WHO classifies 'gaming disorder' as mental health condition

Representational image

WHO has been studying the issue and now has formally classified "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition.

In the USA and in some European countries, ICD-11 and its classification of diseases is used for allocating insurance premiums and expenses. Now, the updated 11 edition of the ICD has been released, and with it comes the official definition of gaming addiction as a mental health disorder.

It manifests by impaired control over gaming, for example, such as the player being unable to control the onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, or context of the gaming session.

According to the World Health Organization, the gaming behaviour and related features have to be observed in an individual over a period of 12 months for an official diagnosis to be considered.

The World Health Organisation now classifies "gender incongruence" as "conditions related to sexual health". "Disorders due to addictive behaviors include gambling disorder and gaming disorder, which may involve both online and offline behaviour".

Psychiatrist Richard Graham, who led the launch of the UK's first technology addiction service specifically for young people at Nightingale Hospital, London, said there was an important difference between enthusiastic gameplay and the new disorder.

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"Everyone who indulges from gaming from time-to-time doesn't have this disorder; it's only a minority of people who game who will satisfy the strict criteria for gaming disorder in ICD-11".

Gaming Disorder, as recognized by the World Health Organization, should be present over a 12 month period and when an individual plays video games to the extent that it significantly impairs "personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning".

Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

The games industry raked in $108-billion dollars (R1.4-trillion) worldwide in 2017, more than double movie box-office receipts, according to Superdata, which tracks the games and interactive media sector.

ICD-11 will be presented at the World Health Assembly in May 2019 for adoption by Member States, and will come into effect on January 1, 2022. "I'm a clinician and a researcher, so I see people who play video games and believe themselves to be on the lines of addicted". At the same time, there's been a push and growing interest in things such as e-sports at universities and The Olympics - and grade schools have been looking at video games as a way to teach science, technology, engineering, and math.

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