The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently classified gaming addiction as a mental disorder. The latest list of diseases published by the WHO on June 18, 2018, includes addiction to video games.
According to WHO, “Gaming disorder is characterised by impaired control over gaming, increasing the priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”
Gaming addiction defined in ICD
Gaming disorder has been defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) of the WHO. Researchers across the world use ICD as a reference for data. In some countries, it is also used by health insurers to claim reimbursements based on ICD coding.
It is also used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorise conditions. Its 11th edition has 55,000 injuries, diseases and causes of death.
According to WHO, when a disorder is included in ICD, countries plan their public health strategies accordingly. “The inclusion of a disorder in ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when planning public health strategies and monitoring trends of disorders,” says the WHO.
As per BBC, some countries had already classified it as a public health issue. Impaired control over gaming (frequency, intensity, duration), increased priority is given to gaming and continuation or escalation of gaming despite adverse consequences, are early symptoms of this disorder.
This move has been welcomed by the doctors as this will lead to more specialised services. Now, the issue of digital addiction will be taken seriously.
Steps taken by other countries
The government of South Korea has introduced a law banning access for children under 16 from online games between midnight and 06:00.
In Japan, players are alerted if they spend more than a specific amount of time playing games on a monthly basis.
Chinese internet giant Tencent has put a limit on the time that children can play its most popular games.
What do the gamers have to say?
Gamers from many countries have taken to social media and Reddit to point out that although addiction to anything is harmful, a passion for gaming will now be confused with addiction. They also gave references of many reports, surveys and studies which show the positive impact of playing video games on people. Playing video games can be a way to battle depression and making new friends, a respite from stress, and even a way to improve reflexes and coordination.