Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Video gaming is described as 'a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour'

The latest list of diseases published by the World Health Organization (WHO) includes addiction to video games.

The ICD is used internationally to diagnose and codify incidents of diseases and disorders, including - though not limited to - mental health conditions.

"Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital or video-gaming activities", a briefing on the disorder said. The problem comes when gaming takes priority over school, socialization or work. There is no doubt that there are people who are likely to end up addicted to playing games, although this is more likely a symptom of some other issue.

According to the organization, the disorder is characterized by an impaired ability to control one's gaming habits, to the extent that it begins to negatively impact their daily activities and supersedes their other interests.

Dr. Levounis said he suspects the American Psychiatric Assocation will elevate gaming disorder to full-recognition status in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 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 past year that they would include "gaming disorder" as a condition.

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Housing almost 55,000 medical issues, the ICD-11 is used for clinical care, research, and is rarely given major revisions, so it is a legitimately big deal that gaming addiction has been added to its pages. Among the concerns of skeptics is the possibility that, by explicitly codifying gaming addiction, it could end up heaping further stigma on video games in general.

WHO officials added the hope that adding this condition to a sexual health chapter of the ICD codes would "help increase access to care for health interventions" and "destigmatize the condition". The WHO was discussing adding gaming addition back in December 2017, when it introduced it in a draft version of ICD-11.

Others welcomed the move, saying it was critical to identify video game addicts quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who do not seek help themselves.

"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.

It is scheduled to be presented to WHO member states at their annual World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption in January 2022, the WHO said. For example, say that your child has to do their homework first and/or get out and play for an hour before they're allowed to game. The new ICD-11 also reflects progress in medicine and advances in scientific understanding.

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