The World Health Organization on Monday officially considered “gaming disorder” as a condition in its International Classification of Diseases, warning that it is possible to be addicted to video games.
Simply playing a lot of video games does not automatically mean that someone has a problem. The hallmark of the disorder is that playing games overtakes other desires, and that it continues or escalates despite negative consequences. A diagnosis would have to include evidence of this type of behaviour lasting for more than 12 months, the organization said.
The disorder affects no more than 3 percent of gamers, according to the WHO and other experts, with some estimates as low as 1 percent. More than two billion people worldwide play video games regularly, as reported by Washington Post.
The drive of including gaming disorder in the ICD is, in part, to bring attention to the issue and raise the visibility of treatments for those seeking help for excessive video game playing, the WHO said. Those seeking treatment for compulsive or addictive technology use, including for gaming, have had trouble finding treatment that is covered by insurance.
Meanwhile, the classification is still being debated as the US video game industry – through its Entertainment Software Association lobbying group - makes reference to many academics who opposed the WHO’s efforts when it confirmed last year that they would include “gaming disorder” as a condition.
Those experts, who published an article in the Journal of Behavioural Addictions, said that not enough research has been done to establish it as its own condition, and that the definition of gaming disorder is not consistent.