WHO: gaming addiction officially a disorder

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The World Health Organisation has classified gaming addiction as an official mental health condition for the first time.

Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) includes a new condition called “gaming disorder”. Among gaming disorder’s official symptoms, according to the WHO, are: “Impaired control over gaming (frequency, intensity, duration); increased priority given to gaming; and continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.”

The BBC spoke to Dr Richard Graham, lead technology addiction specialist at London’s Nightingale Hospital, who welcomed the move: “It puts it on the map as something to take seriously.”  But he conceded that: “”It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers.” 

Are you worried that you might suffer from gaming disorder? Dr Graham says that his main criterion for diagnosing the condition is if: “The addiction is taking up neurological real-estate, dominating thinking and preoccupation.” 

At least now, with the official recognition of gaming disorder, you have useful ammunition for confronting anyone you know, who you think might be spending an unhealthily obsessive amount of time playing games. However, by its very nature, gaming disorder is never likely to be an affliction that will persuade your boss to give you time off work.

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Steve Boxer
Steve Boxer has been writing about videogames since the early 1990s. His first console was an Atari VCS, and he misspent most of his youth in the 1980s in the arcades. As well as for Green Man Gaming, he can be found writing for The Guardian, Empire, TechRadar and Pocket-Lint. He’s currently having trouble deciding whether his favourite console is his Xbox One X or his Switch, and plays a wide range of games, but especially RPGs (he loves a good JRPG) action-adventure titles, shooters of all descriptions and driving games. Follow him here.