The world's largest health organisation just classified video game addiction as a disorder

  • The World Health Organisation just classified gaming disorder as an addictive behaviour in its 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases.
  • Studies suggest that this only affects a small proportion of the gaming population.
  • This classification is controversial, as many psychologists think the data available is premature and that this behaviour could likely be a coping mechanism for anxiety or depression.

Addictively playing video game Fortnite could indicate something more worrisome, according to the World Health Organisation.

In the 11th revision of its International Classification of Diseases, the group included gaming disorder as an addictive behaviour disorder. Gaming disorder lies in the same parent category of addictive behaviours as gambling disorder.

Gaming disorder is characterised by the following:

  • A pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour in which the user loses sense of self-control over the situation.
  • Priority given to gaming that overrides other interests and daily activities.
  • Continuing the same damaging gaming behaviour despite negative consequences such as deterioration of personal, family, social, educational, occupational interactions and responsibilities.

Not all gamers should be concerned about developing gaming disorder. The WHO states that studies suggest the disorder impacts “only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities.”

Classifying addictive gaming as a disorder is a controversial topic. Many psychologists believe it isn’t really an addiction, but rather a coping mechanism for underlying conditions such as anxiety or depression.

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