ORE: Ontological Reconstruction of Gaming Disorder
Ontological Reconstruction of Gaming Disorder (ORE) is an interdisciplinary 5-year research project, funded by the European Research Council (2022–2027). The project aims at building a multicultural understanding of how people play videogames in different intensive ways—and specifically, how to explain and identify those ways, which relate to some players seeking clinical treatment for their gaming.
Effectively since 2022, the World Health Organization’s diagnostic manual ICD-11 has officially included Gaming Disorder as one of its new mental disorders “due to addictive behaviours” (6C5). Although popular media commonly use terms like “social media addiction”, Gaming Disorder, with gambling, is currently the only diagnosable technology use behaviour. At the same time, the diagnostic status of Gaming Disorder remains controversial: many experts believe that there was never enough evidence to include Gaming Disorder in the diagnostic manual.
Despite the ICD-11 diagnosis now being in force, it remains unknown what Gaming Disorder is. We do know that some people seek clinical help related to gaming, but we do not know what it is like. What are gaming problems, where do they come from, and how do diverse cultural contexts affect the perceptions of what such problems are? To provide support for people who need help, and to not overpathologize those to whom gaming is a healthy and meaningful part of life, ORE aims to construct an understanding of intensive gaming that helps clinicians, players, and policymakers to distinguish real problems from media panics.
In order to understand people, their lives, and thoughts, we believe it is necessary to talk to people and let people talk to us. As key methods, ORE applies in-depth interviews and diaries in a longitudinal multisite setting. We follow the lives of people who have sought clinical treatment for their gaming, adolescents who are gaming intensively without problems, and esports players to whom gaming is meaningful as an intensive sport. Our participants come mainly from Finland, Slovakia, and Korea, but we also invite collaborators from other parts of the world. In addition, we carry out structural analyses of gaming to better understand how different design components may affect players' experiences and wellbeing.