Medicine

Gaming addiction classified as disorder by WHO

Gaming addiction classified as disorder by WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to officially classify gaming addiction as a mental health "disorder" for the first time, including game-related issues within its newest International Compendium of Diseases (ICD).

ICD is the foundation for the identification of health trends and statistics globally, and the global standard for reporting diseases and health conditions.

"Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time", the Entertainment Software Association - which represents the U.S. game industry - said in a statement.

Now in draft format, the 2018 ICD states that gaming addiction is a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes precedence over other life interests. That doesn't mean giving up video games completely but rather teaching children limits so that they can keep things in balance.

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"Just like avid sports fans and consumers of all forms of engaging entertainment, gamers are passionate and dedicated with their time". They get "so far out of balance, they need external help to get back into balance."Ferguson believes that it would have been better if the World Health Organization had taken more time and reached out to skeptical scholars, gamers themselves, some of the companies that make games - all the invested stakeholders - before formulating their description of gaming disorder.And he questions whether it is really a disorder, or symptomatic of another mental disorder."After 20 or 30 years of this, the evidence base is not really good to suggest that this is a unique disorder - the evidence base really to my mind suggests that this is, if anything, symptomatic of an underlying problem that people might be having", said Ferguson". We strongly encourage the World Health Organization to reverse direction on its proposed action'. The former is filed under a section of factors that may influence a person's health status, and notes the potential "neglect of other activities and priorities".

The last version of the ICD was completed in 1992, with the new guide due to be published in 2018.

It's likely that there still hasn't been enough research conducted into games being actually addictive (and under the current diagnosis the World Health Organization has proposed it looks like I was definitely suffering gaming disorder for about three weeks after I broke up with my boyfriend at uni), but this combined with the wider public uproar over loot crates a year ago could prompt some increased scrutiny.

In the past, studies have warned that abnormal gaming behaviour could result in mental health issues. "I think anything done in excess is risky, and that can be anything from playing games to taking drugs they are looking at extreme cases", she said.


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