The Beta Draft of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases has been posted online for public viewing and it is causing a stir in the gaming community.
This new draft includes something the WHO calls “gaming disorder.” Classified under “disorders due to addictive behaviors,” this new classification could have gamers and parents looking more critically at their habits and the habits of their children.
In the definition, “gaming disorder” is marked by three particular behaviors, listed as follows: “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.”
In order to be diagnosed “the behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning,” and it must be evident for at least a period of 12 months, unless the symptoms are particularly exceptional.
Video game addiction has begun to pop up in psychology circles in recent years. in 2013 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classified “internet gaming disorder” as a condition for further study. As far back as 2009, another study found that 8% of young people ages 8 to 18 exhibited some “pathological patterns of play.”
Gamers shouldn’t feel too discouraged though. Other research has found that video games can also have a positive impact on your mental health. One study found that children can improve their learning, health and social skills through video games. Even violent shooters, which have long been derided by parents, can help increase spatial navigation, reasoning, memory, and perception.
More research is likely to come on this topic as health care professionals strive to learn more about how technology affects us. You can read the classification and the full draft of the International Classification of Diseases online.