Published: Tue, June 19, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

'Gaming Disorder' classified as a mental health health disorder

Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds.

Addiction gaming is a real condition, the World Health Organization has decided, though not everybody agrees with the conclusion.

You might recall our previous report in late 2017 about the World Health Organization adding gaming addiction in the draft for the revised International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The statement confirmed the fears of some parents but led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatizing too many young video players. "The intention is to reduce barriers to care", says Geoffrey Reed, a psychologist who is coordinating the mental health and behavior disorders section in the new edition of the I.C.D.

In a joint statement issued by a number of games industry bodies including the Entertainment Software Association and the European Games Developer Federation, it said: "In view of the publication by the WHO of the so-called ICD-11 list, organisations representing video game publishers and developers across the world would like to express their concern: "Video games across all kinds of genres, devices and platforms are enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide, with the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games being well-founded and widely recognised".

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We can not publish anything from under 16s without parents' permission. She was not connected to WHO's decision.

Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work.

Director of WHO's Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Shekhar Saxena, describes some of the warning signs of addictive Gaming behavior.

This latest version, ICD-11, is completely electronic for the first time, in an effort to make it more accessible to doctors and other health workers around the world.

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The group noted that much of the scientific literature about compulsive gamers is based on evidence from young men in Asia. It's their mode of escapism, they don't want to read a book, they don't want to watch TV, they don't want to go the movies - they want to play video games. "Disorders due to addictive behaviors include gambling disorder and gaming disorder, which may involve both online and offline behaviour".

That said, the handling of the classification has received some criticism.

The United Nations health agency defines gaming disorder as a pattern of behavior where a person loses control over how much they play digital games, to the point where they prioritize gaming above other activities.

WHO's Saxena, however, estimated that two to three percent of gamers might be affected.

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'You have these short, obsessive bursts and yes, people are playing a lot, but it's not an addiction, ' he said.

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