The World Health Organisation now considers gaming addiction to be a mental illness. For us gamers, it is a little baffling to why they would do this.
Now before we jump of the deep end, this has been on the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) draft since January 2018. The Medical community had been in heated debates on whether Gaming Addiction should justify as its own disease or not.
Many researchers have expressed concerns of the classification on a number of factors. As Aarseth Espen said, “Lack of consensus among researchers and/or medical community, poor quality of evidence from research and that the precedence of this declaration could have a multitude of negative impacts ranging from medical areas to economic or societal areas.”
Overall, there was a number of fundamental issues such as how vague the criteria of the disease should be diagnosed. The definition of the very disease itself is far too premature due to how relatively new the research on the area is as a whole.
The low quality evidence and research had been cited for a number of reasons such as poor scientific transparency or errors in how the research had been conducted. Several results ended being wildly varied, with video gaming addiction rates among a population representative going as low as 0.5% while some other surveys or questionnaires (in areas like Reddit or other platforms) reporting several times more.
On the other hand, many researchers and/or other organisations, be it Government or Media, have expressed concerns about video gaming in general. A few weeks ago, the Today Show had produced a piece on a popular video game Fortnite. The video mentioned on the issues of the video game and how addiction could damage the young children’s developing mind.
Adults had also been affected by gaming addiction to some degree that even caused death. For example, a man had died in China due to a cardiac arrest from lack of physical activity and playing video games for three days straight. Another case had a Taiwanese man dead due to the same issue by playing video games at an excessive period of time.
It is important to remember though, there are concerns about the gaming addiction phenomena. There are worries by the medical community that knee jerk reactions could skew the facts and definitions and put the whole issue at a wonky state. Because of this, the stigma that comes with how video game addiction is defined could affect gamers around the world that leads perfectly healthy lives.
So in the end, what to expect? Well now that it is recognised as a mental disease, it is difficult to imagine how organisations or the public in general will react to this. It may put forth initiatives to monitor gaming as a whole to prevent ‘addiction’ among gaming, but until then, only time will tell.