November 13, 2018

Compulsive video-game playing a new mental health problem

22 June 2018, 05:31 | Rodolfo Wallace

Representational image

Representational image

"After consulting with experts across the world, and reviewing evidence in an exhaustive manner, we decided that this condition should be added", Shekhar Saxena, director of the WHO's department of mental health and substance abuse, told AFP. There is no objective evidence to define and diagnose overuse and that may result in misdiagnosis.

Poznyak said the condition leads to "significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning".

Joan Harvey explained that the designation of a "gaming disorder" might panic parents in the wrong way.

The ICD is also used by health insurers whose reimbursements depend on ICD classifications.

"And let me emphasise that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that", he noted.

It means you're unlikely to claim any disability benefits because you game a lot, because you're all a balanced lot who play games in a healthy way.

Obviously games companies have a vested interest in not equating video games with drink, drugs, and gambling but they are right in that there is both a lack of consensus and detailed study into the issue.

"The new catalogue, which still needs to be approved by United Nations member countries, so-called "gender incongruence" is now listed under "conditions related to sexual health", instead of "mental, behavioural and neurodevelopmental disorders".

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The ICD, which has been updated in the past 10 years, covers 55,000 injuries, diseases and causes of death.

Despite what is - admittedly - a pretty even-handed handling of the situation, gaming organisations from around the world have expressed concern at the its inclusion.

It added that such behavioural pattern would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

The AP notes that The American Psychiatric Association still does not label Gaming Disorder as a mental health condition.

The games industry raked in $108-billion dollars (R1.4-trillion) worldwide in 2017, more than double movie box-office receipts, according to Superdata, which tracks the games and interactive media sector.

This classification is controversial, as many psychologists think the data available is premature and that this behavior could likely be a coping mechanism for anxiety or depression.

"My nephew gets stuck on it, and he does it all night long", one person said about their relative's video game habits.

"If we understand what genres each person gravitates towards, it informs who they are as a person and why they choose that", Bean said.

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