Before you get all bent out of shape and yell that gaming isn't a mental health condition, I'm thinking the same thing.
The World Health Organization, or WHO has stated they have included "gaming disorder" in its International Classification of Diseases. This is a widely used diagnostic manual that was last updated in 1990, with the latest version being published in 2018. It is called ICD-11.
From reports, the wording in the manual is yet to be finalized, but the draft outlines the specific criteria they are going to use to determine whether someone has a gaming disorder. Vladimir Poznyak is a member of WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance abuse and he is adamant about making people recognize this gaming disorder as an important issue.
“Health professionals need to recognize that gaming disorder may have serious health consequences,” he said. “Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder either. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects.”
While I believe this last statement, I'll touch more on my thoughts later.
According to the draft, someone who has a gaming disorder is giving gaming precedence over other life interests. While that's a rather vague statement, I'll touch on this later also.
Researchers from the University of Oxford's Internet Institute ran a study to investigate what percentage of gamers are actually addicted to video games. The study found that only 2-3 percent of the 19,000 men and women they surveyed admitted that they experienced five or more of the American Psychiatric Association checklist.
Some of these symptoms include anxiety, withdrawal symptoms, and antisocial behavior. The study mentions:
"The evidence linking Internet gaming disorder to game engagement was strong, but links to physical, social, and mental health outcomes were decidedly mixed."
So, someone who likes to play video games daily is inherently addicted to them? I think not.
The study specifically mentions that the results were contrary than their predictions and the study did not find a clear link between potential addiction and negative effects on health.
Should you be worried? Coming from someone who's let video games run his life for some time, I think I have a decent understanding of what to look for when it comes to needing to be worried.
- If you game because it's fun, stimulating, and you enjoy it rather than going out to social events or watching movies... You're okay.
- If you game because it helps you get away from reality for a while, you're okay.
- If you game and it takes precedence over your duties such as work, school, and being a decent person... you're not okay.
- If all you can do it think about gaming while you're dropping the ball in other areas of your life, you're not okay.
Just like with being healthy, there has to be balance. As you see below, I have over 1200 hours in just the PC version of Rocket League. I've procrastinated on things hard and I do use it as a "getaway" but I also go to work, write articles, and find time to get out.
Find a good balance and run with it. Don't be ashamed because you like to play video games.
My Take on Gaming as a Disease
Obviously, I'm not a scientist, and I play games... a lot. Rocket League is my current goto.
These are just my PC stats... I also play on Xbox.
First, I'd like to say gaming is addictive. I've skipped many school days to play some MMORPGs. It really did take my life over.
I grew up and realized that there are things that you need to accomplish before you can spend time gaming. That's the caveat.
This "disease" is going to give more and more people a reason to purposely put off doing things simply to call it a disease.
What the scientists don't look at is how, in general, society needs to be more stimulated. The times of playing with rocks in the mud are over.
We demand mental stimulation, we need it, and gaming delivers. Who doesn't like watching a TV show that they can control?
So, if you don't want to be one of these people that have a new "mental condition" because you like to play video games, take care of things in life before you glue yourself in front of the TV.