World Health Organization considers 'Gaming Disorder' a unique mental health condition

Image for representation

Image for representation

Poznyak said the condition leads to "significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning". Dr Sameer Malhotra, director- mental health and behavioural sciences at Max Healthcare says increasing screen time is leading to lack of human interaction, low emotional connection between children and adults because each one hooked on to the virtual worlds. The increased risk may be from the frequency of gaming, from the amount of time spent on these activities, from the neglect of other activities and priorities, from risky behaviours associated with gaming or its context, from the adverse consequences of gaming, or from the combination of these.

The WHO's latest reference bible of recognised and diagnosable diseases describes addiction to digital and video gaming as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour" that becomes so extensive that it "takes precedence over other life interests".

Symptomatic behaviour must continue for at least a year before it is considered dangerously unhealthy, according to the new classification. "Very large numbers of people play games on- and off-line", the Department of Health & Social Care told Eurogamer.

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health - such as unsafe workflows in hospitals - can be identified and reduced, the statement said. A diagnosis would have to include evidence of this type of behavior lasting for more than 12 months, the organization said.

WHO has said gaming disorder is a serious health condition that requires monitoring
WHO has said gaming disorder is a serious health condition that requires monitoring

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

Jen MacLean, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, said in a blog post in January that the classification poses threats to game developers and it is "so broad as to cover nearly every person who's ever played "just one more turn" of an awesome game, or who prioritizes games as their first choice of hobby or entertainment". There is no objective evidence to define and diagnose this disorder and the research supporting inclusion is highly contested and inconclusive. 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 a year ago that they would include "gaming disorder" as a condition.

Still, there is a lot we don't yet understand about gaming disorder.

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