How much gaming is too much gaming?
According to The World Health Organization (WHO), gaming is now a mental health disorder! Computing can become problematic when it models other addictive behaviors. This includes everything from gaming, internet usage, or social media interactions and is diagnosed when that behavior begins to interfere with someone’s life and enters into a realm of psychological disorder.
That’s why for 2018 the WHO has decided to give video games their own designation and will include it in their 2018 diagnostic manual of International Classification of Diseases. Apparently, gaming is so addictive to some that it joins the behavioral aspects of gambling disorder which is the only other disorder categorized under addictive behaviors.
While the final language is not set, the current draft includes many familiar characteristics of addiction:
Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.
Whether or not this will provide any sort of clinical benefits is yet to be seen, but it does finally acknowledge it as a prominent psychological role that computing and gaming have in people’s lives. Oddly this is something people have said for years, but it’s not until now that the WHO has officially recognized it.