Video games addicts will soon be treated by doctors, who offer solutions to mental illness following the addition of disease classifications by the World Health Organisation, WHO.
The WHO recently added both online and offline gaming disorder to its latest draft of the International Classification of Diseases manual, called ICD-11.
WHO’s ICD-11 is used widely for classifying all diseases.
Gaming Disorder/ Gaming addiction
In the recently released ICD manual, “Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video gaming’), which may be online or offline.”
As with any medical disorder, the person affected by gaming disorder must be seriously impaired.
“The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning,” WHO said.
Gaming disorder symptoms as listed by WHO - which also echo symptoms for other addictive or compulsive disorders - include lack of control over gaming; giving gaming precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.
Reactions to gaming disorder as a mental illness
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which defines mental illness mentions gaming disorder in its latest edition but says more research is needed before listing it as a separate disorder.
“The ‘gamers’ play compulsively, to the exclusion of other interests, and their persistent and recurrent online activity results in clinically significant impairment or distress. People with this condition endanger their academic or job functioning because of the amount of time they spend playing,” the manual says.
Meanwhile, Jen MacLean, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, has attacked the move by WHO.
"IGDA supports responsible gaming, and we believe the WHO has done a tremendous disservice to our players, creators, and all forms of media by creating a 'gaming disorder' as a disease," MacLean said.