to the concept that the game company or series offers. Whereas in art therapy, the freedom of creating your own world and style artistically means that you are able to create crossover games or your own game as you wish, depending on your needs and preferences to express yourself.

Identifying qualities, values, and strengths offered online within the real world.

Due to the nature of art therapy, working through your creative processes and artwork with an art therapist will allow you insights into the addiction – what motivates you to keep playing online games, what may trigger your online gaming addictive tendencies and behaviours, and identifying what is provided online that you do not receive in the real world [5].

Afterall, online game characters are usually a reflection of the side of gamers that may be hard to be expressed in the real world such as body image, definition of beauty and physical aesthetics. With the insight and reflections through your art-making and processes, you will be able to work through the concerns and issues by bringing those reflections into the real world, and intervene with reasons as to why you prefer being online than living in reality.

What is desired in online games can be found in the process of art therapy.

As mentioned in the point above, online gaming addiction stems from a need and immense desire to live virtually than in reality due to various reasons. It has been observed that online gamers desire the attention, warmth, praise, and recognition of their achievements in which the online gaming can provide [6]. At times, difficult life experiences and traumatic events may have happened or are happening which results in the need to escape reality through virtual means [5].

In art therapy sessions, the attention, warmth, and praise can be achieved through the art materials provided, freedom of creativity, and encouragement to express themselves just as how they would online. Furthermore, with an art therapist present in session, clients will be able to also work on difficult life experiences that they may have been escaping from, develop self-awareness, build confidence, and improve communication and relationships with the people around them. This is possible due to the narration and meaning that online gaming addiction clients are allowed to express through the art created and art-making processes [7].

Having your voice heard and facing life challenges is important in online gaming addiction treatment. At Promises Healthcare, we have a team of addiction therapists and an ongoing Visions Gamers Support Group every Thursday evenings: https://visionsbypromises.com.sg/treatment-options/gaming-support/

We hope that you will be able to find the right treatment that supports you with your online gaming addiction.

*Visions assist clients in Singapore to enable them to improve their lives; and our website provides the images, names, languages, qualifications, and experience of specialists who can help.

References;

  1. Marston, H.R. & Kowert, R. (2020). What role can videogames play in the COVID-19 pandemic? Emerald Open Resource, 2 (34).
  2. Poels, K., van den Hoogen, W., Ijsselsteijn, W., & Kort, Y. (2012). Pleasure to play, arousal to stay: the effect of player emotions on digital game preferences and playing time. Cyberpsychological Behav Soc Netw, 15(1-6).
  3. What is art therapy? https://baat.org/art-therapy/what-is-art-therapy/
  4. Mishina, A.V., Blinova, J.L., & Belomoyeva, O.G. (2017). Multimodal art therapy for overcoming negative emotional states among adolescents. Helix Volume, 8(1), 2307-2311. Doi: 10.22819/kscg.2020.33.3.003
  5. Art therapy, 2022,UK Addiction Treatment Centres, https://www.ukat.co.uk/rehab-treatment/therapies/art-therapy/
  6. Situmorang, D.D.B. (2021). Expressive art therapies for treating online games addiction in COVID-19 outbreak: Why are they important? Ethics Med Public Health, doi: 10.1016/j.jemep.2021.100691
  7. Brown, C., & Garner, R. (2016). Serious gaming, virtual, and immersive environments in art therapy. Digital Art Therapy: Material, Methods, and Applications, ed R Garner (London, 192-205).

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