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WHO Officially Classifies Gaming Disorder As Official Diagnosis In ICD

The World Health Organization has released a final draft of the International Compendium of Diseases in which Gaming Disorder is diagnosable as an official mental illness.

Back in late 2017, the World Health Organization released a draft of the eleventh edition of the International Compendium of Diseases (ICD-11) which included an early definition of gaming addiction as a diagnosable mental illness. “Gaming Disorder” as it was called, created a stir among players and industry, including the ESA who pushed back and criticized the inclusion of obsessive gaming as any sort of health problem. Despite this, WHO has moved ahead with the inclusion and finalized Gaming Disorder in the final copy of ICD-11.

The ICD is an internationally recognized and utilized database containing over 55,000 diagnosable diseases and health problems. Efforts on the book are meant to be bias-free and wholly scientific as knowledge of health risks and medical science increases.

The finalized definition of Gaming Disorder is determined by an obsession in which “the behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning,” as stated in the ICD-11. It is not playing “too much,” as is often mistakenly perceived by critics of the disorder, so much as playing to a degree in which one unconsciously and uncontrollably neglects their health and wellness.

Fortnite has been a focal point of addiction in a lot of recent discussion and stories as parents, players, and pros share concern over addiction to the game.
Fortnite has been a focal point in a lot of recent discussion and stories as parents, players, and gaming pros share concern over addiction to the game.

WHO also chose to include an entry in the ICD-11 for what is called “hazardous gaming” in which patterns and lengths of gameplay can “[increase] the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual. 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 behaviors associated with gaming or its context, from the adverse consequences of gaming, or from the combination of these. The pattern of gaming often persists in spite of awareness of increased risk of harm to the individual or to others.”

The ICD-11 and its inclusion of Gaming Disorder arrives at a time when stories are emerging of addiction to games like Fortnite, resulting in players quitting for the sake of their health and/or careers, and parents showing concern of their children playing the game too much. The ESA also pushed back on this definition back in January, calling the inclusion of Gaming Disorder as a diagnosis “reckless”.

In their address of Gaming Disorder, the ESA claimed that the inclusion of the disorder “trivializes real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community.”

Certainly there are arguments for and against the inclusion of the disorder, but regardless of the debate, it would appear that Gaming Disorder will now be considered an official diagnosable classification.

Discussion
RTM -
This announcement by the WHO is, without a doubt, the biggest load of junk-science since the term "Space Invaders Elbow" was concocted in the late 1970's by medical "professionals" of that era. A recent CNN.com article discussing the matter had several quotes from industry professionals who disagreed with the WHO, stating that this is the wrong path to go down as it would guarantee that pretty much anything could therefore be categorized as a "disorder" including watching too much sports on the weekends. What gamers do varies by types of game argued another...there are different needs depending on the game involved. As we already know, fully immersing ones-self into an MMORPG or a newly released franchise title is not at all out of the ordinary...we simply WANT to master the new challenge at-hand. In many cases we waited long enough for the release and have made a personal decision to invest our personal time to an extended length accordingly. This is not a disease. This is no different than children who sacrifice literally everything, socially and even with their family's approval, to devote years of their life towards participating in the Olympics years down the line, or to cultivate an existing talent in sports, singing, playing a musical instrument. It is NO different than that. It is also no different than a working detective/police officer that immerses themselves into solving a case, forsaking family concerns in order to bring the culprits to justice and achieve justice and closure for the victims. It is NO different. Medical professionals who are issuing quotes on gaming as a "disorder" are leaping onto a bandwagon that has been slowly moving along since the late 1970's, one that always picks up a little speed every time a crime takes place involving unbalanced gamers who are among a scant minority of the millions of games worldwide which are law-abiding and guilty of nothing more than enjoying their hobby. If this "disorder" is ratified then imagine how many millions of games will be able to justify coming in late to work..."I was gaming until 5:00am...I have a disorder"...or to talk their way out of, say, a fine for not clearing the snow off their property's sidewalk thus causing pedestrians to slip as they walked on by..."Sorry, I was too busy gaming...I have a disorder, can't be held accountable". The fact is that most gamers who fall into this category tend to be over the age of 18 and are legally responsible for their own actions. Truth be told the more pressing problem is not children who game too much, but children who spend too much time staring into their hand-held device and text-messaging and exchanging Instagram pics with their friends and who are collectively avoiding studying and their homework, never mind in-person socializing, in the process....kids who can actually be in the same room with each other yet none say a single word as they are all busily text-messaging each other even though they are literally a few feet apart and within the same room. THAT is the greater problem and NOT "excessive gaming".
RTM -
Oops...it was "Space Invaders WRIST" and "Pacman ELBOW"...but both were overblown medical assessments much like qualifying excessive gaming as a "disorder" is.
JohnnyOlMan -
"This is no different than children who sacrifice literally everything, socially and even with their family's approval, to devote years of their life towards participating in the Olympics years down the line, or to cultivate an existing talent in sports, singing, playing a musical instrument. It is NO different than that. It is also no different than a working detective/police officer that immerses themselves into solving a case, forsaking family concerns in order to bring the culprits to justice and achieve justice and closure for the victims. It is NO different." That's where I'll disagree with you. It is different from both of those things, because in both of those cases you submitted, the participant actively -chooses- to engage consciously in the efforts of their activity. Even when you or others choose to marathon game for 46 hours or more to beat a record, you're choosing to do that. It's your mission and your engagement. And even in those cases you submitted, there are tendencies that are unconsciously self-destructive. We're talking about a form of obsession, not "excessive gaming" so much as "uncontrollably self-destructive obsession". The difference between consciously engaging in the activity to an extensive degree and being mentally unable to cease the activity by your own conscious volition. I'm not saying that Gaming Disorder isn't a term that can't be manipulated. People will no doubt try. And surely some parents will use it as an excuse to try to pin a problem that might not actually be there. but to claim it altogether doesn't exist or shouldn't be discussed is counter-intuitive in my opinion. It's not that I believe games are dangerous or Gaming Disorder is deserves MORE attention than something like depression or other mental health concerns. That said, a cold isn't as dangerous as pneumonia, but that doesn't mean we should completely ignore the existence of colds. Mental health is still an evolving study as we learn to understand new things about the human brain. Gaming is likewise a still relatively young interactive experience. I think naming classifying Gaming Disorder isn't the end of the story. It's just a step in working to understand obsession and gain a better understanding of behaviors. I fear an abundance of manipulated consequences as described by critics of the classification, but not at the cost of pretending this subject doesn't deserve discussion.
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