If anyone is looking for a sign of the modern times we live in, perhaps the fact that addiction to video games is to be included in the World Health Organisation’s 11th International Classification of Diseases, or ICD, is fairly representative. The ICD lists signs, symptoms and codes for various conditions, allowing them to be more simply diagnosed and tracked by doctors and researchers. The World Health Organisation, or WHO, published the 10th ICD in 1992, so the updated 2018 version is expected to look quite different.
When the 5th edition of the widely-used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, was published in 2013 the reference textbook described Internet Gaming Disorder as a “condition for further study”. The disorder was not officially recognised at that time but now,5 years later, it will be.
The 2018 version of the ICD is to list the addiction as “Gaming Disorder”, and the hope is that those who are afflicted will now be able to get the help that they need. Problem gaming and gambling behaviours have many overlapping areas, and gamblers are protected with regulations and links to GambleAware and other organisations on every licensed website. Now, it is hoped, video games will be provided with similar services.
Understanding Gaming Disorder
The WHO’s ICD draft document describes gaming Disorder as a pattern of recurrent or persistent gaming behaviour that sees gaming take precedence over other interests and over almost everything else in a gamer’s life. In making a diagnosis, the WHO intends to recommend that abnormal gaming behaviour be observed for at least 12 months before a Gaming Disorder label is assigned, with the caution that the timeframe may be shortened in the case of very severe symptoms.
Symptoms of Gaming Disorder include:
Players giving gaming increased priority
Players losing their ability to control gaming frequency, intensity and duration, or experiencing impairment in that control
Gamers continuing to play, or even escalating the amount that they play, despite experiencing negative consequences
The similarities with other types of addiction and the symptoms listed for Gaming Disorders are clear, and the euphoria that that gamer feels at completing a challenge seems to be very similar to that of a gambler who lands a big win at an online casino. In both cases, activities that are enjoyable if they can be moderated take control of players’ lives.