Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially adopted “Gaming Disorder” as a mental health diagnosis in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The official definition is, “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” It includes gaming on any platform: cell phones, tablets, computers, and consoles. The diagnosis will fall under the ICD’s section on addictive disorders.
The issues/questions surrounding gaming addiction are nothing new and remain controversial; however, adding gaming disorder as an identifiable and diagnosable problem aids treatment. If there are people that fit this description and want to seek help, it will be much easier for them to get insurance reimbursement for therapy if this is a recognized mental health diagnosis. That can be a huge relief to people and/or parents who are seeking help. For example, there are some young kids and teens that will stay awake all night playing Fortnite. In turn, their grades and mood suffer. This could warrant attention since video gaming is causing problems in other important areas of their life.
Diagnosing any mental health condition is not an exact science. There are no blood tests or x-rays to be done. So the question for people and parents is this: When does an interest/hobby cross the threshold to become a gaming disorder? It’s not clear but the key symptoms are this: