Are games making you sick? World Health Organization to recognize “gaming disorder”

Laurent Giret

Video games, like many other forms of entertainment can be a really addictive thing. To acknowledge this state of fact, the World Health Organisation has recognized a new type of mental health condition, calling it “gaming disorder” (via Digital Trends). Here is how the organisation describes the ailment in the beta draft of the upcoming 11th update of International Classification of Diseases, to be released next year:

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) 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.

According to the description, gaming disorder can be an episodic or continuous pathology, and it can result in “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” The WHO says that a diagnosis can be assigned after a period of 12 months, except when “all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

If gaming disorder is effectively recognized as an health condition next year, it means that doctors will need to be trained to diagnose and treat it. Interestingly, the beta draft also recognises “gambling disorder,” something that the video games press and even Belgian and Dutch authorities started to associate with loot boxes and microtransactions in video games this year. Do you think addiction to video games is real and should be officially recognized? Sound off in the comments below.