‘Gaming Disorder’ Is Officially a Mental Health Disorder, WHO Announces
WHO announced a new mental health disorder on Monday that occurs due to compulsive video games playing. Simply called “gaming disorder,” the condition will soon be in WHO’s International Classification of Diseases. The classification is based on research and the need for treatment around the world.
Just by having an obsession with Fortnite and an high score in FIFA does not imply someone has a gaming disorder. Many more conditions need to be satisfied. According to Dr. Vladimir Poznyak of WHO, there are three major criteria to be satisfied for diagnosis of gaming disorder:
- In the person’s life gaming takes precedence over other activities, “to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery,” he said.
- The person continues playing video games in spite of negative consequences—i.e. “impaired control of these behaviours,” he said.
- Compulsive gaming causes significant stress on personal, family, social, educational, or occupational functioning, affecting relationships and health, he said.
A WHO representative mentioned that about 2 to 3 percent of video game players satisfy the criteria for diagnosis with gaming disorder. But Dr. Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, who has studied video games for 30 years, estimates that gaming disorder affects less than 1 percent of gamers, and that many would have other mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder, or autism.
If video games are interfering with the expected roles and responsibilities of the person—whether it be studies, socialization, work — then they need to go and seek help.
One thing is clear: More research needs to be done to give health care professionals guidelines for treating gaming disorder, and to make ensure the criteria are accurate and reliable.