The World Health Organization recently announced that video game addiction would be classified as a qualified mental health disorder in the organization’s International Classification of Diseases. International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a big reference manual by the World Health Organization that is used by pathologists and doctors for recognizing and diagnosing a variety of medical conditions.
The news is bound to reignite the debate of whether video games are helpful or harmful while citing their social and emotional effects. According to the International Classification of Diseases, addiction to video game is ‘a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior, which may be online or offline, manifested by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.’
This by no means is applicable to the occasional gaming night that you might have with your friends. Shekhar Saxena, the WHO’s expert on substance abuse and mental health, said that some of the extreme cases of gaming addiction that were studied in the research included players who were playing for twenty hours a day passing up on food and sleep among a list of other social activities.
Saxena further stressed that many gamers have a healthy relationship with video games. In fact, it is only a minority of gamers that can be classified as video game addicts as per the International Classification of Diseases. Saxena further added that problems emerge following excessing gaming that continues for a year or more, thus rendering the diagnosis of video game addiction disorder appropriate.
The Video Games Coalition is an industry group that speaks on behalf of video game manufacturers. It has said that video games are ‘enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide’ and evidence also points to the ‘educational, therapeutic, and recreational value’ of video games – a factor that was not given enough weight while WHO made its determination.
What do you think of this update to the International Classification of Diseases update?