Excessive gaming is now a mental health disorder

Video gaming-123RF

Video gaming-123RF- File

The World Health Organization says classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will "serve a public health objective for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue".

Yesterday, the World Health Organization announced that it had finalized its 11th International Classification of Diseases, and much like the draft did in December of previous year, it includes the addition of gaming to its section of addictive disorders.

Interestingly, the revision also says that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a new mental health condition.

There are three characteristics of the gaming disorder, argues Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the researcher who proposed the new diagnosis, according to CNN.

In recent times, a number of games are free to download, which undoubtedly contributes to the gaming culture. The typical gamer played for more than two hours a day in 2016, for example, while the average American over age 15 reported spending nearly three hours watching TV every day.

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The ICD is an annual publication released by the WHO which is used internationally as a 'standard diagnostic tool for health management and clinical purposes'. A group of over 30 social scientists and mental health researchers plan to co-sign an article in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Behavior Addiction arguing against the inclusion, too, Gamasutra pointed out. The obsessive pattern should be evident through a period of 12 months during which the individual's personal, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning is severely affected because of the activity.

From playing "Fortnite" in their own homes for hours, to wandering city streets collecting Pokemon on their phones - many people are obsessed with video games.

Clinicians have also debated the validity of establishing a gaming disorder, as it shares many characteristics with other addictive disorders.

There's another related condition that's new to ICD-11: Hazardous gaming.

Due to this, the NHS, which is the Health Service in the United Kingdom, will be treating people who have this condition. Those experts, who published an article in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, said that there has not been enough research done to establish it as its own condition, and that the definition of gaming disorder is not consistent.

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