'Gaming Disorder' enters WHO's latest classification-of-diseases draft

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The ICD defines gaming disorder as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online, or offline.

It adds the behaviour is severe enough to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

Another new chapter on sexual health brings together conditions that were previously categorised in other ways (e.g. gender incongruence was listed under mental health conditions) or described differently. That could stem from time sunk into gaming, or neglecting other priorities, or from risky behaviors associated with it (like, say, forgetting to eat or sleep).

Playing video games too often is now characterized as a mental health disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.

For a diagnosis, the behavior pattern should last at least 12 months, though the World Health Organization is proposing exceptions in severe cases. Gaming continues unabated or even escalates.

To be clear, the medical community isn't exactly rushing in to take everyone's video games away. "For the vast majority it is a recreational activity".

This latest version, known as ICD-11, is completely electronic for the first time, in an effort to make it more accessible to doctors and other health workers around the world.

And yet, that hasn't spotted the larger game industry from coming forward to criticize the diagnosis.

For instance, some people working on stroke have always been pushing for it to be moved from circulatory diseases, where it has been for 6 decades, into neurological disease, where it now sits in ICD-11. The statement is highly critical, citing contested and inconclusive data and concerns of misdiagnosis.

Dr Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video gaming disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimise the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.

Some 2.5 billion people - one-in-three worldwide - play some form of free-to-play screen game, especially on cell phones, but the disorder only affects a "small minority", said Saxena.

The entire medical world isn't in support of the classification.

UKIE already has their own FAQ up about the issue, which explains the controversy and the genuine disagreement in academic circles as to whether gaming addiction counts as a separate disorder.

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