The World Health Organization(WHO) recently released the latest draft of its 11th International Classification Of Diseases(ICD). The last version of ICD was completed in 1992, with the new guide due to be published in 2018. Two of the most eye-catching additions to this new guide is “hazardous gaming” and “gaming disorder”.
The entry for hazardous gaming reads the following:-
Hazardous gaming refers to a pattern of gaming, either online or offline that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual.
Whereas the entry for gaming disorder reads the following. These also include the symptoms that a person having a gaming disorder may experience:-
Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘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 sections into which the entries of hazardous gaming and gaming disorder fall are about addictive behaviors. The Entertainment Software Association is against the inclusion of gaming in the classification.
The Entertainment Software Association said in a statement to Gamasutra:-
The World Health Organization knows that common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive. And, putting that official label on them recklessly trivialize real mental health issues like depression and social anxiety disorder, which deserve treatment and the full attention of the medical community.
Many countries are taking steps regarding the issue of addictive gaming. In South Korea, the government has introduced laws banning the access of children under 16 from online games from midnight and 06:00. Similarly, in Japan users are given an alert message if they spend more than a certain amount of time each month playing games and in China, internet giant Tencent has limited the hours that children can play its most popular games.
A research – looking at children aged eight to 18 – found that boys spent longer playing video games than girls.
Researcher Killian Mullan said that “People think that children are addicted to technology and in front of these screens 24/7, to the exclusion of other activities – and we now know that is not the case. Our findings show that technology is being used with and in some cases perhaps to support other activities, like homework for instance, and not pushing them out, Just like we adults do, children spread their digital tech use throughout the day while doing other things.”
Moreover, some researchers and doctors have also raised a valid point against the inclusion of the gaming disorder in ICD. They believe that this inclusion might confuse those parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers and don’t have a medical condition such as a gaming disorder.Secondly, some researchers also believe that this medical condition(gaming disorder) should not be put in the same category as substance abuse and gambling addiction.