Gaming addiction is now a mental health problem

Gaming addiction is now a mental health problem

In its new draft on the International Classification of Diseases manual released yesterday, the World Health Organization has now classified excessive compulsive gaming as a disorder.

The bulk of the changes discussed at a press conference today centered around the change that "gender incongruence" has moved from a classification of mental health to one of sexual health, and that a new gaming disorder has been added to the mental health part of the codes.

The WHO writes: "Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities".

The World Health Organization said a gaming disorder is "characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior".

The UN health agency said that classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will "serve a public health goal for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue".

The games industry raked in US$108 billion (RM432 billion) worldwide past year, more than double movie box-office receipts, said Superdata, which tracks the games and interactive media sector. "Very large numbers of people play games on- and off-line", the Department of Health & Social Care told Eurogamer.

Gaming addiction is now a mental health problem

The ICD 11 also introduced the related condition of Hazardous gaming.

If anything, this could likely lead to game addicts actually getting the help they need.

Additionally, WHO lists both online and offline gaming as a disorder, but the former can be an enriching experience as users can forge friendships and even romantic relationships through multiplayer games.

Still, not all medical officials believe gaming disorder is a stand-alone condition. The WHO was discussing adding gaming addition back in December 2017, when it introduced it in a draft version of ICD-11.

The ICD-11 isn't yet finished, though: The publication won't be endorsed as a final release until 2019, and won't be fully adopted until 2022.

Gaming also piques gamers' interest in new hobbies and careers such as history (15 percent), information technology (12 percent) and art (7 percent), while 34 percent cite improved cognition, problem-solving or social skills thanks to gaming. Of course, the disorder has been criticized from a number of corners, including health professionals who have written it off as being overly broad and subjective. Currently, gambling disorder is the only officially recognized behavioral addiction in the USA, unlike in China and South Korea, which have rolled out treatment programs for gaming disorder.

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