World Health Organization to classify gaming addiction as mental disorder

The World Health Organization could classify 'gaming disorder' as an official condition

Excessive video gaming to be named mental health disorder

People who spend countless hours playing video games could soon be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

The disorder is characterised by "impaired control" with increasing priority given to gaming and "escalation", despite "negative consequences".

"Disorders due to addictive behaviors are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviors other than the use of dependence-producing substances", the gaming-relevant section states.

Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO, told CNN it is the "basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the worldwide standard for reporting diseases and health conditions". That apparently holds true for video games, according to the World Health Organization. The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. However, it does certainly seem as if the medical profession will be taking addiction to gaming as seriously as other forms of addictive behavior in the future - an action that may have been spurred on by the recent increase in DLC content and purchasable loot boxes which encourage players to spend real money after having already bought the game itself. For that to occur, gaming behavior should normally be evident over the course of a year, but that duration can be shortened "if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe". That is to say, a doctor can diagnose it at any point they like, should they deem the severity "significant", without the World Health Organization batting an eye.

"The WHO move reflects growing awareness about this disorder - among health professionals, parents and teachers", said Manoj Sharma, associate professor of clinical psychology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans), Bangalore. "We've also seen gaming addiction leading to sleep disturbances, poor eating, irritability and loss of productivity", he said. First, the current approaches to understanding "gaming addiction" are rooted in substance abuse research and approaches do not necessarily translate to media consumption.

The term "gaming disorder" isn't limited to simply excessive time spent playing video games in the entry.

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