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Game addiction may become an official mental-health diagnosis in 2018

29 December 2017
Game addiction may become an official mental-health diagnosis in 2018

The World Health Organisation (WHO) may classify "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition in its 2018 manual on diseases, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Its symptoms include the inability to control when and how to play video games.

A tentative draft of the ICD defines gaming disorder as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior, which may be online or offline".

For one, if a person gives priority to gaming over other life interests, it could be considered a gaming disorder.

Mental health professionals are working to help people control their video game habit. In the Beta Draft for its next International Classification of Diseases (via CNN), the organization listed "Gaming Disorder" alongside its gambling counterpart and a number of other addictions.

The Independent reports that only 2 to 3 percent gamers reported five or more symptoms associated with gaming disorder, according to a 2016 University of Oxford study of 19,000 gamers in Germany, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Canada.

Adding "gaming disorder" to the list means it will be recognized by doctors and insurance companies. According to the University of Bergen, Norway study, excessive gaming is a defense mechanism to cope with an underlying psychiatric disorder.

For others, however, the lure of video games can become an issue, hindering other aspects of their life and leading to addictive behaviors similar to those with an addiction to gambling. More recently in 2010, a couple that was occupied playing a game neglected to feed their 3-month-old baby, who died of malnutrition.

Video game addiction will be classified as an official mental health condition next year.

- A lot of people would say this was a long time coming. Gamers believe that video gaming is akin to hobbies or professions.

"The new ICD-11 entry on gaming disorder "includes only a clinical description and not prevention and treatment options" said Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO".

The psychology of games The psychological community has been debating whether gaming is addictive enough to be described as a disorder for some time.