The World Health Organization is adding an unexpected disorder to its list of mental health conditions in 2018. Next year, people who play an excessive amount of video games could find themselves diagnosed with “gaming disorder.”
WHO’s beta draft of its upcoming 11th update of International Classification of Diseases characterizes gaming disorder as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
The inclusion of gaming disorder in the ICD-11 means health care workers and doctors can now diagnose someone with the condition.
The description of the condition continues: “The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.“
Not everyone who likes to play video games has gaming disorder — plenty of people play video games without getting a diagnosis. Daphne Bavelier, a professor at the University of Geneva said, depending on the game, and how long and often you play it, video games can be a safe way of improving hand-eye coordination, enhancing problem-solving abilities, relieving stress, connecting people, and living out fantasies, Forbes reporte
Gaming becomes a problem only when it causes “impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” When you stop controlling the game and it starts controlling you — that’s when WHO’s definition of gaming disorder applies.
Video games have become increasingly popular, with more people of all ages playing a variety of games. Because of this, video game addiction has also become a problem.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published in 2013 defined Internet gaming disorder as a “condition for further study.” This doesn’t classify it as an official disorder, rather one the American Psychiatric Association says requires additional research. According to the DSM-5, the disorder is most common in male adolescents 12 to 20 years old.
Additionally, a 2009 study found about 8 percent of people from 8 to 18 years old “exhibited pathological patterns of play.” So, while people should continue to enjoy their downtime unwinding with the latest game, the medical community wants to make the public aware, too much of a good thing can be bad.
Allan Bangirana is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Spur Magazine. He is also the co-founder of the Innovware project.
He is a freelance consultant passionate about tech, programming, games and entertainment.