Says WHO | Gaming addiction tagged as mental health condition

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it now considers “Gaming Addiction” as a mental health condition.

The entry for Gaming Addiction will be added to the United Nations (UN) agency’s 11th revision of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). Gaming Addiction is classified under “disorders due to addictive behaviors.”

Photo by Beata Dudová (Pexels)

WHO’s full description of the condition reads:

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘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. The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behavior and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.”

A Reuters report cites the WHO’s expert on mental health and substance abuse, Dr. Shekhar Saxena, who said that “some of the worst cases seen in global research were of gamers playing for up to 20 hours a day, forgoing sleep, meals, work, or school and other daily activities.”

In this light, there’s not much to worry about if the gamer still does “normal things.”

In an article for The New York Times, Tiffany Hsu revealed: “The video game industry has pushed back against the WHO classification, which is expected to be formally adopted next year, calling it ‘deeply flawed‘ while pointing to the ‘educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games.'”

The New York Times article, though, cited a doctor who said he had a patient who was so hooked on the Candy Crush Saga. What’s significant about this is that it highlights the fact that any game can be addictive. People have the tendency to assume that only hardcore games are addictive.

ICD-11 is scheduled to be presented to WHO member states — among them the Philippines — at the annual World Health Assembly in May 2019. It will be officially adopted by January 2022.

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