Gaming Disorder to be Recognized as a Mental Health Disorder

Gaming Disorder, also known as Internet Gaming Disorder and Video Gaming Disorder, will be officially considered a mental health disorder as of next year, according to a report from New Scientist.

The outlet spoke with the World Health Organization who said that the next edition of the International Classification of Diseases, which hasn’t been updated since 1990, will include Gaming Disorder as a serious mental illness that doctors should monitor. The new issue of the ICD will be published in January of 2018.

Just like alcoholism or any other type of addiction, the World Health Organization said that it recognizes that only a small minority of gamers will suffer from this addiction, but that it does indeed exist. The exact wording of what constitutes Gaming Disorder has yet to be finalized, but the New Scientist learned that a set of criteria will be included to help clinicians determine whether or not a patient is addicted. One piece of the criteria says that someone might have Gaming Disorder if they prioritize gaming “to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests.”

Many studies have looked into gaming addiction and its causes. One study from the University of Oxford (via The Independent) showed that about two to three percent of the 19,000 men and women that they studied admitted to some combination of the behaviors that point towards addiction. “To our knowledge, these are the first findings from a large-scale project to produce robust evidence on the potential new problem of ‘internet gaming disorder,'” said Dr. Andrew Przybylski, who was at the helm of the Oxford study. “Contrary to what was predicted, the study did not find a clear link between potential addiction and negative effects on health; however, more research grounded in open and robust scientific practices is needed to learn if games are truly as addictive as many fear.”