World Health Organization moves closer to recognizing 'gaming disorder'

The first draft of the World Health Organization's upcoming International Compendium of Diseases revision now lists a description for "gaming disorder" alongside gambling and substance-related addictive disorders. "Gaming, in general for me, it's something you have fun, you know, play all sorts of games like Pokémon". For nearly 30 years people's lifestyles have changed and that includes the growth of gaming in most people's lives.

The entry says gaming disorder may manifest as impaired control over gaming frequency, intensity and duration, increasing priority given to gaming over other life interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.

In 2015, a 17-year-old Russian boy was rushed to hospital and died after falling into a coma while playing video games nearly continuously for 22 days, only stopping to sleep and eat.

The world at large seems to be paying attention to video games this year.

Games beware: playing too many video games could officially be classified as a mental health issue.

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Compulsive video gaming is a modern-day psychological disorder which the World Health Organization describes as a "persistent or recurrent" behaviour pattern of "sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning".

This means that health care workers and doctors will be able to diagnose someone with the condition.

The revised version of the manual is slated to appear in 2018 and is expected to classify addiction to video games as a separate condition called "gaming disorder". Second, some research has indicated that "video game addiction" is not a stable construct and clinical impairment might be low.

The video game industry brings in close to 100 billion a year and there are no signs of it slowing down.

  • Marjorie Miles