Excessive gaming is now a mental health disorder

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WHO's ICD was last updated in 1990 and its new edition, ICD-11, listed gaming disorder as a serious health condition that needs to be monitored.

The disorder can consist of an impaired control over the frequency, intensity and duration of gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the point that it takes precedence over other daily activities and commitments, and a continuation or escalation of gaming despite it's negative consequences on other parts of life. The number of people this might affect would be a very small percentage of people who play games.

The WHO released the latest edition of its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), the 11th such revision of the popular diagnostic manual.

However, the formal decision to recognise the overuse of games as a mental health condition has been depicted as an overreaction. "These include gaming disorder, which evidence shows is enough of a health problem that it requires tracking through the ICD".

However, video gaming addiction appears to be treated in a similar way as how the World Health Organization described a gambling addiction. And in South Korea, at least two children have starved to death, likely because their caretaking parents were busy playing video games.

Those of us who game, however, have probably indulged ourselves on a binge of The Sims (or whatever your guilty pleasure is).

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Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work.

"Videogames across all kinds of genres, devices and platforms are enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide, with the educational, therapeutic, and recreational value of games being well-founded and widely recognized".

Playing video games too often is now characterized as a mental health disorder, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

And perhaps the most positive immediate fallout from this will come from folks who needed a wake up call about the seriousness of not just gaming, but other forms of online addiction.

Researchers across the world use it as reference for data, whereas doctors and other medical practitioners use it to diagnose disease and other conditions. The WHO was discussing adding gaming addition back in December 2017, when it introduced it in a draft version of ICD-11. The World Health Organization says classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will "serve a public health goal for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue". Those seeking treatment for compulsive or addictive technology use, including for gaming, have had trouble finding treatment that is covered by insurance. The evidence for its inclusion remains highly contested and inconclusive. The question is whether the games industry can provide enough current research to counter the gaming disorder definition before the manual is approved sometime next year.

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