Video Game Addiction is Real Disease

Gaming Addiction Is Now An Official Mental Health Disorder

Gaming Addiction Is Now An Official Mental Health Disorder

In a new draft of the International Classification of Diseases to be released on Monday, addiction to video games will officially be recognised as a mental health condition.

Dr Lubna Alansari, WHO's Assistant Director-General for Health Metrics and Measurement, says: "ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease". The behavior has to be serious enough that it gets in the way of family, social, education or occupational parts of one's life and normally emerges over a period of a year, though it can come sooner.

The WHO defines Gaming Disorder as:"Impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences". Although that may sound intense, so was her video game addiction.

WHO has said gaming disorder is a serious health condition that requires monitoring. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent.

It also includes new chapters, one on traditional medicine: although millions of people use traditional medicine worldwide, it has never been classified in this system. "For the vast majority it is a recreational activity". ICD-11, which has been over a decade in the making, provides significant improvements on previous versions.

And yet, that hasn't spotted the larger game industry from coming forward to criticize the diagnosis. The statement is highly critical, citing contested and inconclusive data and concerns of misdiagnosis.

"Given the gravity of diagnostic classification and its wider social impact, we urge our colleagues at the World Health Organization to err on the side of caution for now and postpone the formalisation", they wrote in a study reviewing academic literature.

"A decision on inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 is based on reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of technical consultations undertaken by World Health Organization in the process of ICD-11 development", writes the WHO. The manual's last revision occurred way back in 1992, and it desperately needs fixes to benefit today's medical professionals.

Additionally, WHO lists both online and offline gaming as a disorder, but the former can be an enriching experience as users can forge friendships and even romantic relationships through multiplayer games.

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