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'Gaming disorder' diagnosed as mental health condition

19 June 2018

The American Psychiatric Association identified "Internet Gaming Disorder" as an area for further study in the 2013 version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the central resource for identifying and diagnosing disorders in the United States.

Jen MacLean, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, said in a blog post in January that the classification poses threats to game developers and it is "so broad as to cover nearly every person who's ever played "just one more turn" of an wonderful game, or who prioritizes games as their first choice of hobby or entertainment". Dr Sameer Malhotra, director- mental health and behavioural sciences at Max Healthcare says increasing screen time is leading to lack of human interaction, low emotional connection between children and adults because each one hooked on to the virtual worlds. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent.

The latest version of the ICD was released on Monday to include the condition - which is characterised by "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour which may be online or offline".

He guessed that the percentage of video game players with a compulsive problem was likely to be extremely small - much less than 1 percent - and that many such people would likely have other underlying problems, like depression, bipolar disorder or autism.

Still, there is a lot we don't yet understand about gaming disorder.

Mental health specialists are trying to provide therapy and medications, using treatments for anxiety or alcoholism as a model.

Wilderness camps and rehab centers are available for gaming addicts, but can be extremely expensive.

He concluded: "We have not crossed all our "ts" and dotted all our "is" with regard to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of gaming addictions". Psychiatrists are emphasising the need for a digital detox as a cure.

Should everyone be concerned about gaming disorder?

The United Nations' WHO has been contemplating the declaration of compulsive video game playing as a mental health condition since past year, and the game industry has been pushing back.

It becomes a problem when people start to avoid daily activities, or when it affects their social lives, physical or psychological health. And we don't mean simply gaming a few hours a day - we're talking about every waking hour of the day; every free moment glued to your mouse, keyboard and monitor as you consume yourself in games like Overwatch and Fortnite.

'Gaming disorder' diagnosed as mental health condition