ibusinesslines.com September 21, 2018

World Health Organization suggests "gaming disorder" as official medical condition

19 June 2018, 03:44 | Melissa Porter

A gamer plays video games with a Xbox console during the 2017 Paris Games Week exhibition

Playing video games compulsively now qualifies as new mental health problem

"After consulting with experts across the world, and reviewing evidence in an exhaustive manner, we decided that this condition should be added", Shekhar Saxena, director of the WHO's department of mental health and substance abuse, told AFP. The U.S. video game industry - through its Entertainment Software Association lobbying group - threw its support behind several academics who opposed the WHO's efforts when it confirmed a year ago that they would include "gaming disorder" as a condition.

A major venture for the World Health Organization is creating and maintaining the International Classification of Diseases, which is a grading system that assists in identifying a wide range of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, and much more.

Characterised by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

Separately, the WHO listed "hazardous gaming", which is when a pattern of gaming "appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to this individual or others around this individual".

Finally, this behavior needs to lead to significant distress and impairment in somebody's personal life, family dynamics, social relationships or occupational functioning.

"Video gaming is like a non-financial kind of gambling from a psychological point of view", said Griffiths, a distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University.

Last December, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed that "Gaming Disorder" be classified as an addictive behavior in a beta draft of ICD-11, the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases, which is used by practitioners in multiple countries to diagnose various illnesses and conditions.

"And let me emphasize that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that", he adds.

Still, there is a lot we don't yet understand about gaming disorder. Some propose that it's merely a coping mechanism for people struggling with anxiety or depression.

Still, not all medical officials believe gaming disorder is a stand alone condition. We just don't know yet.

The WHO hopes its inclusion in the ICD will stimulate debate as well as further research and worldwide collaboration.

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