Being addicted to video games might finally be recognised by the International Classification of Diseases beginning next year, aptly named “Gaming Disorder.” The proposed diagnosis is in early stages, but would be housed under “disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviours,” and would follow the same line as gambling.
The discussion was brought up when a draft of the World Health Organization’s 2018 international classification of diseases began circulating, with Section 6D11 pertaining to “gaming disorder.” While this doesn’t immediately certify gaming excessively as a disorder, it is the beginnings of recognising that gaming can be an “addictive behaviour” that can become more important to an individual than maintaining health and wellbeing.
“Disorders due to addictive behaviors are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviors other than the use of dependence-producing substances,” reads the gaming section. “Disorders due to addictive behaviors include gambling disorder and gaming disorder, which may involve both online and offline behavior.”
While this might seem a step in the right direction, not everyone feels the same. Psychologist, Dr. Chris Ferguson, who studies the effects of excessive game-playing said to Kotaku that he has “considerable concerns about this proposed diagnosis,” such as the “many myths” surrounding “games involve dopamine and brain regions similar to substance abuse.”
“There’s a kernel of truth to that but only insofar as any pleasurable activity activates these regions. How gaming involves them is more similar to other fun activities like eating chocolate, having sex, getting a good grade, etc., not heroin or cocaine,” concludes Ferguson.
The worry isn’t without merit, as researchers are concerned that lack of validity to the research could result in a stigma that affects healthy gamers as much as those who evidently overdo gaming at the expense of their own health and wellbeing. Instead, these researchers, including Ferguson, propose that the emphasis should be placed more so on the overdoing part than its relevance to gaming.
It’s less of whether or not Gaming Disorder actually exists, and more of why it should be classified as such and what care can be put in place to help those afflicted, rather than tarnishing an overall enjoyable activity for many.
KitGuru Says: There have been plenty of “one more game” situations in which I choose to prioritise over more important things, which makes me concerned that people would wrongly classify themselves or be classified by others to be afflicted by something they aren’t. I simply make poor choices from times to time, which would detract from those that genuinely do suffer. Do you think that Gaming Disorder should exist under classification?