Gaming addiction is a mental disorder

Henrietta Brewer
June 21, 2018

The formal designation of "gaming disorder" within WHO's International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) was welcomed by some groups as helpful to sufferers.

Smartphone, social media, and even gaming de-addiction facilities have always been set-up at institutions throughout the country, with many parents bringing in their children to be treated for addiction to gadgets.

The WHO also classifies something it calls "hazardous gaming," which they say "refers to a pattern of gaming, either online or offline that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual".

If the condition leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, familial, social, educational or occupational functioning.

It may be continuous or episodic and recurrent, but the aspects of the disorder are usually evident for at least 12 months in order to necessitate a diagnosis.


This latest version, ICD-11, is completely electronic for the first time, in an effort to make it more accessible to doctors and other health workers around the world.

ICD - core classification of diseases, which is used to determine trends and statistics of prevalence of various diseases and disorders worldwide.

Member states are expected to vote on the document at the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May 2019.

Priority given to gaming that overrides other interests and daily activities.

The classification is aimed at alerting health professionals and systems to the existence of this condition and ensuring that people suffering from these conditions can get appropriate help.


The inclusion of "gaming disorder" in WHO's revised catalogue of diseases met with resistance, both from industry and some experts.

According to studies, gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital-gaming or video-gaming activities. All this could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour. These games are commonly played on electronic and video devices. Working with them and understanding their games, he said, "you can actually see overt qualities of their gaming style and the way they actually interact with the world around them".

"I think in the modern era, and how kids interact with their friends, it's no different than going out and playing out with them", Rairdin said. Working full-time, he keeps active by playing sport, but he said it was "totally understandable" that gaming can become addictive.

"Gaming disorder" is officially listed alongside gambling and other abnormalities caused by addictive behaviors.


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