Playing video games an excessive amount is going to become a recognized mental disorder, with the World Health Organization (WHO) adding it to a beta draft update of its International Classification of Diseases.
There has been much debate over the years regarding whether or not video game addiction is a real thing, with this new classification acknowledging that obsessive gaming is a medically treatable disorder. The update describes “gaming disorder” as follows:
“Gaming disorder is characterized by 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.”
WHO recognizing compulsive behavior when it comes to video games as a disorder doesn’t mean that all video games are addictive. Instead, the new classification determines that some players prioritize gaming over other facets of their lives, therefore leading to a negative impact upon their lives.
This is similar to the health classifications surrounding gambling, alcohol and caffeine intake, with each of these activities described by WHO as having negative consequences if not done in moderation. Its inclusion in the ICD means that medical professionals will be able to diagnose patients with gaming disorder, and then treat it accordingly. Video game addiction is a relatively new phenomenon, though “gaming rehab” centers have popped up around the world, particularly in Eastern countries where excessive gaming has become a considerable issue.
The new ICD has yet to be finalized, though the draft of its 11th update is available to view online.