The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially revealed that they will be including “gaming disorder” in the latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD). This is the first time that over-playing video games has been designated as a disorder in the ICD.
While many people play video games, it is when the activity becomes an obsession that it becomes a health concern. WHO classifies the disorder as an issue with control and prioritization.
“[Gaming] can take priority over other interests and daily activities, despite some negative consequences. For an official diagnosis of ‘gaming disorder,’ video game playing must have an effect on work, personal or family life for 12 months,” reports ABC News.
The 130,000 limousines in operation today cannot hold a candle to the number of people transporting themselves in the world of video games; a study by the Entertainment Software Company (ESA) showed that nearly 60% of American citizens play video games each day.
That’s over 150 million people across the country. This number dwarfs outlandish statistics: nearly 35 million people in the U.S. suffer from TMJ disorder. This is practically three times that amount.
But some gamers have turned their hobby into their career. Full-time streamers are able to make a living streaming their gameplay online thanks to platforms like YouTube.
“This is a chance for me to connect with people who have the same passions as I do,” says video game streamer, Ben Bowman. He is just one of the many people that earn their livelihoods by playing video games full time.
According to health officials, video game addiction is a little different. Some say it could stem from depression or vice versa, but it is unclear if one directly causes the other. However, it is apparent that the two are linked according to some health care professionals.
While gamers grit their teeth at the news, others are fighting back against WHO’s new claim.
Public health researcher, Michelle Colder Carras of John Hopkins University, believes that gaming disorders stem from larger issues, according to The Verge.
“…she argues that these people usually can get psychiatric treatment under a more general diagnosis like depression or anxiety,” claims The Verge.
There is fear that this new disorder label could lead to the stigmatization of gamers and other issues within the gaming world.
Luckily, disheartened gamers can stop clenching — there is the other very real possibility that this diagnosis can help the mental health community.
Critic, Andrew Przybylski, a psychologist for the Oxford Internet Institute recognizes the benefits along with the challenges.
“I’m genuinely worried about the mechanics of games taking advantage of vulnerable people but there’s a fundamental asymmetry between the kinds of data I can collect and the data that video game companies — like the ones that create Fortnite or League of Legends — collect every day,” he notes.
In the meantime, therapists and other mental health professionals are set to treat this disorder by using methods to those that treat alcoholism and anxiety. They aim to help individuals consume video games in a healthy way.