Yesterday the World Health Organization officially recognized gaming disorder as a disease. Similar to other addictions like alcohol and drugs, gaming disorder is now an ICD-11 diagnosis that your doctor can submit to your insurance.
But what exactly does that mean?
Gaming disorder is defined in the draft 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as 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.
For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.
In layman terms it means that gaming must be your life and take precedence over everything else around it.
This isn't a diagnosis that you can give yourself on Tumblr to get sympathy points. You'll need a psychologist to diagnose but I highly doubt anyone will get this diagnosis easily.
That's because this diagnosis doesn’t apply to the vast majority of people who play video games. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who fits that diagnosis. Sure you spend 40 hours a week playing video games, but you'll never be the Korean who forgot to feed their child because they were too busy playing video games addicted. Hopefully.
Just like drinking beer and getting drunk every so often doesn’t make you an alcoholic.
To be diagnosed with Gaming Disorder you would need to exhibit destruction of your life due to video games. Getting kicked out of school because you don’t show up to class ever would be a pretty significant sign that you might have a Gaming Disorder.
A lot of psychologists still disagree with the WHO’s recognition of Gaming Disorder and believe that being addicted to games might be a symptom of a deeper issue like anxiety or depression.
I’m personally in that camp of thought. There are a lot of people who use video games as an escape from their daily lives. Maybe video games give them that sense of control they don’t have in real life or maybe video games are the only thing in their life that brings them joy.
Video games aren’t necessarily addictive but they can feed addictive personalities. The fear is that parents and out of touch congressmen use “Gaming Disorder” as an excuse to restrict video games to adults who can manage their time appropriately and use gaming as a hobby.