WHO says Gaming Addiction is a Behavioral Disorder

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a new disorder listed under “Disorders due to substance or addictive behaviours” in the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD – 11): Gaming Disorder.

Description

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:

1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);

2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and

3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

Source

There is something that caught my attention in particular about all of this. There are two sub-categories: gaming disorder, predominantly online and gaming disorder, predominantly offline.

Description

Gaming disorder, predominantly offline is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’) that is not primarily conducted over the internet and is manifested by:

  1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);

  2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and

  3. continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

    Source

The pattern of gaming behavior may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

If you read the two of them, they are the same, minus the notation of “conducted over the internet” to the offline description. I am not 100% sure of the reason for this, but I would speculate that the creators of the ICD – 11 believe that there could be crucial differences shown in how each disorder presents itself along with how each is treated. In the meantime, since they cannot find a clear distinction except for use of online games vs offline games.

Looking into this matter a little further I looked at the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5. They also have a disorder listed but they have it named Internet Gaming Disorder. I tried to look around for a page that was Offline Gaming Disorder, but they do not appear to have one.

The APA does do a better job of laying out the criteria that have to be met before one can be diagnosed with Internet Gaming Disorder, the criteria are as follows:

  1. Preoccupation with gaming

  2. Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away or not possible (sadness, anxiety, irritability)

  3. Tolerance, the need to spend more time gaming to satisfy the urge

  4. Inability to reduce playing, unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming

  5. Giving up other activities, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities due to gaming

  6. Continuing to game despite problems

  7. Deceiving family members or others about the amount of time spent on gaming

  8. The use of gaming to relieve negative moods, such as guilt or hopelessness

  9. Risk, having jeopardized or lost a job or relationship due to gaming

An individual would need to experience 5 or more of these symptoms within a year to be diagnosed.

Source

The following is my Opinion:

I am going to start with that I am not a Psychiatrist, but I am trying to look at this from the perspective of a concerned parent who may be looking for information on the topic.

There is a reference on the A.P.A’s website that the ICD-11 will include Gaming Disorder on the page for Internet Gaming Disorder. The problem with the ICD-11’s page is that it does not include any kind of reference to further research being required. There should be reference to requiring more research for this kind of issue, as right now treatments seem to be in the realm of Psychologists rather then Psychiatrists, as shown in this Paper under Psychological Treatment for Internet Gaming Disorder.

I am preferential to the A.P.A’s definition of Internet Gaming Disorder, it has nine criteria that help to define it and five of them have to be present within twelve months for a diagnosis. I will admit that a few of them appear to be rather broad so it could be argued the net that is cast with those is a little too broad.

An example is #1, “Preoccupation with Gaming.” What do they mean by preoccupied? I think some would argue; I was preoccupied with gaming if I thought about it while I was at work. However, if it does not get in the way and you are still able to be productive, I do not believe there is a problem with gaming there. I think a better way of putting it would be, [Preoccupation with gaming to the point where it impacts one’s ability to be productive when focusing on a particular task.]

But to undermine what I had previously argued, I point to the dictionary definition of preoccupied does state, according to Merriam-Webster:

2a : lost in thought also : absorbed in some preoccupation

b : already occupied

Although I would counter argue that there can be varying levels of preoccupation, I am not going to do that here.

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