Video Games Called Digital Heroin For Those Afflicted With WHO’s Newly Classified Gaming Disorder

gaming disorder
Are you an avid gamer? And we don't mean simply gaming a few hours a day -- we're talking about every waking hour of the day; every free moment glued to your mouse, keyboard and monitor as you consume yourself in games like Overwatch and Fortnite. If this describes your life, you could actually have a gaming disorder according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Gaming disorder” is now classified as a mental health condition, which is a controversial designation for medical professionals to say the least. It is defined by the following three characteristics according to the WHO:

  • A pattern of gaming behavior 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
  • Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences 

In a way, gaming disorder seems to align very closely to other disorders that commonly affect the populous including gambling and substance abuse (i.e. drugs, alcohol). By including gaming disorder in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), it will give countries, states, and local municipalities guidelines and strategies for helping people cope with the negative consequences of continued engagement in the activity. 

"A decision on inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 is based on reviews of available evidence and reflects a consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions that were involved in the process of technical consultations undertaken by WHO in the process of ICD-11 development," writes the WHO.

However, some are not so sure about giving gaming disorder such a prominent position among other disorders in the ICD. "It's a little bit premature to label this as a diagnosis," remarked Anthony Bean of Telos Project mental health clinic. He added that he is "a clinician and a researcher he feels that gaming is "more [of] a coping mechanism for either anxiety or depression."

What say you, HotHardware readers, that you feel that “gaming disorder” is a big enough of a threat to be considered a mental health condition?