After a fairly successful presentation at the Johns Hopkins Division of Health Sciences Informatics Grand Rounds on Friday, I took a day off for the first time in a long time and am now back to trying to figure out which next step (or steps) I’ll take moving forward. Current projects include:
- Preparing for a panel discussion in Geneva on the ICD-11 proposed gaming disorder diagnosis
- Preparing for the June 27 VA conference Operation HEAL: Suicide prevention through video games and social media
- Finishing the review of systematic reviews of problematic gaming
- Finishing the paper on social interactions within video games
- Trying not to let my house fall to pieces from being too busy
- Figuring out if it would be worth it to livestream “doing science” on Twitch
Trying to bring a rigorous evidence-development approach to problematic gaming/benefits of gaming while still bringing well-deserved attention to the amazing programs of grassroots gaming communities like Stack Up and Anxiety Gaming is tricky. I’ve had some pushback from other academics about making sure presentations don’t make claims that aren’t evidence-based, but these same people acknowledge the importance of on-the-ground knowledge and programs.
We talk about the importance of partnering with industry in eHealth and mHealth (and of course my focus, video games for health/VGTx), but from a population science perspective, if Stack Up’s PsiStream can reach even 1% of Twitch’s 15 million unique daily users with its information about mental health, that’s 150,000 people who have had an hour of interactive psychoeducation and now might be more willing to get help if they need it or understand the mental health needs of others.
Having a population health science perspective means that we focus our efforts on what will provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people. If a community organization develops a promising practice, it’s up to public health professionals to figure out the best way to work with them to use those practices to benefit populations. Likewise, we also need to make sure that approaches that might cause greater harm than good at a population level are considered carefully. Does a diagnosis of gaming disorder “map well [enough] to the state of nature” in a way that has a net benefit to the 1-2 billion people who play video games worldwide? Or is it possible that a different approach would achieve the same goal of ensuring that people who have problems related to excessive behaviors (gaming, social media use, pornography, exercise, etc) get the help they need without causing unintended consequences to engaged gamers, children, or others who play video games extensively?